Representing the creative future


The 2023 graduates from Central Saint Martins’ BA in Fashion Communication share their projects and future plans

To thrive as a young creative in fashion is a challenge on its own. The cost-of-living crisis can add extra strain to the process. Sharing the hard times, several of this year’s graduates from the Fashion Communication BA courses at Central Saint Martins, which includes the pathways of Fashion Journalism, Fashion Communication and Promotion, and Fashion History and Theory, experience similar emotions on post-university life. There is the common fear of the unknown, followed by a general sense of excitement towards new possibilities, practices, and collaborative initiatives.

Whether moved and inspired by their personal stories or by those they’ve met throughout the undergrad course, we talked to 11 image makers, writers, historians, and artists, who proudly shed light on their work. Here is a preview of what we can expect from those who soon will be reshaping an industry that cannot survive – or evolve – without them.

Pia Brynteson, Fashion Journalism

When Pia Brynteson first started to think about her Fashion Journalism final project, she had the urge to create something with a more global lens instead of a portrait of the UK, where she is originally from. But it was only after a conversation with Sarah Hermez, founder of the Lebanese social enterprise Creative Space Beirut (CSB-SE), that Brynteson decided to tell its story, and turned the narrative into a self-funded documentary.

CSB – formed by a school of design, a fashion label, and an online retail platform – helps the development of different design practices in Beirut, by providing resources, structure, and partnerships with sociocultural initiatives. The initiative caught Brynteson’s attention:

“I hope the film will be useful for everyone who is a part of the strong community of CSB and opens their talented students to a new audience. I’m so excited to release it to the public and see it reach its full potential,” she says.

The hardest part of it all, Brynteson says, was having enough of a budget to make the project happen, which included a one-month stay in Lebanon and resources dedicated to team management, which ended up as a huge learning experience in her career.

“The most important thing was working within a team and overcoming difficulties when working internationally,” says. With the excitement that comes after university, she’s now happy to be able to work on more projects, as well as to dedicate herself to Dua Lipa’s editorial company Service95, where she will take the role of Digital Editor from September onwards.


Catérine Korchagin, Fashion History and Theory

Catérine Korchagin’s primary concern during war times was to find ways to support people in her home country, Ukraine. Therefore, the decision towards the subject of her Fashion History and Theory major project was a real challenge. “By the realisation that the majority of literature available in English, both in the CSM library and online, explored Ukraine solely as a part of the Russian empire or the Soviet Union and neglecting its unique identity, I decided to stay true to what I knew best and embarked on a writing journey focused on Ukraine and its culture,” Korchagin explains.

Korchagin grew up in Kyiv and, for her, the hardest part of it all was how personally significant and complex this project was in the current context: “I delved into the exploration of Ukrainian culture and history during a time when Ukrainians were being targeted and persecuted for their identity, and museums and entire cities were being bombed by the Russian army,” she confesses. The chosen topic, seen by her as an opportunity to educate Western audiences about how authentic Ukrainian culture and history are, is her attempt at decolonising part of literature, particularly when we talk about the fashion sphere. “I aimed to challenge prevailing narratives and promote a more comprehensive understanding of Ukraine’s rich cultural heritage. The most significant realization I had was how deeply colonized my perception of Ukrainian culture was, and how much more I still have to learn,” says. Interested in psychology and with a mindset that values how important it is to keep pushing forward in any learning process, Korchagin’s plans from now involve taking some time to figure out if the fashion industry still feels right for her as a career: “I want to ascertain whether I can still find depth and meaning in the realm of fashion,” she concludes.

Feranmi Eso, Fashion Communication and Promotion

A true enthusiast of the people he chooses to style, which repeatedly inspires him, Feranmi Eso’s work attempts to physically conceptualise the idea of timelessness. That’s why the British image maker and stylist tends to combine references from his childhood and elements to which he is naturally drawn as part of his creations. “Default,” Eso’s final project, follows the above premise. The intimate lookbook, which showcases “beautiful youths adorned in silhouettes, garments, and accessories,” uses what he calls a “creative intuition” to put together different suggestions around how the body could be dressed, and how it could look. How technology will impact the creative industry is a worry for Eso, but he is also thrilled with the possibilities that post-graduation will offer: “When I think about the factors that have impacted the zeitgeist in the past, technology usually has one of the largest influences on jobs and creativity. This is both exciting and a worry. I plan to continue working on the language that I have developed over my time at Central Saint Martins, and expanding the visual world that I’ve created,” he says.

