Representing the creative future

The hidden gem of CSM: Discover the sketchbooks of the Graduate Diploma Fashion 2021 students

This class of students learned that the journey is more important than the outcome

Located at the end of the BA Fashion studios on the second floor of the Central Saint Martins campus is the working space of the Graduate Diploma course, a small atelier made up of a few tables and a scattering of mannequins. Here, so small you could overlook it, is one of the hidden gems of CSM.

The working environment is often quiet, except for the low hum of air conditioning and the quiet whir of a sewing machine. Layers of tulle fabric fall in delicate folds over the side of a table. The designers on this one-year course, which sits between the BA and MA programmes, are bent in concentration. The focus is intense and unrelenting. Grad Dip is for designers who have grown beyond the undergraduate years of free-wheeling development and are on their way to much bigger things, experimenting with intensely personal collections that explore subject matter often neglected by mainstream society.

David Kappo, who founded the course and has run it since 2009, supervises his charges with a light touch. “It’s a wonderful course – the students are of such amazing standard. I try to take away the fear of failure and replace it with the joy of creation. The journey is more important than the outcome at this stage. For me, it’s important the students identify who they are and what they are about. The rest will fall into place.”

The sources of inspiration of these designers perceive no barriers. David invited 1 Granary to explore the richness of this year’s students, who have just completed their course.


Uncomfortable: JuHee Park

“I want my collection to make people feel uncomfortable,” JuHee Park says. Her final collection, Women in Fur, does just that. She integrates an arching-shaped plate in her spherical silhouettes, a plethora of faux fur jackets and dresses clad in spherical extensions, and knitted bodies complete with a  feather-like weave. Park’s mismatched variety of shapes, structures, and textures is intended to create a sense of unease. The collection reflects the mistreatment of women, she explains. “For this collection, I was inspired by objectification and feeling uncomfortable,” the 27-year-old designer says. “Through instinctive association, I thought about eroticism, and the importance of distinguishing the difference between eroticism, sexuality, and objectification. A woman can be a sexual and erotic being, but this does not mean she desires to be objectified. I hope my collection encapsulates how this might feel.”

JuHee Park's sketchbooks

Technical sensations: Maxime Touze

Maxime Touze has an affinity for jet engines and technology. Using technical materials to create an illusion of movement, the 22-year-old menswear designer has delivered a collection titled “A Sensation of Movement and Speed.” It recreates engine-like surfaces through a mixture of hardcore and masculine looks fresh out of a sci-fi film. “I want the audience to be confused and dazed but mainly to discover new perspectives and inquire the object until they assume, consider and settle with the truth,” Touze says. The French-Canadian designer’s anthracite grey motor-cross armour suit, with a matching helmet and a crossbody bag, is constructed entirely from free-form pieces of cross-stitched foamboard. Vacuum-press printing technology embosses bas-relief textures on sheets of foamboards. “In many ways, my work itself is an illusion, a mirage that only I can decode,” the designer says. “But it’s this blurred line between the viewer’s perspective and that of my own that makes it all interesting.”

Maxime Touze's sketchbooks

Monsters: Clementine Baldo

From swelling masses of waterproof fabric to PVA-coated tulle trousers reminiscent of scarred skin, the Normandy-born designer’s collection, Little monster, responds to the unrealistic body standards imposed by society. Seeking to demolish the beauty myths surrounding the so-called ideal figure, the 23-year-old designer accentuates the “abnormalities” of the female body by creating pieces that explore the so-called “monstrosities” of womanhood.

Rolls of flesh are shown in all their glory through Baldo’s selection of elasticated, string-drawn corsets – one of her crop tops features a scan of her own boobs. Combining homemade slime made from PVA glue and shaming foam with a waterproof fabric into a mould, Baldo creates bulges and swelling abscesses in her work that can be squeezed and grabbed. For the designer, it’s a response to the groping that women can face in daily life. The collection is a response to the social pressures on women. Ultimately, Little monster is a love letter to the female body.

Clementine Baldo's sketchbooks

Dinner time: Daniel Bosco

Daniel Bosco’s collection is inspired by having dinner at his grandparents. The Italian-Canadian fashion designer has created a beautiful and touching tapestry of his Italian heritage for his final collection, drawing on influences from Italian television shows from the 60s and 70s as well as food he would eat at home. Integrating patterns such as gingham table cloths and floral curtains, Bosco’s collection is a marriage of his own legacy to camp style. One of the looks comprises a yellow floral dress and cape that hangs from a headdress resembling a window – it’s inspired by tender memories of his grandparents. “When we would leave their house, they would always be at their windows waving,” the designer says. “Even twenty minutes after, if you went back, they’d still be there looking for you.”

Body positivity: Lili Pázmány

Lili Pázmány has focused on the celebration of body positivity for women with disabilities. The Hungarian designer’s lingerie-based collection is all about the empowerment of disabled women having sex.  “Everyone thinks the disabled just don’t have sex. It’s imposed against their sexuality,” the designer says. “I have friends who have been rejected on dating apps. As soon as the chair is mentioned, they’re just ghosted.”

Melodramatic flair meets function in the womenswear designer’s collection as the elastic panels and magnets allow for the garments to fit comfortably around curves and for a wider variety of sizes. Reminiscent of an orchid flower in full bloom, the showstopper piece in Pázmány’s collection is a crimson red lace cape. Its skeletal boning allows for the structure to curl and undulate, just like a petal. A matching red skirt is also domed so as not to meddle with the machinery of the wheelchair underneath, “I wanted to involve the chair because it’s often spoken about as a boundary, it’s so stupid because it really shouldn’t be one.”

Lili Pázmány's sketchbooks

Madagascar: Fabiola Soavelo

Fabiola Soavelo’s collection centers on the unique mixture of Madagascar’s multi-cultural heritage and her fascination with the futuristic representations of clothes. Titled Amaray (meaning tomorrow in Malagasy), Soavelo’s transformative pieces reference a kind of inter-galactic Afro-tribalism (think Star Wars meet Transformers) – structurally futuristic and definitely psychedelic. It’s about that escapism that dances between the virtual world of science fiction and the realm of human reality. “My clothes are a modular garment, like an armour,” explains Soavelo. “It is an extension of the body that can adapt and respond to the reality of the environment. But just like all science fiction characters, our imaginary future is shaped by our past and must provide solutions to our present struggles.”

Fabiola Soavelo's development

Family legacy: Shaydn Gill

Shaydn Gill comes from Dubbo, a rural village four hours outside of Sydney, Australia. Her collection, Rootstock, is a poignant ode to her family’s legacy. Representing her parent’s work in the agricultural industry, the designer upcycles sheep’s wool and shearling offcuts, whilst also ingraining checkerboard prints and surfboard shapes, which allude to her father, an avid surfer, and lifeguard. The colour palette of the collection – sand, sunshine yellow, walnut brown, fern green, and sky blue – evokes the serene and blissful hues of the Australian landscape in which the designer’s family roots are so deeply embedded. “I’m so interested in using fashion as a form to educate myself about my culture that my family and I were denied,” Gill says. “My mum’s side of the family is indigenous and we’re part of this era of time in Australia where there was so much assimilation, racism, and denial. The collection represents a longing for what you never had.”

Shaydn Gill' sketchbook