With LCFBA18 just around the corner, we explore the BA (Hons) Cordwainers Footwear and BA (Hons) Fashion Jewellery handcraft masters that you need to keep an eye out for this season. In this handcraft master series, we talk to Lauren Cutforth, Tara Hughes, Yunfei Ma, Wai Yan Choi and Kitty Shukman. Sources of inspiration for this year’s graduating cohort include saving bees and their wellbeing, Japanese philosophy, the practice of Kintsugi and sustainability. We meet the five craft masters that are setting this BA18 season alight, catch their work at Oval Space on 6 June.

LCFBA18 is taking place at Oval Space, east London, between 5-6 June.

LCFBA18 is taking place at Oval Space, east London, this 6 June.

First up on our handcraft masters feature is BA (Hons) Cordwainers Footwear graduate Lauren Cutforth. We asked Lauren to tell us about her final project, she said:

Always known as the girl with the most vivid imagination, I decided to make up a story about a Bond Girl who saves lives on public transport but also has to be at the disco before 8pm to boogie her head off. I am completely obsessed with women who have a dangerous side to them, the ones that do the saving. In particular, I found the tragic story of Mata Hari the most inspirational. A professional dancer, she accepted an assignment to spy for France but was suspected of being a double agent and was supposedly wrongly executed, I think her image as a dancer and her style is what initially drew me to disco and this is where the story started for me. I then entwined bits of myself into the story with my fear of public transport, I often have to locate the emergency stops to calm down my anxiety and make sure if anything happens I can get out easily, and yes that heel is a pink emergency hammer.

I decided to push the boundaries out as far as we could to bring back big X-treme platforms, people question it and say ‘but you can’t walk in them?’ – why should us Queens have to walk anywhere? We deserve to sit there and look fabulous and have people carry us wherever we need to go. I collaborated with two independent designers who provided me with embellishments and garments to make the campaign a reality. ‘No Basic Bombshell’ created these spectacular lasers cut glittery pieces which added total sublimeness to the collection, they specialise in earrings so it was really fun to see how we could use those pieces in different ways than what they were originally designed for. These embellishments were then attached to a 3D printed X-treme platform. ‘Bottle Blonde Studio’ which is the other Instagram brand we worked with, provided us with the most majestic tinsel jackets that really grounded the collection and complimented the shoes.

Everything we do as a brand is to focus on saving the life of bees, campaigning against pesticides, and promoting their general wellbeing, these are our main ethos.  We do this by using alternative materials where possible such as abolishing the used cotton as this one of the dirtiest crops on the planet. All our design decisions focus on being the brightest, most dazzling and eye-catching of them all, we do this through colour choice and material, we treat this aspect as though it was a bee sourcing food and finding the right flower to sip from. We will also be donating 10% of the profit to bee organisations to raise awareness and fund more research to make us more eco-friendly and better for the environment.

We asked Lauren to tell us an interesting fact about herself, she replied with, “I was featured on BBC2 – Inside the Factory with Cherry Healey where they featured LCF’s footwear design course and we got to design her a pair of shoes” (Read the full story here). Her time at LCF was “an absolute rollercoaster” which started nice and mellow before feeling the wind in her hair, “next my stomach is turning up in the sky, you’re doing screwballs and you aren’t quite sure if you are going to make it off safe”. She did make it off safely and is one of the footwear stars of this BA season.

BA (Hons) Cordwainers Footwear graduate Tara Hughes is next up on our LCFBA18 handcraft masters series. She told us her collection is all cutting-edge designs with the concept based on the support and guidance of the family unit and with a heel that has been designed to celebrate the ‘Year of the Women’ (read about LCF’s involvement in the nationwide project). Tara also designed another one of the heels to show the strength and support given to women from their families. She has called the project, ‘Who am I?’ Tara’s interesting fact about herself is that she has two missing knuckles and is still able to design and draw. We asked her to explain her time at LCF in 140 characters, she told us, “My time at LCF has helped me grow and mature as a designer that is now industry ready. Cordwainers at LCF feels like home to me. As a Cordwainer, it is a place where we can share interests and feed our creativity. My time at LCF has been a happy one and I feel privileged to say I have attended such a high ranked university with such fantastic alumni”.