Sophie Murray, Fashion History and Theory

With the desire to become a curator for a fashion house or museum and a master’s course in History of Art starting in September, it’s not a surprise that the British-born with Palestinian and Scottish background Sophie Murray’s final project used historical fashion images as a foundation for her research. “The inspiration came from my research days in the British Library during the summer of my second year. I found photographs of Victorians who performed tableaux vivants [in French, the name of a static scene containing one or more actors or models], but they were anonymous with no provenance. So, these images became a starting point for investigation,” she explains.

Therefore, her project was a demonstration of how women can use fashion to achieve personal, political, and social agency. By challenging historical discourses that normally depict women as passive beings, Murray aimed to show that they have historically used fashion to convey themselves as active, which, according to her, “can easily be transferred to modern-day fashion images, so is relevant in today’s culture.”

Murray praises the people she has met at Central Saint Martins, “unique and inspirational individuals” with whom she feels lucky to have had the opportunity to learn. The pressure of perfectionism was one of her biggest challenges throughout the course, something she believes several creatives tend to experience in life. “I have learnt how to let go and enjoy the process of creating a piece of writing, instead of just the end result,” she says.

Oré Ajala, Fashion Journalism

Writer and visual storyteller Oré Ajala wanted to create something authentic and honest for her Fashion Journalism final project. Drawn by her own heritage as a black British and Nigerian woman, she then used the topic of hair as a main source. Inspired by different emotions, her living experience, and meaningful people, such as the Nigerian photographer J. D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere, she then put together the documentary “To and ‘Fro”. “I’m big on people-watching, especially barbershop goers. As a child, my dad would take me and my four sisters to the barbershop to watch our little brother get his hair cut – it was a whole family affair. I’ve always been in awe of how men would enter the shops looking enervated and leave looking and feeling their best,” she says. With the help of her tutors, James Anderson and Philip Clarke, she developed the idea of a documentary dedicated to uplifting the stories of queer black men and nonbinary people, an audience that, for Ajala, deserves the spotlight and recognition. “I wanted to know if barbershops were safe spaces for queer black men and non-binary people to feel uplifted, the same way it is for cis-hetero men. And if not, where?” she questions. Ajala wishes to continue mastering her storytelling skills, and hopefully find the right people to collaborate with. “Being from a working-class family I was lucky to be accepted into an institution that has endless opportunities, equipment, and people to nurture me.  [From now on] I plan to throw myself into the work – there’s still so much more to learn and absorb, especially within film documentation,” reflects.


Ella Slater, Fashion Journalism

After having to overcome the challenging years of no social interactions and internet learning caused by the pandemic, British writer Ella Slater decided that her Fashion Journalism final project would combine her two main loves, art and literature. “I was reading a lot of New Narrative writers at the time and had just finished my dissertation on Hannah Wilke and the ‘female monster,’ dubbed by Chris Kraus in one of my favourite books, ‘I Love Dick.’ The idea of the ‘female monster’ is all about excess, being ‘too much,’ which I really resonated with, and the more I looked the more I found that there were lots of artists and poets working with [the concept] today,” Slater says. Influenced by the work of those artists, such as Marina Abramović, Penny Goring, and Rene Matić, Slater then created “Intra Venus,” a print publication that celebrates the artistic practice of women and non-binary people – for whom, as Slater puts, “being ‘too much,” as [writer] Dodie Bellamy says, is ‘always a form of resistance.’” Because she couldn’t print as many copies of the magazine as she wished, Slater is still figuring out how to distribute and share the work featured in Intra Venus, but social media channels have been used as an important tool in the meantime. Besides the wish to develop her writing practice and her freelance work, she will soon be hosting a series of conversations where visual artists talk about a writer of their choice, and writers about a visual artist of their choice, “which is very exciting and something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” celebrates.

Elmira Ismukhamedova, Fashion Communication and Promotion

Originally born in Kazakhstan, multidisciplinary creative Elmira Ismukhamedova grew up in Sweden, following her parents’ decision to immigrate. To reconnect with her lost surroundings and with the goal of “celebrating young creatives in Almaty who reinvents and keeps traditions alive through their visual practices, homes, and styles,” Ismukhamedova transformed her own background story into her major project, the digital film ‘Peace of Home.’ “My film initially explored the phenomenon of colour being erased in our surroundings, as they successively transform into being neutral. This was based on my personal experience of migration from Kazakhstan to Sweden, through which I realised that the colours and patterns I grew up with would slowly be exchanged for the ‘Scandinavian minimalism,” she explains. The completion of the degree was, in part, a financial struggle, as Ismukhamedova comes from a working-class family. Finding ways to work around a lower budget, she opens, was also what led her to learn 3D visual image making. Months later, she recognises that what started as a solution to cut production and reduce the cost of materials is now a skill she aims to develop. “I am quite excited to see where the skills and knowledge that I’ve shaped during my uni years can take me. I plan to further experiment with how the medium of 3D can be used beyond surreal visuals alongside focusing on art direction, and hopefully eventually relocate back to Sweden as I am very homesick,” says.


