“You clothe me, syllable by syllable. My definition, by definition, temporary,” sounded as the first models walked into the room at the Royal College of Art’s MA Fashion graduate show: Zowie Broach and the grads are speaking the new language that’s being formed in London fashion education. Her first year as the college’s Head of Fashion sure has been a remarkable one, and it came to an apt manifestation as 36 graduate collections were shown last night. Simultaneously, an exhibition was hosted in the gallery space of the college, where the work of footwear, accessories, and millinery graduates was presented alongside a display of the school’s collaborations with the industry, including ’70 years of RCA x Brioni’.
When it came down to the runway: spectacle. One could expect no less from the founder of the highly conceptual fashion house Boudicca. Although Zowie might be rightly credited for being the mastermind behind the course’s transformation, the real strength perhaps lies in her essentially supportive role; giving the students all the freedom to discuss and collaborate to find out what works best for them as individuals and as a collective. She’s there, behind-the-scenes, facilitating and pushing them to find ways to make happen whatever they believe in. Moving on, it would be wrong not to mention how captivating the format was. Losing attention after 30 minutes of being entertained tirelessly? No worries: why not have a fifteen-minute break to recover from overwhelmed senses and catch your breath as tables are rolled in with bite-size snacks, while waiters pour more champagne in your glass? (Event production company 6up: you nailed it.)
The choreography was two weeks of preparation work, Womenswear tutor Tristan Webber told us, which started over a month ago when the collection line-ups were still in toile. So, nobody could’ve really predicted the outcome that was finally presented. A new standard has been set, and for the first time ever, the RCA has now also arranged an exclusive showroom day where the press, buyers, and recruiters, can immediately see the work in detail and meet the creators behind the garments. When designers who are just graduating have the ability to make such a high-level impact, designers at London Fashion Week should arguably consider to step up their game.
Words by Jorinde Croese
Photography by Olya K.