Last Wednesday night, finale of Graduate Fashion Week 2010, proved there’s no danger of a talent shortage hitting the British fashion industry any time soon. At a star-studded gala show at Earl’s Court, Italian designer Alberta Ferretti presented the £20,000 River Island Gold Award for best collection to Rebecca Thomson of Manchester University School of Art. She was inspired by her Eastern European ancestry, pre-war Jewish culture an children’s illustrations; taking the simple white shirt, she added old world details of high-rise lacy collars, cascading pleated skirts and elsewhere, cartoon-esque proportions, exagerated shapes and super-sized bow ties. The collection is definitely more exciting, if only by degrees, than the safe and marketable draped collection Myrto Stamou won with last year.
Thomas Crisp of Ravensbourne College won best menswear collection; inspird by 18th century French rebels The Guilded Youth and that touchstone o our time, graffiti. There were leather jackets, kilts and pleated silken jackets to set a powerful but luxurious, masculine tone. Womenswear winner Rhea Fields from Northbrook College, Sussex, found a balance between feminine fabrics such as chiffon, colours of peach and nudes, set against masculine tailoring.
Northumbria’s own Ledina Zhang picked up BHM Visionary Knitear Award with her mad mash-up of ruffles, dropped hemlines and hoods. Best of all was the work of the Zandra Rhodes Textile Award winner, Anna Lee from De Montfort University, inspired by illustrations of Chinese dragons, the full colour collection was a feast for the eyes in reds, oranges and black shades, and the silken material fell in gorgeous draped shapes around fine silhouettes. No attention was spared to detail, with the shoes perfectly matching the fabrics in style and colour, and Anna also created some fantastic bejewelled accessores, big statement bib necklaces and the like, to go with the clothes. Of course, there were shows from dozens of fashion courses running all year, with 35 universities represented in total. Presented by Caryn Fanklin and attended by Mark Eley of Eley Kishimoto, Dylan Jones, Lorraine Candy, Hilary Alexander and the like, the gala show rounds off the week in style, and this year featured a performance by Diversity. Gutted we missed the even this year, as positive energy simply throbs in the air at GFW with so many talented and imaginitive yong designers gathered together.