LONDON — After going digital last year due to COVID-19 restrictions, Central Saint Martins BA Fashion has returned to a physical showcase with an unusual, but optimistic, lineup of graduate shows.
Usually, the fashion course would host an internal show first, then select around 40 standout students to showcase six to eight looks from their graduate collections during a live presentation for press.
This year, instead, the show included nearly everyone. Some 102 designers donned one defining look from their graduate collections, and walked down the runway. In some cases, the designer’s friends showed off the clothes.
While it’s difficult to form an opinion about a designer based on just one look, the format did offer more variety to viewers in terms of design, concept and showmanship. It also allowed the audience to have the final say on the standout collections.
The event was hosted next to the Central Saint Martins building on Granary Square under the semi-open-air Victorian-era steel and glass West Handyside Canopy. The snaking runway was covered with patchwork fabrics and oversized props including a mannequin, a pair of scissors, and an iron. Guests were socially distanced.
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Women’s wear student Claudia Gusellahe opened the fast-paced runway show. She modeled a voluminous dress made with hundreds of eggshells. The title of her collection was “Everything Is Great” and its central concept was “overcoming a traumatic event and finding acceptance.”
In the great tradition of CSM, the show offered up a wide range of mind-bending ideas. Some students explored textile manipulation, including Lynn La Yaung, Isabella Smith, Hana Minowa, Tzu-Yang Huang, Callum Maunder, Thomas Kindon and Jad Greisaty.
Some went for extreme proportions such as Ella Morris, Victoria Valette, Liz Marine Shin, Arianne Scott, Amon Kale, Sofia Turekova, Steven Chevallier, Konstantinos Damis, Jamie Howes and Kristy Ellerbrok.
Stevie Boy’s politically charged design, and Mathilde Schaub’s gravity defying graduate collection. Tianwei Zhang/WWD
Others focused on elevating wardrobe staples, such as Rosa Kim, Manyi Liu, Maya Kitagawa, Hongjin Wu and Yeonhong Lee.
Other standouts included designer Stevie Boy, who used his designs to show solidarity with the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. While wearing a mask to cover his real identity, he wrote “Fight for Hong Kong” on his back.
Print graduate Arthur Lai used Slinky toys as embellishments on a simple silhouette. The toys bounced as the model moved, and it felt like an art installation. Mathilde Schaub surprised the audience with what appeared to be a gravity-defying walk. A model carried the designer down the catwalk and both were covered in a big silver dress.
Women’s wear designer Seli Arku-Korsi took home the grand prize L’Oréal Professionnel Young Talent Award for his “Awake in Sleep” collection.
It featured 3D-like, mirage-effect prints based on his paintings that focus primarily on beauty and esoteric symbolism, representing his “hazy and sometimes unclear state of mind.”
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This year’s judging panel, which included CLM Agency founder Camilla Lowther, creative director Harris Elliott, stylist Jeanie Annan-Lewin, and designer Matty Bovan also picked two joint first runners-up and two joint second runners-up.
They were Karina Bondareva from print and Dylan Etienne-Ramsay from fashion design and marketing. The second runners-up were Ellen Poppy Hill from fashion design and marketing and Jamie Howes from knitwear.
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