It’s that time of year again, when London’s fashion industry celebrate the best of the years graduating fashion students. Graduate Fashion Week 2014 has outdone itself in showing young creativity, this year in its new home of Brick Lane’s famous Truman Brewery. I headed down there to check out the finest, freshest and fiercest of the class of 2014.
Within two minutes of entering, I’d already been papped by the event’s street style photography team – always a very encouraging sign. Split over two floors, this year GFW really makes a departure from previous years in clunky Earls Court. I mean, West London? Really? Finally reflecting London fashion’s new eastward outlook, the Truman Brewery’s industrial feel really suits the vibrancy of student fashion, and the layout has less of a basic bitch trade show feel, and has rabbit warren boutique store vibes. Less like the Clothes Show Live and more like Dover Street Market.
The collections on the catwalk were fun and innovative as ever. This year my favourites included Manchester School of Art who showed us Chihuahua motifs, Arts University Bournemouth whose menswear was killing it (and ended the show with Covergirl by RuPaul) and the University of East London presented fun and surprisingly professional colourful wonder. However, for me this year the most interesting time to be had was outside the catwalk space in the exhibition halls.
With the cost to students and universities of exhibiting always rising, for some graduates the exposure just isn’t worth the immense cost any longer. In a time where the internet means that everything is accessible to everyone everywhere, the relevance of paying hundreds of pounds in fees to GFW for four minutes of catwalk time doesn’t have the same lustrous appeal as it once was. As such, the stands in the exhibition hall were the best they’ve ever been.
On the ground floor, UCA devoted a vast space to its multiple fashion courses in a steely but airy industrial layout. Upstairs, Istituto Marangoni proved the money can buy you taste with their sleek copper clad display, Nottingham Trent mindfucked everyone with a shiny floor and hundreds of silver helium balloons, and Ravensbourne did what they did best with sleek and edited white panache, uplit with minimalist neons.
In terms of fashion, I was really impressed by Winchester School of Art’s Stephanie Simmons and her Christopher Shannon esque sportswear, plus every shoe designer at Northampton blew me away. However, I had one firm favourite: De Montfort’s Niall Murphy and his amazing metallic PVC jackets with wild fur hoods and disco zips. Niall, if you’re reading this, I will seriously max a credit card to buy the silver coat. CALL ME.
In all, it’s been a very good year for Britain’s graduate designers, and once again we’ve proved to the world why London is top dog when it comes to fashion education and emerging talent. Well done class of 2014!