“Here it comes, the unavoidable sun”, boomed the lyrics featured on the soundtrack to the MA show last night, and some that held particular resonance for the class of 2014. With an array of new textural juxtapositions, impossible botanical silhouettes and painstaking embroidery, the latest designers delivered that message with brave accuracy. Here is what’s next. Here is what’s unavoidable, and it’s ready for you all right now.
Perhaps in the past, the nostalgic memories of Charing Cross Road had fogged the runway a little, but of the eleven designers on show, all felt genuinely innovative and demonstrated that here was a group of students who had passed through an art school fit for the 21st century.
First up was womenswear designer Teruhiro Hasegawa with a monochrome collection of floor length gowns, complete with the odd splash of red as a scarlet stocking or glove darted out from beneath surface. Reams of chiffon, held in place by pleated leather or accentuated peplum, billowed behind, aiding in the superhero-like status of the models. The effect was dramatic, and had us aching to know more about the women behind the masks.
Next was Drew Henry who had banished sunset coloured furs of BA past and contemporized them as army cowgirl. Cappuccino hued animal hides peeped out from sophisticated khaki jackets and navy tailoring. There was a make-do and mend vibe, as if Henry’s woman had skinned the animal herself and patched it in with her attire to get by. It did however feel luxe and effortless, a feat achieved by immaculate finishing and attention to some finer detailing.
Tweed was updated by Graham Fan, whose collection had the appearance of woven cassette tape – giving the illusion of wet moonlit cobbles and stiff knitwear. There was a trip down memory lane too, with some throwback references to Elizabethan ruffs and collars, concealing the body in hessian-like armour. Yet the collection didn’t feel restrictive, and moved with ease thanks to some of those looser finishings.
Fan’s work was unraveled at the hands of Jessica Mort, with degraded striped rugby collared vests, whose threads had literally come lose at the seams, tickling the ground as the men moved. Block coloured flares threw out some of those aforementioned threads and concealed the foot, creating the illusion of towering sportsmen of some bygone era.
Anita Hirlekar’s tarred and feathered woman wouldn’t have felt out of place amongst the brushstrokes of van Gogh. Those knitted scribbles were interrupted with strategic sheer paneling, which broke up the woven textile and added the occasional suggestion of something below the surface. Amongst the incredibly created pieces were tiny pieces of reflective mirror, which winked out to the audience under the runway lights.
There was something Craig-Green like in Nayuko Yamamoto’s work, without it feeling like imitation. Alternate looks had solid, felt covered structures which masked loose silk printed fabrics that undulated with the march of the models. Strip away those showpieces and there were some fantastically cut metallic separates, which felt effortlessly contemporary and completely wearable.
Fiona Blakeman’s woman had survived combat, but not without some severe battle scars. Her floor length black jersey dresses had been torn to shreds, revealing fish net and skin beneath. Further fragility was added in smaller details such as the shoulder seams, delicately slashed to allude to some previous sinister struggle. A strength was found amongst that sense of survival and the collection had an identifiable sexiness to it thanks to those splashes of skin.
Rory Parnell-Mooney’s menswear was part perverse milk maid and part friar tuck. Low peaked bonnets restricted vision and cast an ominous shadow over the models brow, whilst light duck egg blue bibs and scarves sat against milky skin. Layers of structured pieces in black and navy felt bisht-like in appearance and hinted at religious dress.
Serena Gili resurrected those hard acrylic skirts that had everyone a flutter back in 2012, but this time they were shorter and in blacks and nudes. Incredible bead work over net like structures hung loosely over these, with additions of fur and loose thread used as harsh contrast. There was also a great moment found, where over the runway’s soundtrack, the clunking of hundreds of those beads could be heard, slamming against those hard skirts as they bounced to and fro, and those stray threads rippling over them alongside.
L’oréal Professionnel first prize award winner Ondrej Adamek treated us to some breathtaking silhouettes which were floral like in appearance, and whose scale masked parts of the face and shoulder. The effect was graphic and volumous, like giant, intricately crafted serviettes that would have sat well on a fashionable tabletop.
Closing the show was Michael Power, who scooped second prize with his tetris-like collection. Geometric beaded embroidered adorned layered black sheer separates and elongated sleeves hid the models hands. Cylindrical black wraps housed the feet whilst tiki masks gave the impression of some futuristic warrior.
“Excruciatingly painful”, were the words chosen to express the difficulty of selecting this year’s winners, helped along by alumni Christopher Kane. If there was one thing that was certain this year, it was that all these designers were indeed fighters and that they had come out victorious. Fitting I suppose, considering the delicate climate that they all are graduating into. Congratulations class of 2014. We salute you!
Text: Greg French
All images courtesy of 1 Granary