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The Highs and Lows of Graduate Fashion Week Day Three

by Michaela Piontkova

Graduate Fashion Week (GFW) is an event that gives fashion students across the UK a chance to present their work to potential employers. 

Spanning four days, the schedule is packed

with fashion shows, live talks, exhibitions, and more. 

On the third day we were privy to the GFW International Catwalk in the morning, followed by a joint show featuring the University of Central Lancashire and Norwich University of the Arts Catwalk in the afternoon. 

With the first runway of the day kicking off at 10:30am sharp, it was certainly more on time than the majority of shows during fashion weeks. This suggests that either the backstage production was strict, which gave the young designers a good idea of the professional world, or the designers themselves were already well-organised, showing their potential to become successful. Either way, it left a good impression on the audience.

We were then presented with over 20 collections of fashion graduates from their member

universities around the world. Although this is an impressive number that certainly gives space to multiple international designers, it almost gives space to too many of them. 

Now, the diversity of the partner universities is truly inclusive. Alongside the traditionally fashion-oriented countries like Italy, China, or Japan, we also saw designers from Germany, Columbia, South Africa, Uruguay, just to name a few. 

For them to be able to present their work in one of the fashion capitals is a unique opportunity to

expand to the world and gain international success. Equally, it is a great way to show the industry leaders the style and talent hidden in countries not necessarily associated with fashion. 

For this, GFW International deserves a huge pat on the shoulder, however on the flip side, to present all of the designers at once disadvantages them all.

The amount of shows were noticeably less compared to the previous two days when there were five slots for fashion shows, most of them solo shows. This was caused by the days being significantly longer than the third day - which concluded at 5pm while Monday and Tuesday had the program planned up till 9pm. 

Let’s do a quick maths. Twenty fashion schools, each with at least one representative, makes for a minimum of twenty designers each with a collection consisting of six outfits. This totals to an incredible 120 looks for the audience to judge, all in a 40 minutes window. 

To compare it to the industry standard, fashion shows usually last anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes each, and most will consist of one collection only. 

When it comes to joint shows, you wouldn’t normally see more than four or five designers, hence four or five collections. Twenty is just too much. 

Instead of one big one, the show should have been split up into shorter ones simply so the audience had some space to absorb what they just saw. It’s already hard enough for an emerging designer to catch the buyer’s eye, never mind when in a crowd of twenty others. 

Another issue was the lack of marketing materials provided. It’s almost impossible to find a full list of the designers, which unfortunately makes them easier to forget in such a huge crows. 

Imagine if someone put thirty coffees in front of you, asked you to take five sips of each, then

asked you to point out the best one; you won’t remember the taste of the most by the time you get to the last. 

The second show of the day, a joint show between University of Central Lancashire and Norwich

University of the Arts Catwalk, was a similar case. 

Even though it was a drastic reduction to only two universities, they were represented by all their graduates, rather than a selection, which made about 30 students in total, equalling 30 collections. 

At this point, the buyers and potential employers saw about fifty collections in one day, in three hours actually, which again, can be overwhelming.

As for the designers who managed to leave an impact, which only shows their talent, Hannah Brickers from Norwich University comes to mind. 

Brickers presented her “Out Of Office” collection, which seemed to take inspiration from the JU-NNA AW24 collection inspired by the drunk and exhausted workers sprawled across Tokyo’s streets. The garments reflected English young office workers with one model wearing a loose shirt, boxers, and holding an empty bottle of beer. 

Another wore a tank top and pyjama trousers, holding a box stamped with “FIRED” to demonstrate moving out of an office.

The next favorite was another from Norwich University: Leonor Mira De Mira’s “Fera” collection. 

Connecting art with practicality De Mira presented us with feminine garments made of high-quality fabrics worthy of a red-carpet moment.

Similar in the practicality department, a bit higher in the craftmanship quality, was Rujing Qian’s “Metamorphosis,” a collection from another Norwich graduate. 

Going from demonic black and red mesh flames to an elegant white and pink ethereal dress, Qian perfectly communicated the concept, even with a limited number of outfits.

Many designers drew inspiration from traditional clothes around the world. Most notably, Lareb Syed Nadeem from Central Lancashire University who created a cohesive collection that didn’t simply copy the traditional clothes. Instead, Nadeem took elements from henna paintings and modest clothes typical of her Pakistani background to create new looks that respected the culture.

From GFW International, Giuseppe Magnano garnered a lot of attention. Sending some of the models down the runway covered head-to-toe in lace, Magnano’s love for Extravaganza and Harlequinn was clearly reflected in this collection and his eye for detail portraits him as a skilled designer with a lot of potential.

Last but not least, Sumeng Sun was a top pick from the day through a fun, artistic, yet wearable menswear collection. 

With conversation about menswear being dull compared to womenswear having been prevalent for some time now, Sun took the opportunity to fill the gap in the market. The show proved that men's fashion in fact can be equally as interesting as womenswear.

While the organisation has room for improvement, overall day 3 of GFW was full of amazing fashion and great opportunities for both the

visitors and graduates.

Edited by Emily Duff

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