This year’s RCA Graduate Fashion Show featured 33 collections by students specialising in womenswear, menswear, knitwear and millinery.
Of course, there are always some collections that resonate more than others either because they visually encapsulate the current direction or merely because of their sheer brilliance of ingenuity – it’s the latter that we most hope for as these beacons continue to shine whatever the direction of fashion’s oft fickle path. This season’s show seemed to concentrate largely on the former: relaying the commercial largesse of fashion’s current minimalist and textural-clash tendencies rather than flights of fantasy and creative vision that lift the viewer beyond the norm. Saying that, these were mostly brilliantly executed. What else does one expect from RCA students who will be the leading lights of the future? We may not be familiar with their names but that will all change in a couple of years.
Joseph McGee’s cacophony of colour (above) delved into couture street-wear featuring prints on felted wool and patent in yellows, pinks and mandarin orange. Balloon gathered sleeves had a hint of vintage Balenciaga (ie. when it was good) but seemed to marry fun and youthfulness with colour and wit.
Yuhao Luo (above) was inspired by architectural forms and his structural womenswear collection showed skill and vision. Marrying long linear looks in monochrome with jutting metallic modernist belts & detailing, Luo’s collections wouldn’t have looked out of place in a current Paris ready-to-wear line-up where the trend for ultra-minimalism prevails amongst the Chloes, Wangs and Celines.
Danielle Ingemann managed how to convey how to use knitwear in an upbeat manner using colour and texture like a playful Modern Miss that was ladylike London street mixed with a little Parisienne Miss Carven. While Ingemann played with prim daywear, Harriet De Roeper (below) concentrated on women of the night(club) with clever use of silk-screen printing. Flashes of azure blue and bronze peeked through lace and shone ‘bright like a diamon’ as, no doubt, Rihanna would say. This was an assured and mature collection that had all the facets of a very able designer.
Ana Corina Del Pinal Saenz was another visionary futurist as her Japanese-obi-style-meets-Star Wars collection proved. Interesting colours such as teale and pale green were used in folds and loose kimono caught gowns, with flashes of patent on edges. Eleanor Irving’s array of gilt clad streetwear (below) worked for me. This was a collection I’d own with its narrow pants and showy-take on glitzy separates. It was all about gilding the lily.
Alisa Kuzembaeva impressively played with shape – billowing and cut, silk print and chintz sleeves with Tudor style gaping were contrasted with tight hobble-style, lycra jersey skirting with sheer paneling. Camilla Woodman was another skilled artisan of knitwear and womenswear. Foil print silver, bronzes and blacks were set against large gilt edged voluminous sweaters or feather-type skirts.
If anything, the RCA Graduate Fashion Show showed that the UK’s fashion education system is the world’s finest, intent in producing future fashion’s most talented progenies. Let’s see how many end up in some of the world’s top design houses.