Student style: Graduate Fashion Week

Truman’s Brewery on Brick Lane hosted Graduate Fashion Week at the end of last month, showcasing 2014’s crop of fashion graduates, and over 40 universities and art schools. The event celebrated cultural and geographical diversity and the incredible craftsmanship and innovative design emerging from across the UK.

On a warm opening Saturday, Graduate Fashion Week was humming with students, tutors, parents and fashion industry members, and with a general air of chaotic excitement, which seems fitting for an event that showcases young people at the start of their career in a famously challenging industry.

The labyrinth-like Truman’s Brewery was divided into compact exhibition spaces for each of the universities, who significantly chose different approaches to exhibiting work. Major player on the fashion course world-stage is Kingston University, who went for tasteful wooden and industrial fittings and showcased leather book-bound sketchbooks of their students’ work – not a garment in sight. London College of Fashion had tutors sketching and illustrating on easels, the walls of the space becoming a live and evolving exhibition of fashion illustrations on loose sheets of paper. Edinburgh College of Art had created a shop-cum-showroom, bursting with garments made by students. The theme here was knitwear, representing perhaps Scotland’s age-old association with yarn production and knits.

A handful of universities were given the opportunity to exhibit their work in catwalk-form, including Manchester School of Art, Birmingham University and Kingston, among others. 

The University of East London took to the catwalk on the opening day, bringing the collections of no less than twenty new BA graduates to the runway. Highlights included Kamara Appleton’s menswear collection of geometric boarders in metallic hues, on tunics and coats. Not surprisingly for a university located in the urban heart of East London, sportswear reigned strong. Leanne Beckford presented an androgynous series of navy and slate boiler suits and oversize sports coats, accessorised with giant bobble hats, while Veronica Peduzzi-Davies presented an accomplished collection of cyber sportswear featuring towelling, teddy-bear motifs and puffer jackets, paying tribute to London Fashion Week favourites Christopher Raeburn and Nasir Mazhar. Hollie Tarrier used carpet-bag floral and jacquard techniques on putty and white base colours, bringing a contemporary feel to old fabric patterns, with Tianyi Li’s collection of black lace, costume-like cape dresses and headpieces and veils bringing the show to a memorable close.

Graduate Fashion Week acknowledged fashion graduates from across the UK and the cultural diversity that informs their craft, providing them with a place to show off their talents in the heart of London’s creative East End.

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