Serving up Barbie doll realness

Every year, hundreds of hungry young fashion students work tirelessly on debut collections, miraculously throw a show together and bring fresh eyes to an industry dominated by legends. We’ve got our eye on five new womenswear designers who will be showcasing their work at Graduate Fashion Week, an event that brings together the best and brightest BA talent specialising in all things sartorial.

The graduate showcase is supported by the likes of , Victoria Beckham, Christopher Bailey and Nick Knight. Running from 4-7 June in Shoreditch’s Old Truman Brewery, you can see these ladies’ works in person by booking tickets to the show.

Kate Clark

University: Kingston

In this collection, Kate Clark focuses on the feelings of leaving childhood behind and entering into a ‘grown up’ world that seems to be crumbling around us. Clark explores the idea of an over exaggerated child’s notion of the ideal Princess dress. This is the dress the child will not take off. Why would she? As Clark says, ‘With the world falling apart around me I felt a return to something I know and loved to be the only way to cope.’

Her work is infused with memories both happy and sad. Clark maintains, ‘The clothes are embroidered with the toys we used to play with as children and a beloved dog who died. My work is very personal and always has a big helping of fantasy. I’ve never been too fond of the real world.’

Frankie Dean

University: Edinburgh College of Art

Frankie Dean’s collection investigates human muscle tone and the lines travel around the body. She explores the transition between two-dimensional drawn line into the three-dimensional one. Dean experiments with lines that sculpt ‘around’ and ‘away’ from the human form. Her keen observation of movement and structure in silhouette has allowed Dean to create a unique canvas upon which to accentuate and distort lines as they travel over the body.

Dean’s use of textiles emphasizes the complex system of lines and textures on the body. Her attention to detail and innovative application of printed elastic on to mesh provides a distinctive and unforgettable ‘third dimension’ to her designs whilst, her layering technique creates a sculptured look to her work.

Sophie Hampson

University: Ravensbourne

Sophie Hampson’s collection ‘Returning from the Underworld’ is inspired by a traditional masquerade festival in South Africa, in which she looked at both traditional and contemporary African ceremonies. The unique, handmade clothing used during the ceremonies inspires Hampson and her work celebrates the personalised textures and details used within their parades.

In addition, Hampson has been influenced by her research into the carnival culture of south west Germany. She is fascinated by the notion of mythical characters being released through clothing. In addition, her collection seeks to ‘capture’ the unique atmosphere portrayed in photographs from Phyllis Galembo’s book ‘Maske’ coupled with Joan Miro’s carnival style Dadaistic collages of asymmetric designs.

Hampson’s collection with its details, textures, silhouettes and use of colours creates a dark miscellany of ‘terrifying characters’ that is simply unique.

Alicja Teper

University: Southampton Solent

Alicja Teper’s collection is named ‘Catharsis’- the Greek concept of purification of emotions and fear though art. In addition, she is inspired by Erich Fromm’s ‘The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness’ in which he describes different types of violence and destructiveness. Within her work there is an underlying sense of tension, fear and distorted reality. Teper maintains this unease may reflect the anxiety caused by being brought up in a dysfunctional family.

Teper is also inspired by the brutalist architecture of her native Poland. Her work has echoes of totalitarian terror, intense cold and intimidation. The ‘Catharsis’ collection is not limited to one specific context. It references all systems of repression, oppression and manipulation. It applies as much to the domestic as it does the political.

Maddie Williams

University: Edinburgh College of Art

The narrative of Williams’s collection imagines a group of six Goddess-type figures who remain pure and unhindered by the constraints of advertising and corporate power. They dress to celebrate their bodies in a way that they dictate. Maddie Williams’s collection celebrates feminine strength – she questions why women should conform, for example when they broaden their shoulders in order to appear strong. Williams’s ‘Goddesses’ seek to return the world to a more holistic way of living. The organic styling of the collection reflects an ideal of living in harmony with the Earth. It also seeks to ‘rebalance’ feminine energy with the masculine.

William’s visual signature as a designer is very distinctive. She employs highly structured, exaggerated silhouettes and the clothes are often made with textural, innovative, and often recycled textiles. The collection is made of reclaimed or renewable materials such as unwanted Royal Mail plastic sacks and being hand crafted or embellished wherever possible, renews these ‘old’ textiles. Plant-dyed British wool also features heavily to create Williams’s work.

Over 60 universities will be in Graduate Fashion Week’s 22 shows, spread out across the four day event. This year, 26 awards will be given out to the most striking students in different categories as diverse as celebrity gowns and fashion photography.

Good luck to everyone involved!

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