Sep 26, 2019 | By Jane Boddy
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Feb 22, 2018
By Anna Ross
The Central Saint Martins MA course is undoubtedly the most prolific for producing for emerging fashion talent in the UK. With a star-studded alumni from McQueen to more recently, Richard Quinn – who, this week, was awarded the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design.
Each season our Catwalk Team’s Anna Ross is at the show- on the lookout for the best of their emerging talent. First up, we chat to winners of the prestigious L’Oréal Professional award; Olaf Tavares Vieira and Rebecca Jeffs.
Describing her course as “full on”, Womenswear student Rebecca Jeffs worked within the couture teams of Margiela, Dior and McQueen before producing her final collection. “It’s an exploration of the semiotics of the “feminine””, explained Jeffs, who’s experimental collection lent gender roles to material objects such as hair clips, shells and fishnet stockings. Of note was Jeff’s impeccable tailoring; a salmon-pink suit edged with whisps of marabou feathers was one of the finest pieces of tailoring we’ve seen for a while.
Olaf takes a holistic approach to his design ethos, using natural fibre across the collection to explore the westernized body, focusing on “Hara and Utilitarism” as focal points. ‘The knees bend, the belly goes out and the shoulders are dropped,’ said Olaf, referring to Hara – in which this pose implies total relaxation. One could see this in the designers softly sculpted silhouettes, which came pinned and tucked, secured with subtle hardware. Knitwear, in collaboration with Sam Barthy, looked richly textural in shades of rust or forest green. The future for Olaf looks bright, the designer dreaming of having his own label and ‘creating a world which excites [him]’.
Eleanor McDonald has a keen eye for observation, basing her MA collection on how clothes are worn day-to-day by collecting old photographs; “Proportions are very interesting to me – I love how a hand-me-down can be too large, creating volume around the shoulders. Or when too tight clothes create points of tension forming organic distortion,” explained the designer, who’s exquisitely cut tailoring caught our eye with it’s unusual balance of cropped and elongated shapes. McDonald focuses on longevity of product, designing timless clothes which can be worn by both genders. McDonald reflects on her time at CSM fondly, noting how taking some time out of her MA in 2014 allowed her time to reflect on her work, “It was the best decision I ever made,” said McDonald.
“My starting point for the collection came from two perspectives – our society’s growing need to consume and the homogenous culture that mass production is creating,” said Textiles student Moon Hussain, who’s collection took on the notion of uniformity with a literal approach. Hussain took functional garments, from lab-coats to shirts, using the same pattern block for each look, and altered the materials to create a bespoke uniform. The result was an intrinsic and covetable line-up, each piece as wearable as the next. With industry placements from Céline to Mulberry under her belt – we see bright things for Hussain.
Sister-act Laura and Deanna Fanning joined forces for their MA, with individual backgrounds in both womenswear and knit. Using a combination of fully fashioned knit and cut-and-sew piecing, the sisters sent forth a line up bursting with colour and a whirlwind of other-worldly form. ‘We were watching Italian space age films from the 60’s‘ they explained, while also touching on sportswear as key to their approach. ‘We hope to still be working together and creating collections together in the future,’ said the pair – we hope they are too!
Lastly, we asked the designers what their advice would be to young hopefuls, wishing to pursue their fashion career:
Hussain: ‘Don’t be afraid to challenge the industry’s conventions.’
Jeffs: ‘Aspire to find your own individuality – have confidence in this!’
The Fannings: ‘Hard work pays off- get as much experience in the industry as possible’.
Want to hear more about new talent? Follow our Editor Anna Ross.
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