Royal College of Art graduate fashion show 2011
You’d think the prospect of having to live up to past alumni the likes of Christopher Bailey, Julien Macdonald and Erdem Moralioglu would be enough to leave any RCA fashion student quaking in their boots, but the final collections from the 36 graduating younglings showed no sign of creative fatigue. Rather, a confident and focused student crew ruled the runway at yesterday's show, with the idea of strong power ladies emerging in womenswear and new directional cuts explored in menswear.
'The students this year are really diverse, they're all so very different', says the college's Head of Fashion professor Wendy Dagworthy. 'Coming down the runway is every fabric from bold industrial materials like rubber, to softer silks and fluid draping.' Dagworthy hones in on Sayaka Kamakura's collection - a skillful application of strong drapey shapes in a floor-sweeping cloud of black, orange and white and Nicola Morgan, whose superb jersey dresses again had 'that dynamic powerful feeling' in the way they created a new drape structure over the body. While Ruth Green's knitwear pieces nicely rounded off this feeling of new dynamism.
Over in menswear, there was further experimentation with materials, with students like Fah Chakshuvej subverting the notion of traditional fabrics with modern cutting techniques.
Off the runway, fashion writer Iain R Webb curated a rousing exhibition of designs by established and emerging RCA graduate greats, with loaned items from fashion alumni such as Bailey, Macdonald, Katie Eary, Boudicca and Zara Gorman, displayed, as Webb describes, 'with an intentional art school vibe'. Here's hoping this is only the start and plenty more similar shows led by Webb's discerning eye and laid-back 'pop-up' style are in the pipeline.
Also unmissable, was RCA's fourth collaboration with Brioni, which once again saw the work of first year menswear students who had brilliantly designed some rather lovely contemporary men's tailored coats, and the return of the Esprit RCA Ltd Edition capsule collection, that combined the work of three womenswear graduating students.