Article: Nicola Rachel Colyer
Students of the University of Westminster’s BA in Fashion Design made a spectacular debut on the London Fashion Week schedule as the first ever undergraduate course to be invited to show at a major fashion week.
Showcasing the work of final year students from an institution that has nurtured some of the leading names in the industry, including Ashley Williams, Liam Hodges, Vivienne Westwood and Christopher Bailey, the BA show has been a longstanding favourite on June’s Graduate Fashion Week schedule. However, in a bid to reform fashion education to better prepare students for a future in the field, course director Andrew Groves restructured the programme to allow his students to align their collections with the international fashion calendar.
“I have long believed that fashion education needs to provide our students with the most realistic and industry-ready educational experience,” Groves explained. “By showing their collections in February rather than June, it enables our accomplished final year students to become truly part of the industry.”
The collections presented the very best of emerging talent, with an exciting array of designs inspired by both real-life and hypothetical society and culture. Suzi Lee’s soft silhouettes in a vibrant palette of orange, teal, rust, and navy took inspiration from the last remaining Haenyeo Divers of Jeju Island on the South Korean peninsula, while Lauren Audrey’s high glamour designs celebrated the current climate in the West with a display of female empowerment in a riotous mélange of clashing tones and rich textures.
Meanwhile, non-binary designer William Dill-Russell explored the rise of gender fluidity in fashion with a dark and voluminous collection reminiscent of a child’s game of dress-up, and Savannah Avery imagined a desiccated desert land punctuated with brightly coloured, fringed designs in a number of hand-crafted fabrics in homage to the traditional craftsmanship of the Tuareg People, a nomadic tribe of the Sahara.
Elsewhere, students explored subjects ranging from corruption and the abuse of power to the changing stages of grief, while others found inspiration in everything from space pioneers to social change in the North of England. Raising the stakes for design institutions around the world, we look forward to what is sure to be a London Fashion Week highlight for years to come.