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As I was wandering around the quiet rooms of Central Saint Martins' fashion studio to take a closer look at this year's crop of MA fashion graduates, a conversation was murmuring in the background between Louise Wilson, whose voice can boom across a room making it hard not to eavesdrop and Fleet Bigwood, noted textiles designer and head of print at Central Saint Martins.  Bigwood was not happy with my taking pictures of the students' portfolios and samples whilst Wilson was fortunately coming to my defense and saying "She's giving exposure to the students!"  It ended up being a much ado nothing conversation as I quickly assured them that I would be obtaining permission from all students to feature their work and Wilson thankfully let me get on with it.  

From Bigwood's viewpoint though, I could see why he had reason to quibble.  The show at Central Saint Martins this year was highly edited, down from the usual twenty-something students selected to show to a heavily reduced number of fourteen (thirteen, if you consider that one student showed two collections).  It was also a crop that was very focused in on the textiles discipline and indeed, four of the students I've picked out here all come from a textiles for fashion background.  There were so many ideas that felt original and technically challenging.  Photo close-ups and details could therefore compromise a student's original vision.  I am 100% behind protecting students' work from being leached out and appropriated by the wrong people and so it is that I bring you this round-up of Central Saint Martins MA 2013 graduates with a little bit of trepidation.  

All the students were very obliging in allowing me to post their work and I've refrained from posting any samples of work that haven't been fully executed yet into silhouettes.  I'm torn in two directions, obviously wanting to showcase the best of these students' work, promoting their ideas and fruits of labour but without stepping on anyone's toes, especially at this early stage in their careers.  For me, straight-on catwalk pictures only tell (literally) one side of the story, hence why I endeavour to seek out the other facets of their work but there's a line of balance in overexposure, to be tred around delicately.  Hopefully I haven't overstepped my mark.  I will also be delving into the work of some of the MA students who didn't make it to the show, which equally deserve a bit of spotlighting.      

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Elena Crehan – The fuzzy textures of Elena Crehan's gender-ambiguous jumpers instantly grabbed you on a visual level, not least because they were deceptive in their appearance as knitwear.  Crehan wanted to experiment with the idea of lace in outerwear and looked at textures such as grass growing through football nets to mimic when experimenting with her intricate lacework, which had fur sprouting out in an unexpectedly sensual way.  Rugby shirts and Innuit children in oversized jumpers informed the simple silhouettes, which let the boldly tactile textures do all the talking.  Crehan invites wearers and onlookers to touch and feel, which means pictures are always going to be a bit of a poor subsitute.  Having seen some of her range of swatches and samples, it's clear Crehan has an arsenal of techniques to call upon, so that hopefully she can build on top of these intriguing surfaces.  

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Eilish Mackintosh – It's natural that the L'Oreal Prize winner at the Central Saint Martins show gets a fair amount of attention but Eilish Mackintosh confounded audiences initially by presenting not one but two collections.  The link between them was blatantly clear as her Araki-esque knotted rope body accoutrements and ceramic cast pieces seen in her first collection progressed into a form of construction in her second, emulating exaggerated stitches in leather sports equipment.  It's interesting that she was disciplined enough to develop both collections in a thorough way, and that Louise Wilson felt it necessary to show both as a way of presenting a journey.  The second collection with its patent shells stitched through boldly with what appears to be giant shoelaces does have a more resolved coherence to it and innovatively centres the rope material as the focal textile as opposed to a sideline trimming or accessory.       

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Jaimee McKenna- The sole knitwear collection selected to show belonged to Jaimee McKenna who dipped her entire collection in a saturated shade of Yves Klein blue.  The decision to use that one emphatic shade was guided by the intricate pleated knit fabrics, which make up this vaguely ecclesiastical and stately collection.  A 1950s Vogue image of an elaborate pleated skirt planted the seeds for McKenna's pleating, which was then stiffened with felting to create the stiff pleats and concertina folds, held by metal bars.  The combination of traditional lambswool ribbed fabric and the structural elements create a sense of ease and fluidity.  The pieces don't feel weighed down by their complex construction and in that unmistakable hue of blue, there's an elegance that feel fresh.  