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Next up is Yunfei Ma who used the Japanese practice of Kintsugi as her main source of inspiration for LCFBA18. The Japanese art of Kintsugi teaches that broken objects are not something to hide but to display with pride. By repairing broken ceramics it’s possible to give a new lease of life to pottery that becomes even more refined thanks to its “scars”. Inspired by this Japanese philosophy and personal experiences, Yunfei has chosen to focus on broken, beautiful and fragile objects for her final project. She told us, “There is a dramatic and unforgettable story behind my work, which has been marked deeply in my memory and body. When I was 14-years-old, I had a throat surgery that left an obvious stitching scar on my neck. I was so upset and trying to cover it with cosmetics. It became worse as I tried to cover it with makeup. Everyone has a scar, everyone has his or her unforgettable painful story or history, the best solution is to learn how to face it and strongly come over it rather than covering it up or trying to escape from it”. She wanted to express this dramatic pain in a beautiful and contemporary way, hoping to give the wearer strength and optimism about the future. She also collaborated with an architect named LEON to construct the heel model. We asked her to reflect on her time at LCF in 140, she told us, “This comprehensive shoemaking course offered me a unique opportunity to learn and develop all aspects of footwear pattern-cutting and making, under the guidance of specialist footwear tutors. I have access to the full range of industrial machines used in the making process such as the skiving machine, as well as the different types of sewing machines used for stitching leather”.

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BA (Hons) Fashion Jewellery graduate Wai Yan Choi is next on our handcraft masters feature. Wai’s final project focuses on distortion, standards, normality and optical illusions, she also worked with BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology Womenswear graduate Haoxin Cheng ahead of our live stream show at Oval Space. We asked Wai to describe her time at LCF in 140 characters, she said, “My time at LCF has been an enrichment of the knowledge in the fashion industry, which allowed me to intensively get in touch with the industry in different aspects. It provided me with a chance to fulfil my dream with lots of guidance and support from the teaching team”.

Closing our handcraft masters series is BA (Hons) Cordwainers Footwear graduate Kitty Shukman. “The concept (for my final project) is about my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), it causes me much anxiety and also affects one in ten people. I wanted to create shoes that people felt strong, empowered and confident in, especially relevant in a time of increased anxiety. The materials I have used are strong and sporty, thick meshes, army cord and heavy-duty webbing”, explains Kitty. Her shoes are unisex, she didn’t want them to be directed at one gender, this is something that is very important as “gender should be fluid and consumers want shoes that reflect that need”.  The whole collection is sustainable and completely leather-free. Kitty was sponsored by Ultrasuede materials from Japan, which is made from recycled plastic and plants. The sole was 3D printed and each sole took 30 hours to print, they are made from a flexible resin material which allows it to bend. Not only are they strong, they are also comfortable, says Kitty. We asked her to tell us an interesting fact about herself, she said she once walked the Camino de Santiago, a network of pilgrims’ ways serving pilgrimage to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain. She walked the 800km trail in 27 days. Kitty told us her time at LCF was “life-changing, I learnt not only who I was as a person but also my aesthetic and a strong self-confidence in my design and beliefs.

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BA (Hons) Cordwainers Footwear student Kitty Shukman for LCFBA18.

BA (Hons) Cordwainers Footwear graduate Kitty Shukman for LCFBA18.

BA (Hons) Cordwainers Footwear student Kitty Shukman for LCFBA18.

BA (Hons) Cordwainers Footwear graduate Kitty Shukman for LCFBA18.

BA (Hons) Cordwainers Footwear student Kitty Shukman for LCFBA18.

BA (Hons) Cordwainers Footwear graduate Kitty Shukman for LCFBA18.

BA (Hons) Cordwainers Footwear student Kitty Shukman for LCFBA18.

BA (Hons) Cordwainers Footwear graduate Kitty Shukman for LCFBA18.

Alumni can connect with LCF in the following ways: