Brighton was where I always intended to do my Fashion Textiles degree. That is until I realised that – despite my wonderful teacher‘s tireless and long-suffering encouragement – I was just not good at it. Great at conceptualising it, great at talking about it, but just no good at making it. I was always much better at words than I ever was at, well, WORK.
If I had gone to Brighton then this would have been MY graduate show I was attending this year. That’s why I jumped at the invitation – it held quite a lot of left over nostalgia and longing. What on Earth would my life have been like?
Hosted in very cool Angel at the charmingly school gym-esque Candid Arts gallery, I made perfect time (five minutes late) and perched myself on one of the excruciatingly hard wooden benches that lined the catwalk. Our editor however, did not. The lovely lady with the list very kindly did not shut the doors so Shaun was able to slip in, VERY fashionably late, at the last second.
Where should I start? I was very impressed by the overall standard of workmanship on show, and it definitely lived up the the quality I’ve come to expect from Brighton graduates. I’ve managed to whittle my favourites down to four, and I very much look forward to watching their progress over the next few years. I feel sure that there’s a huge star in the making amongst them. And here they are…
Jessica Katie Moore
I must admit that I did take a sneak peek at the designers before the show, just to see if there was anyone I really wanted to look out for. Jessica’s featured piece in the Mint Magazine show introduction was stunning – black baroque style lace that made me think instantly of Marchesa. I loved that this luxe fabric was roughed up with a gothic draped coat and Dr Martens, which stopped it being too glam and added a grungy waif and stray edge. When I attempted to stalk her, I could only find her lookbook on a photography website but I was entranced by the styling. I wasn’t disappointed at the show, with a pencil skirt in more lace catching my eye. Shaun and I agreed that this was a collection that could go straight on sale anywhere and do well.
Alice says her collection ’takes inspiration from colour psychology, art, sportswear, tents, 1950s outerwear and product design’. So random and so right, though I think I’d sum the look up as ‘Prozac future Barbie’. This collection is so not my taste at all, but it was so well executed that I can’t help but give it mad props. The neoprene type fabrics and the fluorescent zips were reminiscent of Michael Kors’ wetsuit dresses, but the addition of metallics and amazingly constructed volume made it something completely new. I also really loved the colour pairing of lilac with neon yellow. I’ll be copying that this summer…
Anna’s collection was an unusual choice for me, but something about her relaxed, 70s festival vibe just appealed to some hidden part of me that longs to drift about in floaty dresses and oversized cardigans. Oh to be waif-like and long-legged, eh? Whether I could wear it or not, plenty could and they’d look amazing. Anna’s collection was another look that could be sold right away, and so many girls would jump on this style. Anna told me after the show ‘I just want to make clothes girls want to wear’ which is quite admirable for a fashion student – many of whom really just want to shock and stand out. Anna did manage to stand out, but it was through impeccable finishing and staying true to what she thought girls would feel happy in. My favourite outfit was a sheer dress with a plaid patten, with a plaid blanket cape over it. I really loved that Anna had used a pattern that’s usually associated with warm, thick fabrics and transferred it to light and summery garments. The whole collection made me think of night time beach parties and chilly summer festivals. And I want it. SO bad.
This was the most technically impressive for me. Thousands of hand-stitched buttons, shearling, prints, knit…it REALLY got me going. I definitely found this collection the most exciting and it was so original. You could see exactly how it would translate to ready-to-wear and I would be snapping up anything that came of it. The Scandi / Fair Isle patterns, chunky texture and knee patches were so what I look for in winterwear. There were leggings with a pattern that looked like bird footprints in snow / prison uniform: a lovely contrast of freedom vs. imprisonment that may well have been me reading too much into it. But that doesn’t stop me enjoying it.
I found it very difficult to select just four designers to feature, so I feel it’s only right that I give the following honourable mentions: Sophia Fenlon for her incredible soft gold brocade fabrics and an amazing white wool dress, Charlotte Hetheridge for her beautiful blurry prints, and Laura Jeans Da Silva for excellent lace and knit.
We had such a super time at the show: interesting collections, great display of the project lookbooks and plenty of cheap Champagne afterwards. All the graduates looked so excited and I’m delighted that I was invited to introduce them to you.
And just because a Central Saint Martins fashion graduate can afford to send seven pugs down their catwalk doesn’t mean they have one iota more talent than the less-connected, less parent-funded Brighton grads. Let’s remember – you don’t have to be stuffed full of dollar to design clothes that make people feel happy. Keep a close eye on these magic four, because I’m pretty sure we’ll be seeing their work again soon.
You can see more of the Brighton Fashion graduate collections on the HOWL Women’s Pinterest board.