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Graduate Fashion Week: Designers to Watch from Sheffield Hallam University

by Isabel Butler

Graduate Fashion Week, based in London, takes place annually to showcase the work of 2024 fashion graduate. The week hosts universities from all over the UK, talks from industry leaders, awards, and partnerships with brands like L’Oréal, Gymshark, and Next.

Each show oozed talent and creativity, and when 3pm rolled around, it was time to head to the Debenhams stage for Sheffield Hallam University’s catwalk. 

Showcasing 12 student designers, the runway was brought to life with bright colours, mixed textures, and a variety of silhouettes.

Ellie Williams

Ellie Williams’ collection, “24 Hour People,” was designed for a modern-day raver, “someone who can deal with different temperatures throughout the night.”

The designs were inspired by raves through the ‘80s, ‘90s and 21st century as well as the use of drugs and alcohol that accompanied them. The designer explained how she enjoyed the idea of oversized clothing being something lightweight that makes movement easy. This would create the perfect outfit for dancing. 

Her four designs consisted of black garments with red accents that looked almost neon. The red stitching gave off the illusion of strobe lights used at raves, and each model wore a pair of sunglasses, an accessory heavily associated with raving. To form this vibe, she took inspiration from the lighting in a series of images she’d collected.


Jessica Elrick

Being sat next to Jessica Elrick for her catwalk, her pride and excitement as her garments strutted down the runway reminded me of just how much fashion means to those in the industry. 

Elrick’s collection was centred around a “More is More” philosophy, with one model even styled by wearing 4 pairs of sunglasses. Hanging around three of the models’ décolletage was a colourful bag, corset, or neckline in the shape of a paint splatter, something I interpreted as the “more” oozing out of them.

Her pieces were brought to life as through a white base which enhanced the vibrant, colourful focal points. Each look was unique, yet the collection had a beautiful fluidity connecting them.

Ella Jones

Ella Jones’ collection was titled “Ultimate Feminine,” with quotes included in her portfolio such as “She must be sweet-voiced and gentle” and “For her clothing must be modest and becoming” providing an insight into her concept. 

Each look used stereotypical feminine colours of pink and cream paired with elements of 2024 trend predictions, such as bows and pearls, aiding the creation of her designs. 

The garments consisted of a mixture between  lace detailing, chunky cardigans, sheer mesh materials, and ruching and draping techniques to create a maximalist approach. 

Smilte Vitauskaite

Smilte Vitauskaite used fashion to explore sexuality and “what sensuality means.. in relation to the female form.”

She titled her collection “Gaze on a Gaze” and took inspiration from fetish fashion as well as contemporary trends and BDSM (Bondage, Dominance, Submission, Sadism, Masochism).

Vitauskaite’s designs were made up of black, deep red, and blues across different materials such as leather - a fabric commonly associated with BDSM clothing. 

Playing with gender, the runway saw on of the models in a suit which depicted a dominance against the other corset-inspired garments which projected a more sensual femininity.


Iona Peat

Looking to those who aided Richard Arkwright, John Smedley, and Florence Nightingale’s research, Iona Peat’s designs, titled “Do The Women Wear the Trousers,” were centred around the concept of “critical yet overlooked dimension.” 

Inspired by those who helped build crucial foundations for the success of Arkwright, Smedley, and Nightingale, a specific contingent made up mostly of women, their achievements in advancing the textiles, manufacturing and healthcare didn’t go unnoticed, just unappreciated. Peat provided the example of Florence Nightingale’s work with other women during the Crimean War to provide sterile treatment. 

The quilted garments that took to the runway were printed with paint marks and handprints reflecting their hard work. One model carried a bag overspilling with knitting needles and material further showing their contribution. Elaborating on this, the collection also included everyday ‘feminine items’ such as long coats and cardigans to show how ‘normal women’ contributed - not just those in the spotlight. 

Talitha Stead

Creating a collection that would reflect her mother’s adventurous journey through life, Talitha Stead explored the different cultures and influences that have inspired her mum’s fashion. 

She explained how her mum is not afraid of taking on new challenges and has gone from exploring snowy mountains in New Zealand to raising her three children in Hong Kong. 

Reflecting her mum’s resilience, the catwalk saw a collection of puffer jackets with large protective arms and hoods. The items were shielding their wearer, allowing them to face anything.


Bryn Ifan

“A Sailor’s Night” by Bryn Ifan was inspired by a collection of things including Ifan’s dad's time in the navy and a platter called “Apollo and The Muses.”

The concept was to show a modern eye on maximalist, baroque art, “emphasising the dramatic, exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail.” 

Based around characters, the barmaid, the sailor and the band, it wasn’t just a runway but rather set the scene for a full performance. 

Each design used bronze, gold and navy-blue tones, with the gold accents specifically bringing out a baroque art style and sensuous richness. 

One standout piece was a large rimmed hat that held up a flowing skirt through chain-like strings. Awe-inspiring creativity. 


Jasmyn Lopuszanski

Jasmyn Lopuszanski’s “Layers of Trust” is targeted at youthful and elegant women who have “a sense of self-worth and sophistication.”

Relating to the mental, physical, and emotional stages of being in a new relationship after being heartbroken, the garments tell the story of a woman who learns to love again.

Lopuszanski was awarded “The Highly Commended Student of the Sheffield Hallam University Fashion Presentation.”


Beth Eaton

Taking inspiration from her Grandparents who got married in the 60’s, Beth Eaton explored the juxtaposition between the term “The Swinging Sixties” and “traditional married life.”

For her designs, she used the garments worn by her grandparents in their wedding album and old family photos as her basis. Then she explored her collections titular question, “Did the Sixties Swing?,“ through different silhouettes, styles, and abstract shapes.

Eaton’s designs were heavy on the prints and colour, something often associated with the 60’s fashion. We also saw the pieces styled with headbands, ruffles, and oversized collars to exaggerate each element.


Zoe Allison

For her “Hand-Me-Downs” collection, Zoe Allison used her upbringing in semi-rural West Yorkshire and time in the Moorlands as a muse for her designs - specifically including the texture of wildflowers. 

With her mum’s love for nature relating to this theme, the designs also became an exploration of opposites due to her dad’s passion for music. She depicted their relationship in her final looks to show how two things can work harmoniously, no matter their differences. 

Charlotte Makinson 

Winner of the “Sheffield Hallam University Fashion Presentation” award, Charlotte Makinson presented her “A Modern Scream” graduate collection. 

She revealed her collection is a nod to environmental damage and missing elements from today’s society. 

The designs aimed to promote multi-use garments and indicated towards fashion activism. This gesture towards environmental damage was creatively woven into the looks through the petrol blue accents against an otherwise fully black outfit to give the illusion of oil pills.

Emily Walsh

Titled “Girls, Girls, Girls,” the basis for Emily Walsh’s project was the concept of “women in the bedroom.”

By creating a collection based on the taboo of sex and drugs, often seen in modern-day TV documentaries, Walsh aimed to feed the topic into mainstream fashion whilst turning the catwalk into a performance. 

A standout of Walsh’s designs was a large hand with sharp, red nails that hung over the model’s shoulders. Though up for interpretation, this symbolised the strong, dangerous grip society has over women and their sensuality.

Edited by Emily Duff

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