London College of Fashion MA 2012 Exhibition Review

Lots of inspirational work on show at this year's graduate show, including presentations by Antithesis, Daisy Jie Feng, Octavia Xiaozi Yang, Ruth Holland, Charlotte Valkeniers & Tina Elisabeth Reiter.

Written by Caitlin Sinclair

Hana Cha by Sam Parr
Hana Cha by Sam Parr

Two weeks ago, there was a multicolour explosion deep in the basement of Victoria House, Bloomsbury – it was the MA Graduate Season 2012 show at the London College of Fashion – and it was inspiring.

Hana Cha by Jason Lear
Hana Cha by Jason Lear

The first collection that catches my eye is Carry on Closet, a collaborative project between Renée Lacroix (MA Fashion and the Environment) and Zahra Ash-Harper (MA Entrepreneurship), collectively Antithesis (who Amelia mentored on the CFE Fashion Bootcamp). They’ve created an enviable capsule collection of trans-seasonal, versatile pieces, and it’s the team’s hope that their high quality clothing will result in long-lasting, treasured pieces. I covet the second cloak in their video below, which doubles as a short jacket and vest – it’s one of many thoughtfully-crafted pieces which would slot in well to any contemporary wardrobe.


Next, I meet Daisy Jie Feng (MA Fashion Artefact), who is sporting a delicate silver neckpiece which resembles a set of wings. As we get talking, I understand that this is completely intentional – she was inspired by Kafka’s Metamorphosis to produce a series of necklaces that combine fine jewellery with a story of evolution. Each of her mannequins on display show the pieces becoming progressively more intricate, until we reach the final neckpiece which is made from 265 silver cones wrapped in silver and white gold.

Tina Elisabeth Reiter by Gareth A Hopkins
Tina Elisabeth Reiter by Gareth A Hopkins

Octavia Xiaozi Yang (MA Fashion Artefact) has applied traditional Chinese elements to contemporary jewellery for her Joinery in Jewels project, for me characterised by the enormous resin rubies which can be spied from a distance. No glue or nails are used to create the neck pieces, instead all the materials are constructed to work together, with laser cut perspex, 18 carat gold, and wood.

Tina Elisabeth Reiter by Claire Kearns
Tina Elisabeth Reiter by Claire Kearns

Rounding a corner, everyone stops to gaze at Vivien Ying’s (MA Fashion Footwear) vibrant shoes, which would be perfect come spring. She asks, ‘Is it possible to adapt the aesthetics and principles of Kimono wrapping into the scale and techniques of footwear?’ And indeed it is, as she’s draped the shoes without adding weight to them, and maintained the essence of the Kimono concept by using leathers delicately imprinted with floral patterns.

Vivien Ying by Sam Parr
Vivien Ying by Sam Parr

Ruth Holland’s (MA Fashion Artefact) neck pieces are spectacular. She focuses on reusing materials and wants to make precious pieces from non-precious materials – traditional handmade rope, mixed plastics and resins. This kind of approach makes for pieces obviously steeped in careful craftsmanship, and leaves me wondering why we would ever want to wear anything else – it’s the kind of artwork that is easy to connect with ethically and visually – you just want to reach out and put it on.

Necklace by Ruth Holland
Necklace by Ruth Holland

Tina Elisabeth Reiter by Jason Lear
Tina Elisabeth Reiter by Jason Lear

Charlotte Valkeniers (MA Fashion Artefact) tells me that she isn’t a jewellery person, which is a little bit funny given her enormous neck pieces! Everything is laser cut in to spirals with hand-knitted tubes and hand-forged metal, and her curiosity about the human body and muscle structure is apparent in the shape and weave of the pieces. I like the neutral tones and textures, and come to think of it, their simplicity might be perfect for the person who shies away from decoration.

Neckpiece by Charlotte Valkeniers
Neck piece by Charlotte Valkeniers

Photographs by Rebecca Merrick
Photographs by Rebecca Merrick

After perusing the photography portion of the show (including some beautiful, threaded images from Rebecca Merrick), I witness performances from the students doing their MA in Costume Design for Performance. The audience is captivated, first by Lisa Duncan’s costume for a performance of Orlando, and later, by a very personal work from Lesley Asare, iShape Beauty, which ends in cheers.

Costume design by Lisa Duncan
Costume design by Lisa Duncan

Oenghus in Love by Lucy Mitchell
Óenghus in Love by Lucy Mitchell

Two nights after I visit, the annual MA Catwalk Show takes place at the V&A: Tina Elisabeth Reiter (MA Fashion Design Technology, Menswear) is announced winner of the Menswear Collection of the Year, and Hana Cha (MA Fashion Design Technology, Womenswear) winner of the Womenswear Collection of the Year. Congratulations to both on creating such rich, innovative collections.

Watch the MA_12 Catwalk Show here

Object by Ana Rajcevic
Object by Ana Rajcevic

If you’re interested in seeing more from this exciting institution, read our London College of Fashion Fashion Illustration and Photography and Styling reviews from 2011.

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