After a delicious, calorie-laden lunch at Byron we headed over to the exhibition. The various universities had stands set out displaying their collections and lookbooks. The innovation and talent were evident and inspiring.
The gala show was just breathtaking. Here are a few of my favourite picks:
Lauren Dutton’s (UCA Rochester) sporty collection was how I wish my school uniform had looked.
Juliena Siqueira’s (Istituto Marangoni) colourful kilts really lifted her monochrome formal menswear collection.
Josephine Pettman (Ravensbourne) showed a bright, punky collection. I particularly loved the jacket covered in badges.
Hannah Williams (UCA Epsom) has been widely touted as ‘the one to watch’, and on the strength of this offering I have to agree. Her painstakingly embossed, pastel collection was crafted entirely of latex. The result was a slick, achingly modern collection which could well be Celine’s heir to the minimalist throne. No surprise then that she took away both the Womenswear and Innovation awards.
From one award winner to another, Kirandeep Bassan’s bold collection took home the Zandra Rhodes Textile Award, and deservedly so. I loved the gorgeous colour clashes and oriental shapes – so vibrant.
Patricia Williams (Ravensbourne) showed clean lines, sharp pleating and a daisy-fresh palette of yellow and white. Simple and very effective.
Lauren Smith’s (Edinburgh College of Art) print and applique collection took home the George Gold Award and a £20,000 prize. This collection was full of contradictions; leather and tulle, sharp yet fluid, bold yet ethereal. The judges called it an emotional collection, and I absolutely loved it.
Adam Jones (Manchester School of Art) showed a grunge-influenced womenswear collection. I loved the biker jackets and textured knitwear but, as much as I like a touch of whimsy in my outfits, I don’t think I’d be brave enough to wear the ‘Pussy’ skirt.
The last collection in the show was also my favourite. Nicolas Wirth’s (Istituto Marangoni) dark, romantic eveningwear collection was so, so beautiful and eminently wearable. The simple dresses really stood out in a sea of attention-grabbing designs.
It was a fanastic day and I’d like to say a huge thank you to Next for having me. Former winners at the awards include Stella McCartney, Christopher Bailey and Matthew Williamson, so it’s very exciting to think that I may have just seen the start of some very big careers!
And to the naysayers who think fashion is cyclical and unoriginal – keep your eye on this lot, I think they have a lot to teach us!
P.S. In all the excitement I completely failed to get a photo of my outfit, but I wore this fabulous Zebra skirt with a simple grey tee and a black blazer, and I loved it!