Marie Anne Lynch, illustrated by Antonia Parker
This week the London College of Fashion exhibits work from eight of its 2011 MA fashion courses, from photography to footwear. Housed in Victoria House on Bloomsbury Square, where the ON|OFF catwalk shows take place during London Fashion Week, it’s open to the public until 9th February. I went to the opening to see if I could spy some fashion stars in the making.
If you visit, be careful not to walk straight past the main event on the way to the basement – the clothing from the Fashion Design Technology MA is in the foyer on the ground floor. The well-deserved winner of Collection of the Year was Matteo Molinari (his name already sounds like a successful Italian brand), whose all-black menswear collection played with the proportions of sharp suits – a longer sleeve here, a higher waist there – and added crochet and cable-knit elements.
Charlie Goldthorpe, illustrated by Sarah Matthews
Another shortlisted designer, Jo Power showed dresses so long, black and formless I wondered if she’d been commissioned by the Church of England to create ecclesiastical wear. But in reality, Power could be well-placed to ride out a current fad: her brand of monochrome minimalism (save for the odd splash of scarlet red) is, along with Phoebe Philo, Jil Sander et al, the kind on which the fashion world is heaping masses of praise at the moment.
At the other end of the spectrum, Tatwasin Kahjeenikorn’s dresses were so densely encrusted with heavy hematite beads and trinkets they were difficult to lift off the rail. One black sleeveless sack dress was covered in rows of metal components you’d be more likely to find in a hardware shop than a haberdashery.
Paul Beckett, illustrated by Michelle Urvall Nyrén
Paul Beckett experimented with sportswear for men to great effect as tracksuit tops were rendered in leather and silk in muted brown tones. Who’d have thought the midpoint between chav and luxe could be so chic? His collection looks like an ideal portfolio for an interview at Adidas. Equally employable, I wouldn’t be surprised if Miuccia Prada offered Jennifer Morris a job in future – I can easily imagine Morris’s turquoise and blue silk pajama-esque trousers and matching jacket on the Miu Miu catwalk.
Zoe Grace Fletcher, illustrated by Gemma Smith
Over in the Fashion and the Environment MA room, students presented a variety of approaches to solving the problems of the unsustainable and wasteful nature of clothing production. If there was a prize for the best collection title, I would give it to Zoe Grace Fletcher. ‘Britain needs Ewe’ explored the local sourcing route to sustainability, and saw Fletcher learning how to shear sheep and dig for Madder roots to extract dye for her hand-knitted wool dresses. Focusing on clothes that can lead to a more sustainable lifestyle when living in a hot climate, Lu Yinyin took a hundred-year-old Chinese dying technique using yams and mud to create a silk that helps to keep the wearer cool. Lu found that air conditioning, a huge source of energy consumption, could actually be turned down a degree or two when Sun Silk garments were worn.
Paul Kim, illustrated by Karolina Burdon
From the title alone I wasn’t even sure what the Fashion Artefact MA course entailed, but it may as well have been called Fashion Accessories because hats, bags and shoes were the artefacts of choice for most designers. In fact, Charlotte Goldthorpe told me she started on the footwear course before the tutor decided she was ‘too weird’ (her words) and she made the switch. A wise decision, if you ask me, as her standout collection took found objects that had lost their functionality (a broken key, a locket that wouldn’t open) and cast them in spheres of silicon. Paired with traditional shapes like a doctor’s bag and an old-fashioned suitcase in flesh-coloured leather, the collection had a wonderful almost medical feel to it. Also in the weird and wonderful artefact category, Oliver Ruuger took the anonymous bowler-hatted businessman archetype and turned it on its head; his umbrella with a ponytail and briefcase covered in soft spikes and metallic studs are the antithesis of conservative dressing.
Ivan Dauriz, illustrated by Alison Day
All in all, the LCF collections may not be as avant-garde and ground-breaking as that other great London fashion institution Central Saint Martins, but there’s clearly a lot of talent on show at this exhibition. It’ll be interesting to see which of these graduates return to show at Victoria House in the future in its London Fashion Week capacity.
Adidas, Charlotte Goldthorpe, Fashion and the Environment, Fashion Artefact, Fashion Design Technology, Jennifer Morris, Jo Power, London College of Fashion, London Fashion Week, Lu Yinyin, ma, Matteo Molinari, Miu Miu, Oliver Ruuger, onoff, Paul Beckett, Prada, Sun Silk, Tatwasin Kahjeenikorn, Victoria House, Zoe Grace Fletcher
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