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Marie Ryland - The subtleties of Marie Ryland's collection really needed an in-person viewing to take in the cultural mix, which she has woven from the loom herself.  Her quiet collection of tunics were a controlled mix of different cultural strands – Middle Eastern embellishment, religious garments, Norwegian folkloric textiles, glitched-up abstract art – which together feels rich and satisfying to see.  Her technical patterns are first created on Photoshop and then woven up, sometimes with experimental accidents that can turn out for the best.  Disregarding gender or rigorous silhouette, we have garments that tell a tale through the different types of yarns and the incidental appearance of a pattern or a slight differentiation in texture.  It makes for serene viewing.

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Sadie Williams – Disco Darleks (coined by Alex Fury of Love Magazine)?  Quality Street gowns?  Whatever they were, Sadie Williams' metallic flash of brilliance were for me, one of the show's highlights.  The inspiration was neither Dr. Who or chocolate related.  Instead Williams looked at old fashioned motor bike attire, and in particularly the photographs of Masuyuki Yoshinaga of showy Japanese biker gangs, which informed the crisp graphic quality of her metallic ensembles.  The real innovation behind her rigid floor-length dresses, nodding to the straight lines of both Cardin and Courreges, was the fabric development.  A jumbo lurex was bonded to a loop-back tracksuit, elimnating the need for lining and giving it its stiff quality, with the graphic shapes created by sandwiching cut pieces of neoprene in between.  Heat transfer paper or digitally printed inks were then applied on top for the print element.  It's a multi-step and layered process, which looks deceptively simple, part and parcel of the genius behind the collection.  

In addition to textiles wizardry, Williams has other skills up her sleeve as she, together with her brother Joe, has also created animations for the likes of HIllier London, Marc by Marc Jacobs and Topshop.  Who knows where this or her sublime fabrics will take her next but it's sure to be somewhere sparkly.  

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'Bosozoku'-book-Japanese-bikers

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'Motorcycle-Jackets'-book-satin-vests

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Racers-in-satin-vests

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Valentino-Gowns---full-length,-dropped-waist

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Comments (15)

  1. VVHATIF says:

    very inspiring designs and creative process. makes me wanna get my hands on more creative work too.

  2. Orla says:

    So inspring, I especially love Sadie William’s and Jaimee McKenna’s collections, I hope to be involved in such amazing talent and visual amazing ness one day!
    http://www.thecoolcustomer.wordpress.com
    xxx

  3. I love how much rawer students’ work is. Not as wearable as the items we see on catwalks now but beautiful and inspiring in its own way. x

  4. Wow. Amazingly inspirational Thanks. That last one really made me suck my breath in.

  5. milex says:

    Fianlly some mens pieces! I would wear everything from Elena Crehan
    http://milexblog.blogspot.co.uk

  6. Head over heels for Eilish Mackintosh. I’m starting MA Fashion at CSM next year (although the journalism pathway) but super excited to hopefully get to see the designs from start to finish.
    It’s a LDN Thing

  7. cecile says:

    WOW! Love the Eilish Mackintosh collection. Holly crow… I am obsessed.
    Cecile

  8. The Provoker says:

    I’m so glad you did this post Susie, I actually witnessed (along with a few mates) secretly an MA crit by Louise of these pieces, she was yelling like crazy, but that’s a story for the future lol. Love these inspiration images they did, I realize an MA drawing/sketchbook/research is actually so different from the BA, the process itself is a whole different level, so it’s great to see where the ideas originated from and how each designer gravitated towards a certain CSM MA aesthetic mixed with their own.

  9. riris says:

    it’s super cool.!!!!
    ristlicious.blogspot.com

  10. moi says:

    I am very sorry about this fox :(

  11. qwrqw@rw.ee says:

    ass

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