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Graduate Fashion Week 2010: The Gala Show Finale!

After 20 shows, 40 exhibition stands and some incredible British fashion talent, it was time to find out who scooped the top prizes at Graduate Fashion Week, on Wednesday 9 June…

Written by Matt Bramford

Nicola Roberts, illustrated by Jenny Robins

So it was time to wrap up what was a pretty crazy week in the form of the Graduate Fashion Week Gala Show. After making arrangements for a ticket a while ago, I was bemused to find that at the door there was no sign of said tickets.

Perhaps it had been taken by another contributor? Unlikely. ‘Are you sure you’re supposed to be at this (star-studded) show?’ ‘Yes’ I said, ‘that’s why I’m wearing a bow tie’.

After a few quick radio calls, I was allowed in. Into Earl’s Court, that is – not into the champagne drinks reception. ‘Sponsors only’ was the reply when I asked if I could have a quick drinkie. ‘Sponsors only my eye’ I thought, as I recognised half the people in the fashionably-roped off bar area.

So I waited patiently at the entrance to the theatre. And waited.

And waited.

‘We’ll get you in,’ I was told. ‘Before it actually starts?’ I thought to myself.

As I waited I was entertained by a lovely student called April who could see my blood boiling – stood a little distance away to avoid the steam coming out of my ears. ‘After all I’ve bloody done this week,’ I thought to myself, and then said aloud to April, who quickly excused herself.

Finally I was allowed inside and ushered into a press seat, and, true to form at these events, there were three seats either side of me that remained empty. ‘Typical!’ I thought to myself, and then thought I really should stop thinking to myself so much.

With a few whoops and a whizz, the Gala Show kicked off in fabulous fashion, with Britain’s Got Talent champions Diversity. Fun. Next, Caryn Franklin, resplendent as ever, arrived on stage. It was a whistle-stop tour through the non-catwalk-based awards, including those for fashion marketing and promotion. I was pleased to see Northumbria added a few more to their metaphorical mantelpiece.

A host of celebs had turned up, and from my seat I could spot front-row regular Erin O’Connor (who later presented an award), Nicola Roberts of Girls Aloud fame (who has quickly swapped pop for paps, Fashion Week regular that she is). I even brushed past her on my way to the loo, and she is genuinely gorgeous in real life.

Another Nicola Roberts, illustrated by Antonia Parker

It’s always great to see the wonderful Hilary Alexander (who I had the pleasure of sitting next to at the Northumbria Show) who presented mature student Ellen Devall with the ‘First Word’ Journalism Award, because it left her ‘wanting to know more.’

Hilary Alexander, illustrated by Amy Martino

Another of my favourite spots was Barbara Hulanicki, who was here to present the Textile Award to Natalie Murray from Northumbria University. She’s utterly bonkers but gosh what a woman.

Barbara Hulanicki, illustrated by Abi Daker

Onto the main event – the Gala Show(case). I was thrilled to see many of the graduates we’d already talked about on the website appearing in this Best of the Best-style show, including Naomi New from Northumbria (one of my personal favourites from GFW as a whole) and Northbrook’s Rhea Fields.

The staging for this was incredible, and justified the ghastly white sheet that hung in the background for the first part of the show. It burst down to reveal a scaffolding set, where models pouted, lights flashed, and the music roared.

So, the winners then. With the inclusion of the International Show this year, it was great to see them honoured with an award, which must have been a great end to a fantastic week for International Students. The winner, Roya Hesam from the Amsterdam Fashion Institute won over the judges with her minimalist collection.

Pretty soon afterwards, out popped everybody’s favourite glamorous granny, Zandra Rhodes, to present her Textiles Award.

Zandra Rhodes, illustrated by Paul Shinn

The competition was fierce here – all were fantastic – but it was Anna Lee’s literally fierce collection of big cat prints that triumphed.

Dylan Jones, editor of GQ Magazine, presented Thomas Crisp of Ravensbourne with the marvellous Menswear prize, owing to his sleek, sophisticated tailoring.

Dylan Jones, illustrated by June Chanpoomidole

Rhea Fields (yay!) from Northbrook college won the womenswear award for her covetable collection and unique use of materials, presented by Mark Eley of Eley Kishimoto.

Mark Eley, illustrated by Lisa Billvik

So, the moment we’d all waited for (and in my case queued, sweated and been reduced to tears for) was the River Island Gold Award. God knows how the likes of River Island design director Naomi Dominique, Lorraine Candy of Elle and Kim Jones chose the winner, but it was down to fellow judge Alberta Ferretti to present the award.

Alberta Ferretti, illustrated by Paolo Caravello

And the winner was…

…Rebecca Thompson from Manchester Met! Thoroughly deserved for her inspirational collection. Alberta Ferretti proclaimed that Rebecca had triumphed because of her ‘unusual and interesting combination of fabrics and for the contemporary feeling of her collection’.

As the ticker tape covered Rebecca and her models, I thought to myself,’What a freakin’ fabulous week.’


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3 Responses to “Graduate Fashion Week 2010: The Gala Show Finale!”

  1. Lesley Barnes says:

    matt – just wanted to say how much I have enjoyed all your gfw posts!

  2. Dan Heffer says:

    great post! very enjoyable read :D

  3. grthink says:

    Great post, Matt — and great illustrations too, especially Jenny Robin’s Nicola Roberts.

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