This year’s RCA MA Fashion grads are the first to have had the full Zowie Broach experience. The Head of Fashion, who succeeded Wendy Dagworthy two years ago, has proved to push the boundaries of what a graduate fashion show is or can be. Through maintaining an ongoing conversation with the students under her tutelage, they decided last year to stage a choreographed show, and moved this year’s show entirely out of the college, for the first time in nearly two decades. The venue was an old hotel in serious state of decay, located at 10 Lancaster Gate, just a short walk through the park from the RCA’s Kensington Gore building. Only one look of each 38 designers was presented, almost like a teaser for what was to come next: an evening of live performances on Friday (entitled ‘Avant Hard’) and a showroom for the full weekend, where the collections could be discovered in their entirety. 

By giving friends, press, buyers and potential employers an opportunity to meet the designers in an environment that’s not quite ‘college’, it situated them in a more professional setting — apt as they are all about to embark on their journeys into the industry. During the weekend we caught up with eight designers to hear their thoughts on how this year’s collections were presented.

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“If you don’t push, you’re never going to get anything new.” – Amanda Svart

Miles Dunphy, Fashion Menswear with Knit

“The format is much better. If you see my garments on the catwalk, they are moving and existing. After that, you can see it at your convenience in a showroom setting, which is great. What I want is people wearing my clothes, not just models. When we did the performance on Friday evening, we saw real people wearing the clothes and moving in them, which made it easier to communicate my concept.”

Elsa Ellies, Fashion Menswear with Knit

“Change is good, right? The clothes become more dynamic, and it’s almost more real. For my photoshoot, I found people like the rapper Vinch from South London. He is just starting out, and he’s passionate about making and producing music. When I put the clothes on him, he was able to imbue the clothes with his persona. It’s really fantastic when you see it coming to life on someone who is so passionate about what he does.”

Amanda Svart, Fashion Womenswear

“It’s exciting because it’s new. If you don’t push, you’re never going to get anything new. We were worried about being able to only show one look initially. We worked so hard to produce eight! There was a lot of pressure to decide which one look represents your entire collection. Overall, I think it was a great success. We are all more confident. I trust myself much more, as I was able to pull it off and make it happen.”

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“We could communicate the true vision of our collections, instead of becoming subject to the repetitive approach that university presentations can fall into.” – Timothy Bouyez-Forge

Laetitia Berthier, Fashion Menswear

“It was great, because we had the opportunity to present our work in three different ways over four consecutive days. The couture show was about only one piece, and one statement that was completely controlled. The performance felt much more hands-on and student-led. It was very personal for me. It felt like all the garments were coexisting with each other. The showroom is calmer now, and you have time to come close to the garments and enjoy them at your own pace.”

Adam Martin, Fashion Menswear

“The essence of a designer is really important, because we lose it sometimes when we’re giving away too much information. This show format worked for me because I’ve been able to put across a feeling. I think fashion is moving in this way at the moment. I believe it’s good training for young designers to experience something that’s new and emotive.”

Marie Maisonneuve, Fashion Menswear with Knit

“It was a really great way to celebrate the end of our work, which we all worked really hard for. It felt like a celebration. At first, the show had a kind of emotion and formality. Then on Friday, there were performances everywhere. Now, we’re all entering back into it as a team in the showroom.”

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1granary-rca-royal-college-of-art-ma-fashion-2016-Jessica McGrady

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1granary-rca-royal-college-of-art-ma-fashion-2016-Helen Kirkum

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1granary-rca-royal-college-of-art-ma-fashion-2016-Ju Yeon Hong

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Timothy Bouyez-Forge, Fashion Womenswear

“It’s a beautiful progression of how student works can be presented. A lot of things have become very systematic. By doing an MA, we’ve got the chance to present who we are, and stay true to that as much as possible. We only had one garment in this first show, so it was hard to edit my whole collection, but on the other hand, we were able to focus on one ultimate garment. We could communicate the true vision of our collections, instead of becoming subject to the repetitive approach that university presentations can fall into.”

Stefanie Tschirky, Fashion Womenswear

“We were able to put our vision into the show’s hair, makeup, casting, runway and music. I loved being able to work with a show producer and choreographer, because we were able to build this concept and show our garments in exactly the way we wanted. I think this approach has been carried on from the show to the exhibition, where it now lives on.”

Words by Honor Cooper-Hedges

All images courtesy of 1 Granary

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