Eva Nunney, Fashion Communication and Promotion

“Working ‘face to face’ is integral to me,” says Eva Nunney, who grew up on the coast of Cornwall but moved to London to complete a degree in Fashion Communication and Promotion. The visual artist values a collaborative approach in her projects, which, for her, leads to a more intimate, purposeful, and often surprising outcome. Not by chance, her photographic major project ‘Heaven is Other People’ presents a “testament to the beauty of unabashed individuality” on each page, casting aside the human self-monitoring gaze to creatively celebrate the characters Nunney met with. “Meeting [people] in pubs and clubs, on dating apps, on social media, at work, and at university, and using non-professional models in my work allows for a more collaborative and mutually rewarding experience for both the subject and the photographer,” Nunney says. Because of Nunney’s appreciation for human connections, one of her biggest struggles during the course was having to cope with Covid restrictions, which she believes has affected both students and staff. “The hardest part was when after almost a year away from home and settled in London the lockdown was enforced, and we had to go back home and learn to work together remotely in different time zones,” explains. Relieved and excited about experimenting with her craft and hopefully collaborating with even more people, Nunney is mostly grateful. “I try not to worry too much about what the future holds, I am hoping that chat GPT and the AI robots don’t steal our jobs. I’m excited to use the confidence I acquired. I’ve learned so much from my colleagues at CSM, and hope I have inspired them in return,” acknowledges.

Alexander Arauz, Fashion Communication and Promotion

While many students use their final major projects as an “end of a cycle” outcome, Alexander Arauz sees his creative production as the start of something new. “It was less of a culmination and more of a beginning of where I see my work leading. After trying a lot of other things out, I found that taking photos felt like the most natural and right thing for me to be doing,” Arauz explains. And despite his final project ended up being a fashion photography case, he only started taking pictures for about five months before the course handover: “I hadn’t used the photo studios ever at CSM before, so it was essentially a portfolio of the best images I’d taken up until that point,” he says. From the United States, Arauz experienced the overwhelming feeling of being in an art school like Central Saint Martins, one of the most challenging aspects of the course in his opinion. “The hardest part for me was narrowing down what I actually wanted to focus on. Being somewhere with so many facilities and resources, sometimes you feel like you want to try and do everything, and that ends up stopping you from starting things in the first place. Choice can be a blessing and a curse,” he states. With a few shoots lined up soon, Arauz wants to explore as many opportunities to take pictures as possible, which he only realised in his final year. “Late in the game I started to appreciate being at CSM and had a lot of breakthroughs in terms of finding my focus and making work. I feel like I started working extremely fast and precise to make up for lost time,” he says.

Arisa Takada and Jermine Chua, Fashion Communication and Promotion

“Why aren’t you both not working together?,” asked Dal Chodha, Joint Stage One Leader on BA Fashion Communication and Promotion at Central Saint Martins, to Arisa Takada and Jermine Chua. Following their tutor’s advice, Takada and Chua then decided to pursue the creation of A to J, a London-based creative studio founded by them.  “Rather than one major project outcome, our entire final project surrounded establishing ourselves as an art direction duo and creating a portfolio of work showcasing our identity and skills. We were also motivated as there are not many female art directors with international backgrounds based in London,” says Takada, who was born in Sydney but comes from a Japanese background. For Singaporean art director and image maker Jermine Chua, the whole process of building A to J, a studio characterised by their sensitivity and curiosity for the world, was an attempt to try and fulfil a question within themselves. “As much as it can feel digitally driven, it is very much a human experience. Looking back now, I think it’s influenced by our Covid experience and our relationship with the internet. The common theme that exists within the projects is the juxtaposition between what appears to be real and what actually is,” she explains. Learning how to work collaborative and demonstrate their individuality as a duo were some of the biggest challenges faced by the two creatives, but Chua comprehends how fashion is constantly made by the people you allow yourself to work with. “I think other than technical takeaways, [fashion] is a lot about person-to-person interaction. Working with people is always what makes a project so much more exciting and successful when it is a healthy collaboration,” she says.

The time spent at university is not the “finish line,” Takada says, as their plans from now on involve pursuing art direction, both as a full-time job and on the side. With exciting projects lined up, “there are definitely uncertainties surrounding post-uni life, especially living with the reality of the rising cost of living, but it can also be quite exhilarating since it feels like we’ve all been training just for this moment for the past 4 years,” assumes.