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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Graduate Fashion Week 2011 Gala Awards Show: The Winners

The Gala Awards for Graduate Fashion Week were a hotbed of young graduate talent... and numerous TOWIE cast members. Top awards went to Rory Longdon, Marissa Owen and the wonderfully named Felix Wolodymyr Chabluk Smith.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Graduate Fashion Week Gala show 2011-Rory Longdon
Rory Longdon was a worthy winner of the Graduate Fashion Week 2011 George Gold Award. Okay, it’s a gold award, I geddit already.

Just over two weeks ago I was invited to attend the Gala show for the Graduate Fashion Awards. I’ve not been back to the student fashion shows since I graduated 15 years ago (gulp). Back then they were held in the Islington Business Centre and I don’t remember much about them at all – I had already decided that my future did not lie in catwalk shows and so I only had a static stand to show off my printed textiles designs… which I had honed in the knowledge that I would prefer to pursue a career in illustration. Isn’t it funny how the circle turns? I never have been able to get away from fashion… but then again nor have I abandoned illustration. I could never have predicted then just how my life would have panned out in the years since.

Joey and Sam Faiers TOWIE by Munroe Bergdorf
Joey Essex and Sam Faiers from TOWIE. Photo by Munroe Bergdorf.

It’s been a shaky year for the Graduate Fashion Show brand – the sponsorship that was needed for it to continue was finally taken on by George at Asda at the last minute. Select guests were treated like royalty – the cast of TOWIE may not be considered the height of style in most forward thinking fashion circles but they were feted like true celebrities at the Gala show. Myself and Naomi? We couldn’t get past the cordons in the middle of the Earl’s Court conference centre for a drink and a natter with friends beforehand (I tried unhooking the cordon, the security was not very amused). Inside the TOWIE crew primped and preened, basking in the attention. Sound familiar? Exactly the same fiasco for Matt Bramford last year. So instead we tried our luck at the brightly coloured George stand, to no avail, though their PR was happy to give me their spiel, drink in hand. More than one woman was wearing the same dress… but then that’s the dangers of mass fashion for you.

Graduate Fashion Week Gala show 2011-George

Inside the Gala show area notable bodies from the fashion world were relegated to the fifth row, whilst TOWIE agents hogged front row seats. (There was one next to me, I did my research later.) Luckily I was able to snag one at the last minute or there would be no photos here for you. All of this preamble pretty much sums up the atmosphere of the Gala show, which was all about the glitz and the razzmatazz. The mannered presenting from Clothes Show stalwarts Jeff Banks (complete with inappropriate comments) and his cohort Caryn Franklin (for whom I have a very large soft spot) was at times incredibly painful.

Graduate Fashion Week Gala show 2011-Lauren Brown & Sophia Sabados, UCA Epsom
Graduate Fashion Week 2011 review-Lauren Brown & Sophia SabadosGraduate Fashion Week 2011 review-Lauren Brown & Sophia Sabados
I was excited to see Lauren Brown & Sophia Sabados – students from UCA Epsom (where I have lectured) – win the Media and Design Award (presented by Grace Woodward) for their magazine.

A myriad of famous guests (Sophie Ellis-Bexter – new album to promote, the Sugababe Heidi Range, Carole White, she of Premier modelling agency fame) were led onstage to present awards as this year’s crop of excitable graduates whooped and a-hollered. It was nice to hear everyone in such a celebratory mood… but when one of the presenters declared that she hoped all graduates would go into paid jobs straight away I couldn’t help but have a little bit of a snigger.

Graduate Fashion Week Gala show Christina Economou 2011
International Award winner Christina Economou of the Istituto Marangoni, Paris.

Graduate Fashion Week Gala show Dominique Kral 2011Graduate Fashion Week Gala show Dominique Kral 2011
Zandra Rhodes Catwalk Textiles Award winner Dominique Kral of Northbrook College Sussex.

Graduate Fashion Week Gala show Wong Jee Chung 2011Graduate Fashion Week Gala show Wong Jee Chung 2011
Stuart Peters Visionary Knitwear Award winner Won Jee Chung of Nottingham Trent University.

Oh my days… here I am all these years down the line and I’ve yet to figure out how I can make a proper living out of my fashion textiles degree. It’s a lovely sentiment, but it’s just not the reality of the fashion industry. This is a place where only the most dedicated survive… or those with rich/famous parents. Unless you pursue a career in the mass fashion industry. A degree in fashion is now about so much more than just design, and the UK is still the world industry leader for well trained young fashion creatives in all kinds of fashion related disciplines. There was an element of realism in the recommendation to look to industry for jobs, presumably an effort to quash too many unrealistic ‘next McQueen’ expectations. Since I graduated the choice of degrees which train people to work in the fashion industry has multiplied massively. It’s now possible to pursue a plethora of different avenues such as styling and promotion which really weren’t available when I went to university back in the early 90s. All of this corresponds with a massive growth in our insatiable desire to consume mass fashion… do you see a connection? My, how I struggle with this industry at times.

Graduate Fashion Week Gala show Felix Wolodymyr ChablukSmith 2011Graduate Fashion Week Gala show Felix Wolodymyr ChablukSmith 2011
Menswear Award winner Felix Wolodymyr Chabluk Smith of Edinburgh School of Art.

Graduate Fashion Week Gala show Marrisa Owen 2011Graduate Fashion Week Gala show Marrisa Owen 2011
Womenswear Award winner Marrisa Owen of University of Central Lancashire.

Graduate Fashion Week Gala show Rory Longdon 2011Graduate Fashion Week Gala show Rory Longdon 2011
George Gold Award winner Rory Longdon of Nottingham Trent University.

The Gala show awards closed in a huge tumble of gold foil more suited to a crucial key change at a boy band concert. Oh how times have changed. I wish this year’s graduates all the best. More on the winners and other show finalists coming up shortly.

Graduate Fashion Week Gala show 2011-Rory Longdon finale

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