London College Fashion mixed it up this time with their venue choice for their 2012 fashion BA show and moved Eastwards (isn't everything?) to the slightly misleadingly named Hackney House.  I thought perhaps the Soho House Group had zealously started up another members club a stone's throw away from its Shoreditch House.  In fact, Hackney House is a local council initiative and is a pop-up space that will host events on tech, food, design and fashion, showcasing all that is good about Hackney and East London.  You'll get that rammed down your throat heaps over the course of the Olympics summer whether you like it or not.  

Banish my slightly dour and dubious thoughts over the pending games.  It was definitely great for LCF to inaugurate the Hackney House space with what was another stellar year of fashion graduates.  It also gave a brilliant backdrop for photographers of Hill & Aubrey to go backstage at the show and photograph the graduates' work, as you can see from the opening images of each student that I've highlighted here.  Sixty of the ninety models were also street casted through the LCF Loves You scouting mission, which added a distinctive element to show.  As for the students' work, it's all steam ahead with innovative and intriguing ideas seen at BA level, backed up often with beautiful consideration for their lookbook imagery.  Once again, I need to thank all the students for being so diligent with uploading their lookbook and research imagery on to their Showtime profiles, doing away with the neccessity of flipping through portfolios in person.  I've picked out eight here but as always, there's always more to discover, which is where the Showtime site comes in handy, should you disagree with my choices.

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Ashleigh Downer – At first glance, Ashleigh Downer's collection looks like a cacophony bursting out of nowhere with so many elements hanging, dangling and bulbously cocooning the body.  It was only when Downer was announced as LCF's Award for Best Use of Trimmings (Not The Best Use of Wording, perhaps?), that you discovered another level to Downer's collection as she had grown all of her crystal trimmings herself, hence the name "Crystallography".  "Very little is currently known about natural organic material.  Scientists are unable to crystallize it.  This is important because once you can crystallize the material, it can be studied with x-ray crystallography.  This method is standard for determining unknown compounds" is the Wikipedia quote about organic chemistry which Dower uses to describe her collection.  The dripping crystals in luminous red and green can be seen hanging off the collar, pom pom-packed stoles and sleeves, as well as in test tubes that form a sort of embroidery on a skirt.  With this process of crystallography in mind, the other elements in the collection start to make sense too – the embroidery motifs and chosen textures all reflect images that might be found under the microscope in a biochemist's laboratory.  It poses further questions whether growing materials yourself as opposed to ordering from suppliers will be a reality or not as well as being an curious collection to behold.  

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Backstage photography by Hill & Aubrey

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Isabell Yalda Hellysaz – Every graduating class often has a student, reacting to the current state of fashion and whilst Isabell Yalda Hellysaz can be put into that group, she hasn't gone about it in predictable fashion.  She describes herself as a "minimal designer where the female is in a constant touch of masculine shapes" which is certainly true of this white-out graduate collection but it is the use of crochet, knitwear, print and surface embellishments within that strict palette of creams and whites, that makes this collection more than just an excercise in straight-off-the-bat minimal.  She contrasts soft and hard wonderfully in so many instances – a crisp white shirt with a curtain of threads running across a skirt, pvc panels giving you glimpses of flesh on a pair of straight legged trews and of course the masks which are a hybrid of fencing guards and science lab goggles contrasted with all the chunky knits.  Using craft to express Hellysaz's vision of minimal seems to be working for her.       

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Backstage photography by Hill & Aubrey

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Cassey Gan – The following Albert Camus quote: "Perhaps we cannot prevent this world from being a world in which children are tortured. But we can reduce the number of tortured children" resonated with Cassey Gan and triggered indepth research of children, who undergo labour and warfare from a young age.  The focal points of the bamboo poles weighing heavy on the front and back of silhouettes therefore represent the burden of these children.  She then contrasted that with a bold palette of brights and candy-coloured camo, a symbolism of the sense of hope and joy that children should have.  The colour combos are that mix of pastels, brights and muted shades, which I'm an eternal sucker for.  It's a collection that is emotive purely on an aesthetic level but carrying that Camus quote in mind definitely endears you even more to Gan's work.  

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Backstage photography by Hill & Aubrey

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Katharina Domokosch – Rustic is a horrid word that I've come to associate with shabby chic cottages and try-hard scrubbed wood restaurants.  It shouldn't have popped up when I saw Katharina Domokosch's work but how else to describe these clothes, inspired by the alpine uplands.  Domokosch was also concerned with the slower pace of fashion as she looked at alpine herdsmen and their handcrafted costumes, remaining unchanged for hundreds of years.  That respect for tradition is what Domokosch was striving for in her collection, whilst pushing the boundaries, by playing with painted surface textures of burlap and cork.  This gave all the silhouettes a stiffened and voluminous shape, carefully articulated in the lengthened roomy sleeves and the front-split A-line skirts.  These aren't straightforward reproductions of what the Alpine herdsmen would have worn, but rather they celebrate the essence of those time-honouring costumes.        

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Backstage photography by Hill & Aubrey

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Dual Zeng – I can't quite believe that the words "shabby chic" have come up not once, but twice in this post.  Another odious and overused term but once again, I'm forced to use it in the instance of this collection by Dual Zeng, who had a pre-occupation with distressing fabrics so that they look aged.  There was a charming way of exposing imperfections or defects in clothes as the outward facing seams, frayed edges and uneven hems were supported by Zeng's choice of materials. I loved the way the delicate lace  were attached to grey chiffon skirts that looked like they had been dunked in dirty dishwater.  A knife pleat skirt had a slight bit of shimmer to them with silver glitter panels.  A denim waistcoat was panelled with cream lace swirls.  The customised glitter platform shoes worn with frill-edged socks were also the perfect downtrodden yet glittering accompaniments to the collection.  It's a wardrobe for any 21st century Cindrella wannabes.  

