Held last night in Hackney House, a large tent-like structure in Shoreditch, the annual undergraduate LCF catwalk show presented some of the finest emerging talent to an audience filled with industry professionals, including many well-known faces.
Surfacing from a sea of mirrors, an impressive team of almost 90 street-cast models walked the show and the variety in the choice of models reflected the diversity in the collections. Favoured by renowned fashion journalist Hilary Alexander was BA (hons) Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear student Anjie JiMin An’s collection. A mixture of dark plaid and navy, she described Anjie’s work as “quite Yohji… very commercial but also very avant-garde and the tailoring was exceptional.” The extremely long fake hair extensions that models wore, which came to almost kilt length, certainly had everyone talking.
Despite other stand out womenswear collections from graduates such as BA (hons) Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear students Rose Irwin, Elly Cheng and Ashliegh Downer, who actually grew her own trimmings in an attempt to create sustainable fashion, winning the collaborative award for Fashion Innovation for a United vision, it was menswear that had the audience’s attention. “I really, really loved menswear,” said Hilary. “I thought it was the strongest overall. I particularly liked Katrin Salem’s collection; the burgundy coat was beautiful. Hyung tae Kim’s was also great – it was a very good season.”
According to Salem, (BA (hons) Bespoke Tailoring) his work is “a blend of tailored strength and Latin cholo finesse.” A fresh and contemporary take on British tailoring, his designs are the perfect mix of experimental and traditional, whilst also remaining masculine. Backpacks featured strongly in a great deal of collections, particularly in Kim’s who presented low-slung oversized backpacks combined with large, long coats that looked reminiscent of ‘typical’ father’s clothing but with a younger fresher vibe.
One of the most memorable collections was Siieong Chan’s, whose designs looked at the phrase ‘hug me’ for inspiration and represented this by incorporating large almost monster-like hands into the garments. Hands slung over models shoulders and around their waists were just two of the ways in which these hands were used, which were most certainly eye-catching, especially combined with Chan’s use of bright colours.
Collection of the Year went to Sebastiaan Peter Groenen, BA (Hons) Bespoke Tailoring. Speaking after the show: ”I think there’s definitely a calling for interesting menswear in the industry”, he said. “Womenswear gets a lot of the attention, but men can push boundaries too.” Ashleigh Downer took home the Barnet Lawson award for best use of trimmings. Showing a commitment to sustainable fashion, the BA (Hons) Fashion Design technology: Womenswear student used crystals grown in jam jars from her kitchen on her garments, as well as test tubes filled with coloured pigment and enamel.
As the sea of guests exited Hackney House, they moved on to the exhibition around the corner at Factory 7, which showcased the work of even more graduates. With Champagne flowing and live models in place, the exhibition proved to be just as exciting as the catwalk show.
Some of the students were on hand to talk about their work, Sophie Heron, a BA (hons) Fashion Design and Development student, who has previously interned at Stella McCartney. “The inspiration for my work came from looking at crystals and organic shapes and that’s also where I got the original print from.” Heron’s designs feature simple silhouettes just like those used by Stella McCartney, but she adds her own prints to make them unique.
The importance of events like the annual undergraduate catwalk show should not be underestimated. They are just as important to the graduates involved as they are for the fashion industry itself and it is also here that you will spot some of fashions future stars.