Representing the creative future

Central Saint Martins BA Fashion Communication 2022: Get to Know the Graduates

As degree show celebrations begin, we speak to the next generation amplifying fashion’s voice

Without a body on which to drape or cultural codes hot-stamped by identity, fashion is merely cloth; a blank canvas. It’s the image-makers, writers, the creative movers and shakers that imbue meaning, and more than ever, messages of hope into what we wear. For this year’s graduates loudest of all is the conversation on gratitude; finding friendship and support across a string of uncertain years. At Central Saint Martins, three undergraduate courses are pioneering how we see the industry: Fashion Communication and Promotion, Fashion Journalism and Fashion History and Theory. Each year, their students innovate ways to interpret fashion, to challenge and strengthen messages sent through mixed media. In an industry torn by political upheaval and financial instability, communication can bring the world together. It elevates some, as seen in Talia Beale’s film on the anti-fetishisation of council estates, and it educates others – which Mollie Marshall achieves with, Missile, her feminist app proposal. While graduates wade the darkness, preparing to enter a murky job market, they all radiate with energy for change. As noted by student journalist Jessica Worth, “I only have to look to the people I’m graduating alongside to be inspired.”

Visit the Central Saint Martins BA FC 2022 showcase in London’s Lethaby Gallery, N1C 4AA

Stacy Chau – BA Fashion Communication and Promotion

For Stacy Chau, it began with bedtime stories. When she was a young girl, her mother would recite fictional tales that sparked a critique on superstition, “Something that has no scientific proof, that people strongly believe in.” Raised in Hong Kong, but born in Korea, she faced bullying for her multicultural heritage and thus, her photobook is one of self-identification. Shot on a 120mm film camera, the project captures animals as fable characters that fall on a spectrum between childhood familiarity and disassociated ambiguity. “The experience was a rollercoaster, but I think it was the final moment when I saw the photos from all the shoots coming together that I started to feel like it was really worth it,” she says of her time on the course. Collaboration is the connecting thread that Stacy has cherished over three years, from classmate support during lengthy tutorials to helping hands on a mud-splattered photoshoot. “What I see most in the industry is a lot of talented people trying their best to make their ideas come to life. And that is something I want to do. I still want to work with aspects of fashion in the future but I want to expand my horizons as a creator and use my skills to contribute to other industries.”

Leonie Schlueter – BA Fashion Communication and Promotion

Grounded in a place of rural solitude, Leo Schlueter’s film uncovers the polarity felt from his upbringing in Drage, a village in Germany. Between the Northern and Baltic sea, with no access to public transport, the image-maker spent his “entire teenage years in the bedroom,” scrolling on Tumblr. Leo’s siblings, who are featured in the final project, embody a sense of closeness in the seclusion – that can be seen through the intimacy of a kitchen haircut or silhouettes palpably embraced by a window frame. “I try to capture my experiences growing up. It’s funny how we always return to our childhood in some ways. I thought I would leave the village forever but now my work revolves entirely around it,” he shares. “Perhaps making this movie was a peace offer or my way of showing gratitude for the life before.” First moving to London for a nanny position after high school, Leo then enrolled at Central Saint Martins with hopes to land a career in film or advertising. In the editing suite, his craft flourished, crediting the visual technicians for their limitless expertise and working alongside his friend, Daniel Wackett, to produce audio scores. “We are lucky to live in a time where fashion is so broad that we can find our niche,” observes Leo, of the talent surrounding him. “Yet the industry is incredibly inaccessible, having the option to be picky about jobs is a privilege so I think the change we are experiencing is incredibly slow. I still haven’t found my place.”

Annastasia Mikhailova – BA Fashion Communication and Promotion

Dropping out of a fashion design course after three weeks, Annastasia Mikhailova began “Thinking more about the fantasy behind fashion,” and how, behind the lens, she could better represent the body.  At the forefront of her film are the words: work, rest and play, which translate through the narrative of a stop-motion, skeletal rabbit as it charmingly potters around a burrow. These terms, too, apply to Annastasia’s own experiences of the final term: “I learned a lot, I cried and stressed but I’m happy I had such a beneficial learning experience,” she says. “You realise how much work it is to make something really valuable, you realise meaningful work comes with age and experience and I don’t have enough yet.” Growing up in North West London, though her parents moved from Estonia, Annastasia chose Central Saint Martins for its creative challenges, where she credits her tutor, Adam Murray, for his support as she trialled the various facets of visual communication. “I’ve realised I most definitely want to stick to photography as I feel I think in photos and not in moving images,” Annastasia says, going on to envision a less-certain future, gripped by climate crises and financial instability in the job market. “It is nice to look around and see self expression through dress become the norm, on the other hand I worry I cannot have children due to the planet being un-liveable. I hope to find a sensitive spot in fashion I can sit in, pay my rent, not stress while producing somewhat meaningful work – where I can peacefully practise my craft.”