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Backstage photography by Hill & Aubrey

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Ekaterina Gerasimova – It's clear that Ekaterina Gerasimova's skills lie in illustration as well as fashion design as she based her graduate collection on Latin American parables seen in tattoos or religious iconography, drawing out the most absorbing and lavish graphics that you see here.  There was nothing slap dash about the way she used this imagery in her collection either as she sought out different ways of layering up surface textiles, such as print devore, felting, applique and traditional and digital embroidery. With Saga furs, she created some collaborative pieces that demonstrate that there's a craft element that can be used with this controversial material.  My eyes were drawn to the painted leather jackets and the intricate embroidery where Gerasimova's drawings really come alive, almost as if they might leap out from the garments and dance in front of you.  I've only scratched the surface of Latin American imagery with my trip to Mexico City and this collection tells me I definitely need to dig deeper.

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Backstage photography by Hill & Aubrey

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Elly Cheng – There are some collections where you just get instant happy vibes from and Elly Cheng's was one of them.  Perhaps it's the homeliness and familiarity of it all.  Cheng said she was influenced by childhood memories, of her mother and grandmother and their floral dresses and aprons.  This translated into layers of hand dyed sheepskin and wadding contrasted with translucent silicone not unlike the protective layer of a vinyl apron over a colourful mumsy dress.  The colour palette must have been derived from a the mindset of a child – where everything is technicolour and derived from Polly Pocket and Barbie toys.  Despite the matronly influences, Cheng's collection comes off as deliciously youthful and vibrant, aided by the clompy pastel coloured Buffalo-esque trainers and see-through silicone backpacks.  Cheng may have been going for childsplay but the results are anything but.    

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Backstage photography by Hill & Aubrey

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Anjie JiMin An – The journos and stylists next to me instantly gave their nods of approval with regards to Anjie JiMin An's collection.  It was by far, the most instantly wearable collection but that doesn't mean it loses any points on creativity, purely because of an original inspiration point.  JiMin An looked at Japanese teenage biker gang kids from the eighties called the Bousouzoku.  These are girls who still would have been at high school and thus we have this effed up uniform, fusing biker elements with the familiar navy blue pleated skirts, shirts and sweaters with sailor collars.  The styling of these rebellious school girls was particularly effective in the show with the models wearing Rapunzel-length black haired wigs, with the exception of the last model who came out with silvery white hair and an equally blinding leather jacket, fronted by cage-like straps.  I'm not sure what the protocol is with acquiring a graduate's collection but I'm ready to ask JiMin An, how she'd feel about selling me a few pieces.  Better yet, if a retailer wants to snap her up, this collection is ripe for selling.  

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Backstage photography by Hill & Aubrey

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Comments (18)

  1. Incredible collections – with a great variety. Downers collection reminds me of Tim Walkers photography :)
    http://www.fashionablepeople.co.uk

  2. ttea says:

    I like the use of ethnic motifs and colour in the Cassey Gan collection. I like the romantic quality of Dual Zeng’s collection, with the ripped, flowy fabric. I’ve come to realize that each city has it’s own unique fashion style, and it is highly evident in these collections. Although I’m sure there are many different ethnicities and cultures represented, there is still that fundamental essence of London present. For instance, I did a post on NYC fashion not too long ago,
    http://fashionananthropologicalpointofview.blogspot.ca/2012/06/new-york-mentality.html and it talks about how noticeable and unique NYC fashion is compared to other cities.
    Looking at these collections makes me think more and more about going to London as a possibility for school, it’s very impressive seeming.
    http://fashionananthropologicalpointofview.blogspot.ca/

  3. Jazper says:

    Lovely to see some great new talent!
    http://thriftedandmodern.com/blog

  4. What an EVOLUTION of Style!
    Lovely Blog :)
    -xoxo-

  5. What an EVOLUTION of Style!
    Lovely Blog :)
    -xoxo-

  6. What an EVOLUTION of Style!
    Lovely Blog :)
    -xoxo-

  7. walda.m says:

    I love how you’ve described each designer and their work. The looks are great and different, like it alot.
    Check out my blog…http://be-you-do-fashion.blogspot.co.uk/
    xoxo

  8. Hillary says:

    Omg omg all of these designers have such inspiring work and I already sort of stalked these grads through showtime~ ( I practically liked every collection on fb :P). But um these collections sort of kicked CSM out of the number one stop in my potential colleges list. Oh dear, I’m rambling…Oh yeah and I really like your blog too. It’s really inspiring~

  9. fashion-hot says:

    such a fresh and stylish look! and i am in love with your hair!

  10. Serdane says:

    So many collection with teir own universe and thoughts about designing. I love it !
    http://www.younglington.wordpress.com

  11. this is the FUTURE

  12. Maya says:

    This makes me so excited about the future of fashion. So many amazing designers!

  13. jean cave says:

    Love the colour blocking, easy-wear styling of Cassy Gan.

  14. Stimulating collections, invigorating ideas from LCF. :)
    ‚ù• http://TheGUILTYHYENA.COM

  15. Fantastic stuff. I love the washed out pastels.

  16. The concept was great but the performance and the way they project it is uncomfortable for me. Maybe, my taste for art is not that ideal that I cannot appreciate this.

  17. The fashion for all generation. A lady gaga concepts I guess. But looks so nice.

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