Skip to main content

Riot Grrls, Punk Feminism, and Powerful Women: A Look into Day Four at Graduate Fashion Week

by Mohsina Alam

At Graduate Fashion Week, stunning displays and playful designs created by students from over twenty different universities could be found everywhere. Spanning across runways, presentations, displays, shops, stalls, and more, fay four began with an incredible hour-long collective catwalk. 


Each collection was hugely varied, with designers drawing inspiration from the pandemic, technology, and cultural heritage, to name but a few of the themes.


A core ethos spanning each of the collections was sustainability. Although the pieces ranged drastically in colour palettes and fabrics, many of the designers chose to utilise recycled and deadstock materials. 


Elle Curzon, a graduate of De Montfort University whose designs walked on day two of GFW, stated that she “trailed charity shops” in Leeds for bedsheets, which she upcycled to create a ruffled, rococo-style tiered skirt.


Alexandra Pantovich and Eli Heijink, two designers whose collections appeared on the runway on day four, both drew inspiration from punk music, feminist subcultures, and their own personal gendered experiences. 



Alexandra Pantovich - “Pretty Grrls”


Inspired by the ‘90s punk-feminist movement ‘Riot Grrls’ and classic rocker style icons like Courtney Love, Pantovich’s four-look collection possessed both glamour and grunge. The silhouettes created by oversized jackets gave the collection a masculine sharpness, which was softened by gold embellishments and feminine prints. The pieces were made from vegan leatherette, duchess satin, and stretch mesh, locally sourced in London.

 

Pantovich also explained that her love of history influenced the Pretty Grrls collection. She states: “Drawing inspiration from the intricate details of [Queen Elizabeth I] dresses, I have reinterpreted them through printed motifs on my garments”. 


In this way, the looks embody the power that accompanies regalness, in a subversive, effortlessly cool fashion.

 

Uplifting women and conveying female solidarity was important for Pantovich within her designs. As well as her nods to powerful women through history, her own female friends and family were integral to the creation of the runway looks. The brooches featured in these looks were either second-hand or personal pieces passed down from family members. She also sourced small adornments like buttons from her grandmother who was a seamstress. The chunky embellishments acted as small pieces of armour, giving the wearer strength through femininity.


Eli Heijink - “Mx GRRRL”


Leeds-based designer Eli Heijink was similarly inspired by the punk-rock and Riot Grrrl movement. His six runway looks utilised a wider colour palette compared to Pantovich; ranging from royal blue to mauve, to a gradient of red shades which felt almost reminiscent of the British punk movement.


The most memorable aspect of Heijink’s collection is the print of the prussian-blue set, the fifth look to walk. The print came from one of Heijink’s collage paintings, which was inspired by the punk music that he was listening to. He was then able to translate the painting into print through cyanotype printing.



The collection was also inspired by the designer’s journey of coming out as a Trans man. He states that he ‘experimented with draping to achieve the free flowing DIY aesthetic of Queer culture’, which is also part of the ethos of Punk subculture, he explains. The shapes created by the looks are reflective of a desire to resist conformity and a willingness to occupy space. 


Heijink utilised locally-sourced deadstock fabrics, including cashmere selvedge trims, cotton-blend tailoring fabrics, and woven wool, as well as scrap leather.



Heijink and Pantovich’s collections were a part of an overall incredibly impressive Graduate Fashion Week. Their willingness to traverse cultural and gendered political terrain resulted in powerful, innovative looks. Further, their conscientious approach to sustainability within their work offers an exciting and positive glimpse into the future of fashion.


Edited by Emily Duff

Most Popular

Fashion For a Cause: Brands That Stand with Palestine and the history of fashion as a form of Activism

by Oana-Maria Moldovan For over two months, there has been an ongoing genocide war in Gaza. To simplify a long and horrific issue, the situation that started, on a larger scale, around one hundred years ago, and has only become amplified since October 7th 2023. Taking place around the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and Israel–Lebanon border, the armed conflict is between Israel and Hamas-led Palestinian militant groups.  The problem is about “stolen” land. Said land is seen as an important holy part of both religions involved. But really, how holy can we consider a land to be, if people kill other people for it? It’s important to remember that this genocide is about three things: forced occupation, zionism, and religion. It’s also important to remember what ethnic erasure is. This terrible expresion, also known as cultural or ethnic assimilation, refers to the process by which the distinct cultural or ethnic identity of a particular group is gradually diminished or erased, often due to ext

‘Make Tattooing Safe Again’: Sheffield Based Tattoo Artist Exposed for Indecent Behaviour

 by Emily Fletcher TW: SA, Animal Abuse, Transphobia Photo Credit: @ meiko_akiz uki Recently, an  Instagram account  has been created to provide a  ‘space to safely give a voice to those who want to speak out about the behaviour of one, Sheffield based tattoo artist’. A  total of 40+ posts have been made by the above social media account regarding  one of Sheffield's most popular tattoo artists .  Thankfully, all posts are prefaced with a Content Warning prior to sharing screenshots of the messages that have been sent anonymously to the page. The majority of Content Warnings refer to sexual behaviour, abuse, and sexual assault. It is clear that there is a reoccurring theme within each submission, as many clients appear to have had the same experiences with the tattoo artist. Women, mostly, are being made to feel uncomfortable while being tattooed. One of the most vulnerable positions anyone can be in, tattoo artists should make their clients feel comfortable and safe during the pro

Now What? The Aftermath of the 'Manic Pixie Dream Girl'

by Susan Moore Here is a bit about me: I am an open, excitable, creative AFAB who is also moderately attractive. I have a unique sense of personal style and a personality that on the surface can only be described as “bubbly” and “quirky”. For this reason, dating is a nightmare. To be sure, I do not have a hard time finding dates or potential suitors. The problems arise when said dates spend some time with me and decide that I am a rare specimen, and the connection they feel with me is “unlike anything they have felt before”. Then, things go one of two ways.  Either a) they decide I am too high maintenance and no longer palatable, or  b) they choose to never look further than the surface and are content to date the idea of me rather than the real me. There is something rather interesting, perhaps funny, about my situation. It is in no way unique. I have met so many people who constantly dealt with the same problem. Even funnier still, is the fact that there is a trope that simultaneousl