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‘I Am…’ Fashion from the University of Kent Graduates
June 25, 2013
The Turner Contemporary Art gallery is famous for housing such names as Tracey Emin and Leonardo Da Vinci inside its walls, and now we will know it as the venue for the very successful ‘I Am…’ fashion show, showcasing the works of The University of Kent’s 2013 BA Fashion and Textiles graduates.
After fund-raising through sponsored walks and craft fairs the passionate and driven students secured the iconic venue and it certainly paid off. With a floor level catwalk and stark white walls, the building gave power to show, with the large sea facing windows giving it an empowering backdrop. With a t-shaped catwalk each model presented themselves to the entire audience directly producing an extremely intimate experience. Each collection was accompanied by a personally selected track by the individual designers, all chiming on time with the entrance of the models and tying well with the theme of the collections.
‘Hidden Presences’ was among the collections and particularly stood out with its striking images in a simple figure hugging form. Designer Charlotte Kings describes her collection as “very mood orientated”, explaining that her collection has “an element of nyctophilia, which means love of darkness or the night. My collection is about the beautifully haunting power and fierceness of dreams and the imagination”. This concept is very noticeable in the viewing of her collection, with the slick shaping of the garments crossed with the harsh but colourful prints viewers are forced into some kind of ‘bright nightmare’; something beautiful but completely terrifying. The collection echoes elements of the night, the unconscious, shadows and apparitions. Kings explains that her intention is to convey “beauty in dark contexts” and that it sure does.
Another outstanding collection came from menswear designer Mary Weir, whose collection ‘Beauty and the Beast’- as hinted at by the title – is based on fairy tales and initially took great inspiration from the stories of The Brothers Grimm and Disney classics. Weir reveals that she became interested in Beauty and the Beast, with “the reason being was the contrast… finding beauty in a beast and vice versa”. Her designs are therefore contrast focused; beastly mixed with beautiful, harsh mixed with soft, classical with edgy. Weir pulls together classic forms, shapes and patterns with edgy futuristic designs, as can be seen within her men’s t-shirt range, where traditional garments shapes and beautiful relaxing colours collide, with a sharp and energetic image upon them. Brush strokes upon the designs even force a serene feel but somehow the overall clash incorporates the contrast and therefore creates the successful ‘Beauty and the Beast’ feeling.
A particularly grabbing and provocative collection came in the form of ‘Screw You’ by Emma Kathlyn [Everest]. The cleverly named collection immediately strikes at the feeling of rebellion upon viewing, or even just hearing the name, with its obscene and quite daring prints becoming the focus of attention. ‘Screw You’ blends simple and ‘smart’ items such as a pencil skirt, traditionally worn in the workplace, with these (usually) shocking and insulting images/designs to create an all round socially thwarting collection. Images include the ‘middle finger’ gesture and graffiti, clashing with not only the garment shapes but also elements such as the pretty and bright colours and the words ‘quiet please’ covering some of the items’ obscene elements. Key garments included an oversized t shirt dress and pencil skirt covered with graffiti and/or the ‘middle finger’ gesture and a real leather bomber with badge detail and title covered back – simple upon initial glance, followed by the ‘rebellion’ in the words. All round a thought-provoking, edgy and cleverly put together collection.
Another designer, Jessica Bosacki, focused on architecture and hyper real photography as a means of inspiration for her collection. Bosacki’s ‘Perbeck Revival’ uses influences from the marble stone of gothic cathedrals to not only determine the name of her work, but also the colour palette of the entire collection. Bosacki explained that she is “particularly interested in the unique textures of fabrics”, she even “fused fabrics together to create more depth and interesting textures”, much like that of the architecture she has been influenced by. “I have revived the archaic content of my inspiration with modern pattern cutting” she reveals, “the mood of my concept is subtle, with an edge of something more sinister”.
All of the collections incorporated an array of materials, forms and figures, all working perfectly for each garment and displaying the fact that these designers know their stuff. They all stood out for their own reasons, with the entire show becoming a whirlwind of talent knocking each viewer off their seats. The fashion show ended with a deafening applause and rightly so. A very explosive and entertaining show, of professional standard.
The full collections can be viewed here.