Talia Beale – BA Fashion Communication and Promotion

Brutalist banality, miserably crime-ridden, and slathered in graffiti – Talia Beale, a multidisciplinary artist and musician, is demolishing these rigid perceptions of architecture. Growing up in Tottenham, she would observe the tower block as an entity often “overshadowed by gang affiliation presented through fetishised and traumatic imagery.” Her video outcome rehashes the art-house film for “creative and often conflicted kids from concrete castles whose hearts start at home,” she explains, in the process defining a new genre titled ‘art estate film’ to address and uplift marginalised voices. The film is divided into three parts, as snapshots of local happenings, that look to the likes of Simon Wheatley and Gregory Crewdson’s movie-like photographs. A former intern at Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY, Talia subverts raw reality through a surrealist distortion; wide lens, warped compositions that aim to over-stimulate. By creating a disconnect from our world, Talia creates accessibility, in that imagination is free for all. It’s also a reaction to damning media portrayals, where council estates equate to “cabinets of curiosity for the poor, problematic and unconventional that feed into the ever-growing class-war,” she says. On the course, Talia has felt grateful to understand different ways of being and she leaves having found deep comfort within herself. “I hope I continue to float between the industries existing within the music, film, fashion as well as TV scenes. Eventually, I’d like to move to New York for a year and work with KidSuper.”

Archie Taylor – BA Fashion Communication and Promotion

In Smithereen Exchange, the final film and installation by Archie Taylor, virtual saturation is the focal point. It’s a dimension where pixels dart and dance, colours fragment and sounds glitch with electronic unease. “Imagine it as an ode to a lifetime spent online, the byproduct of all the images I’ve ever digested, like a hyper-concentrated YouTube wormhole,” he describes. In the same way that the internet is unregulated, this project became a test of lost control and reliance on experimentation. “Coming to terms with the chaos of the final outcome was really difficult. I’m used to trying to make things as slick and polished as possible but the nature of the film just didn’t allow for that. The soundtrack is all over the place and the transitions are janky but I think that’s kind of the beauty of it,” says Archie. Animation was a new skill set that the image-maker taught himself during his third year, though he wishes to explore audio engineering in further detail, planning to collaborate with various musicians and enact more set-based projects. In a time of content overload, personal connection is something to relish. “I’d say one of the most important things for me has been learning to bring other people on board with my projects. I have really amazing friends and working with them has elevated everything now that I’ve stopped trying to do it all myself,” he reflects.

Josephine Giachero – BA Fashion Journalism

“Are you a connoisseur of trash in a world full of it?” asks Josephine Giacharo, a self-confessed magpie and founder of bi-annual THRIFT ADVISOR: your firsthand guide to secondhand style. Much like the innards of a charity shop, her publication is a slow-browse trove crammed with articles on retro fashion, sentimentalism and kitsch styling tips. Spending her youth in Italy, the quaint town of Turin, Josephine was always drawn to the fur coats and hand-me-down finery worn by her female relatives. After moving to London, she gained an emotional attachment to thrift stores and how the clothes, “even though they are inanimate: they are not living beings, they were created by someone,” she says. “I felt it was my duty, environmentally and humanly, to ensure they had a much more dignified future.” As Josephine studied, the clash-heavy outfits around her at Central Saint Martins, “mixing edgy and classy, moth-eaten and pristine,” pointed to a subculture emerging from the dusty depths of history. Uplifting these frugal stylists, her magazine exists as a “hymn to originality, celebrating circularity and individualism, in a world of conspicuous consumers and fashion victims.” It proves that secondhand doesn’t have to be stuffy. “From compulsive collectors to those who have fetishes for odd collectibles, to happy hoarders or auctions amateurs, flea-market enthusiasts or archives aficionados of all kinds, I wanted there to be something for everybody,” adds Josephine. Over eight months she worked tirelessly with collaborators, including illustrator Howard Tangye and Bay Garnett, founder of sustainable satire zine, Cheap Date, to create a print product that she hopes will be treasured. Slotted between recycled covers sits a multitude of unseen images and, impressively, not a single item of factory-fresh fashion. “Perseverance and integrity are two important qualities I’ve developed,” she says of the project. “I’ve understood the value of reaching out to people you admire and asking them to collaborate without being too subconscious or fearful of not receiving a response. CSM is fantastic at pushing you to try out new skills that are outside of your comfort zone.” Leaving university behind, Josephine looks to find a stockist for her magazine, ahead of its second issue, and locate an editorial job wherever she can.

