Middlesex University: 2017 Graduates on Fashion, Gender and Politics

At WGSN, we’re always on the lookout for what’s next – particularly within the realm of fashion.  June 2017 has brought a new wave of graduates, and this month, we’ve been looking at the emerging talent from fashion schools. We reported on RCA and CSM here, and now the spotlight is on Middlesex University, and their show, which took place in Soho’s Vinyl Factory.

In addition to the show, there was an industry panel including Schön! Magazine’s Fashion Editor Patrick Clarke and designer Louise Gray who carefully selected the contributors, showcasing the very best offerings from Middlesex’s Fashion Design and Fashion Textiles collections.

To keep you in the loop on emerging talent, we’re reporting back on our absolute highlights from the show – and who we’re ready to get excited about.


  1. Emily Witham


Emily Witham

Inspiration for Emily Witham‘s collection stemmed from an old picture of her great-grandfather and his brother as children dressed in frilly dresses. It kickstarted a fascination and exploration of the concepts of gender and gendered dress, something she’s really explored within her degree (and very on trend right now, as we’ve explored with the shift in meaning behind the colour pink). Emily has developed a style she describes as ‘feminist menswear’ by taking ‘traditionally masculine’ fabrications and silhouettes and combining them with ‘traditionally feminine’ detailing and symbolisms.

Witham is unafraid to play with gender norms, producing a topical and timely collection that has got us really excited to see what she does next.

2. Kathryn Casey-Burnett


Kathryn Casey-Burnett

Teeside-raised Kathryn Casey-Burnett has used ‘the body’ as a frequent starting point throughout her studies, inspired by what she describes as the ‘physical structure of the form and also of social identity.’

Her final collection presented at the showcase is based on cells, exploring the juxtaposition of entrapment and freedom by portraying insider structures to the outside viewer. The overall effect? The garments almost become an extension of the inside body. Casey-Burnett is certainly one to watch as she goes on to pursue an MA in womenswear.

3. Chelsey Murray

Chelsey Murray

Another politically-driven collection, Chelsey Murray drew inspiration from discontent and disillusionment with political crises and instability.

Highlighting Raf Simon’s 2002 collection as inspiration, Murray has worked to create what she calls ‘a uniform for the revolution.’ We love the use of different textiles and materials to produce a new take on the traditional camo print.

You can follow Chelsey here.


4. Gaia Waters.


Gaia Waters

The impact of American politics has certainly been felt within creative industries over the last year, as artists and designers seek an outlet for their discontent.

Gaia Waters believes that US current affairs has created a real life dystopia of the “American Dream”, something that she reflects in her collection – functional sportswear influenced by American workwear brands such as Patagonia, Levi and Carhartt.

We loved that Gaia’s fabrics were all sourced sustainably –  providing a considered, ethical approach to streetwear.


5. Corinne Priestman


Corinne Priestman has got us nostalgic for playing dress-up with a collection inspired by children and the carefree, messy nature of childhood.  Priestman was particularly inspired by hand-me-downs – loose fitting and oversized clothes that you ‘grow into’.

Although ‘childish’ in inspiration, Corinne’s designs feel sophisticated and we’re already drawing parallels with designers and houses who have a strong focus on textile arts and handicraft such as Asai and Roberta Einer.

Either way, Corinne’s collection has got us reflecting back on childhood vibes but looking forward to what she tries her hand at next.


6. Sebastian Röck


Sebastian Röck is already making waves in menswear before his career has really even begun, making it onto the 2017 FAD finals list at London Fashion Week.

His collection combines a multitude of different prints and texture with typically traditional feminine cuts. Röck provides a refreshing shake-up of fashion’s gender norms – and the industry is definitely paying attention.

Find out more about the graduates and the courses offered at Middlesex University London here.

Like this author? Follow her here @alicegividen

Still not got your fashion grad fix? Check out our review of the Central Saint Martins graduates here.

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