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Don’t Underestimate Student Fashion

by Jess Clark

Student fashion is something that can never be underestimated. It is beautifully rich, varied, vibrant, groundbreaking - not to mention the starting point for all of the greats. 

At the heart of it is UAL, and, specifically, the London College of Fashion. Famously, designers like Alexander McQueen attended Central Saint Martins, with the school being where they first made their mark. 

And, at the end of 2023, UAL announced that 8 of their graduates had won at the British Fashion Council awards. 

This includes London College of Fashion graduate Jonathan Anderson, alumni of 2005, who won the Designer of the Year award for his work as the creative director of Loewe and his eponymous brand JW Anderson. A full circle moment, having won in first in 2012 (Emerging Talent Award - Ready-To-Wear), 2013 (New Establishment Designer), 2014 (Menswear Designer), 2015 (Menswear and Womenswear Designer), 2017 (Womenswear and Accessories Designer), and, finally, 2020 (Creativity).

This is incredibly significant: it shows the wider fashion industry the dizzying heights that students can reach, and could act as inspiration and motivation for those studying currently. It also shows how UAL degrees can be utilised in the years after graduation. 

Furthermore, the UAL involvement in London Fashion Week gives a significant opportunity for students to showcase their work to a new audience on an international stage. 

The London College of Fashion Postgraduate Presentation for London Fashion Week took place on the 16th February, with an “immersive exhibition” being able to view on the East Bank Campus of LCF, which was free and accessible to the public. 

Rob Phillips, the creative Director for the School of Design and Technology, said “The results these graduate designers offer range from highly commercial work to completely new ideologies around the physical manifestation of fashion, all executed to the highest standard.” 

The LCF immersive exhibition featured work from all degrees and areas of discipline throughout the institutions that make up the LCF. 

Some of the works are varied and some, in particular the works seen from the menswear students, play with gender and silhouettes in a way that is entirely flattering and stunning. 

For example, the work Ziyao Zang has over exaggerated silhouettes, with elements such as culottes and oversized blazers which blend with bows and tighter fabrics. 

This is a theme that is seen throughout the work, and something which has been reflected in wider popular culture and a wider acceptance of more expressive and varied pieces for men that go beyond typical male silhouettes, through the pieces worn by celebrities such as Harry Styles and Pedro Pascal. 

This also demonstrates the significance of fashion students, and how their influence from their final projects being shown to the wider public and fashion industry. 

This can eventually influence their work as graduates and in the later stages of their career. 

The interactive nature of the UAL exhibition for London Fashion Week is also noteworthy. 

This enables the public to see the wider work that UAL students partake in, and the ways in which future students can create elements that the wider public could interact with. 

The works of MA Fashion Photography Students were also showcased.

 Klara Ahman’s photography is standout, specifically for the way in which Ahman has captured their subject, who is a vibrant, expressive person of colour. 

Although this does not seem overly fashionable at first glance, fashion photography takes so many forms in wider society, and makes luxury fashion available to society through iconic magazines such as Vogue.

 Often, fashion is more than just an expertly crafted item of clothing. It is about the person, and their personality that enables the work of the designer to be brought to life in a wonderful manner. 

Fashion design and development student @hannahevelyndesigns (on Instagram) uses feminine elements within her “Secret Garden” collection, with delicate flowers and bouquets that have been used from a London market, and inspiration from historical silhouettes. 

UAL is showcasing an unbelievably talented field of students who have crafted skills that allow their breakthrough into the fashion industry, which can be sustained after graduation and beyond. 

Edited by Emily Duff

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