London College of Fashion kicks off the year of MA/BA shows with names, names and more names to vaguely remember for the future. Though it's like that it's the ideas, a particular motifs or a technique that lingers longer in memory. LCF's MA exhibition at Bloomsbury House, showcasing the final projects of the fashion artefact, digital fashion, fashion curation and footwear to name but a few, just gets bigger and better, year on year. So much so, that I've had to split out my posts on both the exhibition at the MA show which was held once again at the V&A's Raphael Hall last Thursday. I'll kick off with fashion artefact and footwear design, the part of the exhibition that was particularly impressive not only because the designs left an impression but also that they had real sustainable legs. You forgot that these were MA graduate projects but looked at them as though they were viable products, ready to go to market and that was the case for a lot of the students anyway which makes it doubly exciting to watch out for.
Ruth Holland (MA Fashion Artefact)
The upcycling concept of putting rubbish to good use isn't anything new but you would never guess that Ruth Holland's pastel hued neck confectionary was made out of industrial waste materials. String and plastic cording find their way into multi-coloured configurations that are twisted together with traditional rope-making techniques. It's the delicious application of colour that really transforms this waste into something special.
Linda Holten Ramsvik (MA Fashion Artefact)
LCF has seen some real travel bag gems come through in the last few years such as Sarah Williams and her unexpectedly cuved handmade luggage. Linda Holten Ramsvik looks to add herself to that category with her final project that was inspired by travelling and the multi-purpose needs for the modern day bag carrier. Proving her point, I myself was carrying a heavy DSLR, a leather tote bag and a smaller handbag. Her creations here negates that need with her two or even three in one bags. Safari waistcoats come with a hood and huge pockets. A sunglasses carrier holds four glasses. A granny grocery trolley gets a neat transformation into something sleek (I secretly wish I could get away with a granny trolley, what with my weak wrists). Texture in the form of deconstructed Norwegian embroidery prevents the line-up from looking too flat.
Hoon Chung (MA Fashion Footwear)
3D printing is slowly cropping up in fashion in a way that means anytime soon, I'm going to have to go and see it for myself because I still can't quite believe that a 3D object with facets, curves and highly specific shapes can be printed out. The very word print throws me off entirely. Hoon Chung's 3D printed shoes opens up the eyes to the possibility of a pair of shoes coming out of a "printer". They're very much in line with the sort of thoughtful innovation that the likes of Helen Furber worked on when she was at LCF, rethinking the traditional shoe makine process and pushing the field forward into an unpredictable place.
Anne Gammelgaard (MA Fashion Artefact)
Not every graduate approached their final project with the goal to put out a commercial collection of products. Anne Gammelgaard based her artefact design on a character - a thing-finder rooting through a post-apocalyptic scenario to create instruments that will aid her on her special mission. It's as if Gammelgaard is writing a film and creating the props for it with complete conviction. As per her character's story, all the materials are found which shows the breadth of what upcycling can really do.
Cat Potter (MA Fashion Footwear)
Cat Potter's wooden "shoes" landed in my inbox a while back and they got me salivated for the exhibition if her peers were going to be anywhere near as focused as her collection. Working with University College London and their 3-axis milling machines, normally used in architecture to create much larger scale building components, Cat wanted to bypass the conventional shoe components and create an object out of wood that would gradually build up from a rectangular block to a more shoe-like sandal shape. Functionality wasn't the goal here as Cat wanted to explore an entirely alternative mode of construction. Blending in furniture and architecture into footwear isn't entirely new but it's interesting that these "shoes" take the methodology behind those aforementioned fields and applies them to footwear. It's an extreme that can really only be appreciated when you see Cat's future work which hopefully we will see more of.
Christina Hamilton (MA Fashion Artefact)
If I had passed Christina Hamilton's work a year ago, I might not have been as interested in her saddlery led bike accessories. The Tweed Run experience of last year and the fact that Steve has just got himself a handsome new bike makes Christina's work suddenly all the more relevant. Not that she needs fairweather cyclists like myself. Whether it's down to Boris bikes or not, London is a cyclist-heavy city and handsome accessories that don't sacrifice aesthetic for functionality will only become higher in demand. Christina hopes to develop a business out of her leather bike wares that are made using traditional saddlery techniques and on the bikes at the exhibition, her pieces already looked like they were ready to hit the road.
Chi Yuen (MA Fashion Footwear)
I actually met Chi (also called Cherry) back in 2008 in San Francisco as part of the Arts of Fashion competition. She was doing womenswear back then but has refocused on footwear and has since gained work experience at the likes of Celine and Alexander Wang. Her graduate collection is really geared towards launching a solo brand. The warped and draped leather as well as the ruching of fur are unexpected details in this highly polished collection. These extremities are tempered enough to the point where you can already see them walking down the street, a recurring theme with a lot of the MA Fashion Artefacts/Footwear graduates.
Jen Wang (MA Fashion Artefact)
I was trying to rack my brains to see whether previous LCF fashion artefacts students had done sunglasses and in fact Jen Wang is the first one to do it. It was also the first time I'd ever tried on anything at a graduate exhibition which made the reality of Jen Wang bringing these glasses to production, all the more appealing. Based on bipolar personalities and the sunglasses as a face-changer, these highly complex designs really put Wang's sunglasses in a different league from the bulk of standardised frames that exist. Designers sunglasses so often rely on the strength of a brand or a logo and Jen Wang really opens up the opportunties of pushing sunnies to becoming the central focus rather than the tack-on accessory. Incidentally, it was also in China that Jen made these exquisite sunglasses, which sheds light on how the Made in China label will inevitably change in the future. Another Wang to add into the fashion fold would be no bad thing if we were able to get our mitts on sunglasses of this ilk.