Pre-press show, we spoke about how change has been a definite keyword in fashion education the past twelve months. This year’s graduates ensured everybody that change will simply not stop, but rather continue stronger than ever. Last night, they staged a peaceful protest in front of the college after the press show — which we livestreamed here on 1 Granary — that finished around 8:30 PM.

Donning the name #encorecsm, the collective students wrote the following manifesto:

“Congratulating our 40 friends on the Press Show, we have come together to organise a student-run showcase of our work to represent the other 100+ students who were unable to show their work to the press. Our aim is for equal representation in support of current and future students on the BA Fashion Pathway. This is a positive message for students not to be discouraged with the university selection process, and a way for the public to see the diversity, hard work and talent of the whole year group together.”

When asked about the initiative, one student remarked: “Everyone through the whole year worked so hard to create a collection that could express their personality and beliefs. During this time, everyone has hopes that they will be considered as a part of the press show, because everyone’s work is equally precious and cared for.” The press show features the designs of 40 selected students from across the print, knitwear, Fashion Design with Marketing, menswear and womenswear pathways, and it has not occurred — at least not in recent history — that the students’ work is shown collectively off-runway. “Everyone thought that the existence of a specific selection of students that separates our school was unfair. This disappointment motivated us to create a positive event that would unite us and could give everyone a chance to express their different aesthetics. Our aim was not to be confrontational or offensive to our friends in the press show. We were looking at a display of diversity and creativity that represents the spirit of an art school. It was a moment of solidarity for every student.”

She mentioned that in a world where the fashion is an industry involved in a school environment, they had to come up with an event that was free of boundaries and permitted the students to showcase their creations without restriction and without any commercial viability. “Also, disappointment of students is caused by the popularity of the industry and there is obviously not enough space for all of us. But, this is a problem that needs to be discussed through a different platform.”

The initiative was only started on the 30th of May, roughly 4 days before the press show. Biggest challenge? Finding models for more than a hundred students. Even though it was intended to remain mostly secret, after the word came out, all the tutors were very supportive. Willie Walters— head of Fashion— allegedly would even like to consider doing this every year. It shows that when joining forces, it is actually possible to change the somewhat conservative mindset that still rules parts of creative institutions. Throughout history, it’s always seen that ‘It’s always been like this,’ is an absolute catalyst for, ‘well, let’s shake things up then.’

Similarly, on the runway of the press show inside the college walls, Camilla Holmes, an FDM student, closed her collection with a cape-like canvas with the words “Respect our existence or expect our resistance.” It seems to sum up the underlying spirit that’s present in this year’s graduates. As a wind of dissatisfaction with the state of things (the pace, the demands, the oversaturation) seems to float through the industry and spark debates across live panels, interviews and in friendly conversation, we can only wish for next year’s graduates to throw some oil on the fire and heat up the discussion even more. After all, a new flame has been ignited as of last night.

To conclude: a big congratulations to all the students for nailing it big time this year. And, a special round of applause to the winners of the press show: Jim Chen Hstang Hu won the L’Oreal Young Talent Award, while Martin Hanly was the first running-up for Womenswear, and Pierre Campo was the second runner-up for menswear. With this academic year drawing to a close, the torch has been carried over; who will change the fashion industry in the next twelve months ahead?

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Backstage photography + text by Jorinde Croese

Photography by Aidan Zamiri
Photography by Roman Sheppard Dawson

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