We take a look at some of the most successful Graduate Fashion Week alumni
It’s hard to believe Graduate Fashion Week has been bringing us the best new design talent for 25 years. In 1991 an unknown Christopher Bailey took home first prize and the show has gone on to produce some of the world’s top designers ever since. Now Christopher will join Victoria Beckham as one of GFW’s first official patrons.
As students across the country prepare to showcase their work this weekend, we look back at some of the event’s most successful fashion graduates…
Burberry Creative Director
Yorkshire born Christopher worked for Donna Karan and Gucci before being appointed Design Director at Burberry in 2001. Since winning Gold at the first ever Graduate Fashion Week, he’s won the British Fashion Awards ‘Menswear Designer of the Year’ three times and received an MBE in the 2009 Queen’s birthday honours list, among many other accolades. In October 2013 he was named CEO of Burberry and has transformed the British fashion house to one of the biggest luxury brands in the world.
Clare Waight Keller
Chloé Creative Director
Clare graduated from Ravensbourne College of Art with a BA degree in Fashion, before completing an MA in Knitwear at London’s Royal College of Art. At 21-years-old she landed her first job designing for Calvin Klein in New York, followed by Ralph Lauren and Gucci. She joined Pringle of Scotland for five years before being named Creative Director of Chloé in May 2011. Known for her traditional femininity fused with masculine influences, she has redefined the free-spirited, effortless Chloé girl.
Angela Woods, Head of Fashion at Ravensbourne College of Design & Communication (1985-1997) says: ‘Clare was quiet, hard working and EXTREMELY focused. She was in a fantastically talented year group at Ravensbourne and yet she really held her own. I knew that if anyone was going to ‘make it’ she was. She went onto the RCA and as they say… the rest is history!’
Sophie Hulme Creative Director
Sophie graduated from Kingston University’s fashion course in 2007 as Student of the Year. After receiving a huge amount of interest in her graduate collection she launched her eponymous label just one month later. Her military style handbag range has earned her critical acclaim, selling out all over the world.
‘I originally wanted to be a fine artist as I always loved drawing and painting’ she says. ‘I decided to do my degree in fashion and I think it really suited me, but prior to university it wasn’t something I would ever go for. I had this perception that everyone was both terrifying and fabulous all the time. I think people end up having brands for two different reasons; you either want that idea of shows, media and having a brand or because you really love the product and the design process. I am more of the latter. I think my brand came out of the fact that I wanted to develop a certain type of product that hadn’t yet existed.’
Elinor Renfrew, Head of Fashion at Kingston University says: ‘From the beginning of her BA Fashion course at Kingston Sophie was referencing work wear and military uniforms, which have now become her signature style. Her attention to detail was exceptional and she always designed total looks which has led to her successful bag line and charms. Sophie was offered a job at Marc Jacobs, however Selfridges bought her graduate collection and that was the start of her own label.’
Holly Fulton Creative Director
Edinburgh College of Art and RCA alumni Holly Fulton was approached by Alber Elbaz to join the Lanvin design team in Paris during her masters degree. The Scottish designer then established her eponymous label in 2009 and is known for her loud pop art prints and eclectic choice of materials.
Hill & Friends Creative Director
Once the acclaimed Creative Director of Mulberry, Emma was the driving force behind the rise of the brand and the creation of the iconic Alexa and Bayswater bags. Since graduating from Ravensbourne in 1992 she’s had stints at Marc Jacobs and Chloé and announced the launch of her own accessories line Hill & Friends in June 2015.
Angela Woods, Head of Fashion at Ravensbourne College of Design & Communication (1985-1997) says: ‘Emma was talented, charming and positive throughout her three years at Ravensbourne. She worked her socks off and consequently really stood out within her year group. I always ‘put my money’ on her being a big success and thankfully I was right!
Artistic Director of Victorinox
Another graduate from the prestigious Royal College of Art, Christopher set up his own studio in 2008, showcasing his own collection at London Design Week just months later. His brand now has over 60 stockists worldwide and he’s brought sustainable fashion to a mainstream audience including coverage in US Vogue.
‘I’ve always been grateful for the solid foundation and all-round focused education I was able to achieve through my degree and then MA at the Royal College of Art,’ he says. ‘It was during my BA in Fashion Design that I first started to work on Remade garments which then led onto the business that I’ve been able to grow some 15 years later.’
Graduate Fashion Week 2016 will take place from 5th-8th June. To puchase tickets visit eventbrite.co.uk/o/graduate-fashion-week-2903083321