Jessica Worth – BA Fashion Journalism 

“Not everybody can be saving lives.” When she was aged 17, Jessica Worth spent two years in hospital overcoming a rare cancer diagnosis and – upon watching medical personnel at her bedside – she came to question the moral berth of fashion journalism. “If we’re lucky enough to be healthy and live a comfortable life we should surround ourselves with inspiration and creativity,” she notes. Dotted around Yorkshire, from the cityscapes of Wakefield to coastal towns Sandsend and Robin Hood’s Bay, Jessica spent her youth absorbed by the cultural zeitgeist. From first reading about the sixties space race to collecting countless magazines, she maintains that “expanding your brain and being so stimulated by knowledge is rare,” but it’s something that Central Saint Martins teaches well across its history classes. For her final project, JUNE THE JOURNAL, Jessica intersects fashion, art and culture in an annual publication that “interviews talents on the cusp of success, nascent names who are just beginning to establish themselves.” As a result, she aims to reign in “whip-lash quick reactions” that are prevalent in news writing and the shortening digital attention span. This retrospective approach is “about acknowledging the past whilst looking to the future; producing meditative and thought-out responses,” Jessica explains. Within the journal, profiles can be found on fashion design students like Maximillian Raynor, of BA Fashion Design and Marketing, young US artist Qualeasha Wood and several Ukrainian creatives overcoming adversity, including Alesksandra Glybina who produced army artillery vests from her studio at a time of grave need. Despite a plethora of talent within it, Jessica feels conflicted about the fashion climate ahead: “Part of me finds the speed, the vociferous appetite of the industry and its insatiable nature quite depressing. But another part of me finds it exciting – that there are so many ideas generated, that creativity is continually exercised.”

Mollie Marshall – BA Fashion Journalism

Adapting politics to a screen-first age, Mollie Marshall presents her app, Missile, as “an accessible space where young feminists, interested in the creative industry, [can] learn about those making a change.” Born and raised in Essex, Mollie recalls how childhood bullies introduced a difficult start to education, yet the support around her at Central Saint Martins has been anything but hostile. “The close-knit community we have in journalism acts as a safety net and everyone is always there to catch you when you fall – especially during crit-tutorials!” she laughs. “It is an insanely intense course and I don’t think many people realise that.” One day, a visit to the Tate Modern turned into an integral lesson for Mollie, who bought a book on the suffragettes and uncovered a world of knowledge on Gorilla Girl activism. “I’ve always looked up to women who were making a difference in other women’s lives. I want my work to mean something, I hope that Missile can do its part in making a change in gender equality,” she says, citing Jackie magazine and Riot Grrrl as further references. “My reasons for launching an app are that it is the most efficient way for young people with busy lives and little money to access feminism.” It filled a gap in the market, situated somewhere between pastel-saturated wellness platforms and mental health trackers. By progressing away from print, Mollie adopted numerous roles from writer and video editor, to a graphic designer, learning above all “to listen to what [your] heart is telling [you], because that’s where you’ll find your most successful ideas.” Having decided against Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies for her MA degree, Mollie still hopes to eventually publish a book on feminist academia. “I don’t think that until a whole new generation is rolled in, we will begin to see ethical change. I latch onto the glimmers of sincerity from people in the industry, in the hope that others can do the same,” she says.

Marleen Adama – BA Fashion History and Theory

Marleen Adama’s dissertation, The Posthuman Promise of Hybrid Skin: How do you make yourself a Face without Organs? analyses the body as a border connecting the outer environment to our inner, primitive psyche. Her studies examine the face and skin as theoretical human-isms that elicit instinctual control, like how “by wearing a grill we mobilise our bodies to talk, swallow and drink differently; we become other than or more than human,” Marleen explains. “It’s built on overlapping concepts from biology and metaphysics which allow us to see fashion as powerful and with agency.” Rather than read books on dress history like many of her classmates, she conceptualises and challenges fashion through the body on which it exists – exploring zoological studies and even comparative physiognomy for insights. “It was hard to have confidence in what I wanted to say because there was no other text to turn to, but I’ve learned to trust what you believe in,” she says. Hailing from Estonia, Marleen had pursued Central Saint Martins since the age of 14, as her “secret dream” to study Womenswear – being unsure if she could finance the course, or meet its rigid entry criteria. As time passed, she found it “a challenge to stop the research process and move on to actually finishing a garment without serving to another theme,” eventually finding her footing in theory. Three years later, she completed her degree on “a random Monday at 4 pm – I was ecstatic, proud, scared, crying; I was writing it with my whole body: my hair fell out, my eyes blood red, I actually felt I transcended!” Though Marleen cannot afford to continue her studies at this time, she insists that her duty remains to “prove that not all facts are facts, histories can be rewritten and science is fiction.”

Adelaide Guerisoli – BA Fashion Journalism

What do the kids find cool? Adelaide Guerisoli went on a nostalgia trip to find out. After conducting a focus group with Gen Z creatives, she launched Geeky as “an unpretentious publication that could reflect their interests and passions.“ Her research harked back to the nineties; teenage bedrooms plastered by band posters and mixtape cassettes, the golden age of grunge and celebrity gossip magazines. “I wanted the visual content of the publication to be playful and surprising. As a writer, I had to take my time to master my skills as a graphic designer, which was difficult at first but definitely a fun and useful experience,” she says. Through features on groupie culture and mystical manga art, by Aya Takano, the publication celebrates scenes from the underground as well as youth talent around the world. Its overarching premise is to take pride in what drives you – be that ‘cheugy’ fashion or activist arts. For Adelaide, peers were the greatest motivator during her final project: “The course has taught me how to be independent and how to make my voice heard. It has helped me to establish meaningful relationships with all my classmates and gave me the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded people.” Currently working as freelance writer, Adelaide will soon plan the magazine’s next issue to ensure that ‘geeking out’ is always in style.