Representing the creative future

Central Saint Martins MA Fashion Image 2021: Meet this year’s graduates

Discover the pertinent work of the students who aspire to shape the future of fashion image

When it comes to creating a powerful image, Central Saint Martins’ MA Fashion Image Class of 2021 is well-versed. Enduring their first term in lockdown, and their second spent in the college with limited facilities, the graduates didn’t let this year’s challenges hinder their creativity. Now unveiling their highly-anticipated major projects, the graduates’ final pieces of work are testament to their determination and unwavering talent. 

Adam Murray, the MA Fashion Image pathway leader, shares how this year’s cohorts rose to the challenges. “They all dealt with it remarkably well,” he says. “I’m confident that this is a group of image-makers who are all prepared to enter the industry and offer new ways of thinking about image-making.” Boasting a promising array of short films, curated books and VR experiences, the class of MA Fashion Image 2021 will be showcasing their work at Shoreditch art gallery, FILET, for just two days next week. “The showcase is an opportunity to celebrate the exciting work produced by this class,” says Murrey. “There is a real variety in approaches this year, with some students working with more traditional forms of photography and others exploring the possibilities that digital image-making and interactive platforms offer.” From Scottish lochs to London youth culture, human blindspots to artificial intelligence, some image-makers turned towards home for the influence of their works, whilst others turned inwards, finding inspiration in thematic touchpoints including perception and the imagination.

Anticipating the upcoming exhibition and the influx of photographs that are soon to grace our social media feeds, we spoke to the 8 graduates about their final projects, their processes, and what a fashion image means to them.

The MA Fashion Image 2021 Showcase is free to visit at 103 Murray Grove, N1 7QP, on Wednesday 1st December 16:00-20:00, and Thursday 2nd December 10:00-17:00. 


“This project is a fictional letter to myself,” says Aparna Aji. “A letter that sells dreams I wish were sold to me.” An ode to her Indian heritage, the Kerala-born, and Chennai-bred graduate’s final project comprises imagery that pays homage to her childhood and adolescence. Existing in what she deems to be “a constant state of standby,” Aji’s photo series sits on the border between fact and fiction, creating a fluid conversation between fashion image and dimensions of the everyday. “This series is meant to serve as a locus of rituals, identity, sartorial presentation, and everyday theatricality,” Aji says. Employing the technique of vernacular photography and intentional error, Aji’s work seeks “to decolonise an elitist practice of image-making,” tied together to create a piece that is unsettling yet familiar. Accompanied with the photographs is an audiovisual installation, where the viewer can interpret and create their own fragment of storylines with pairings of images and sounds – curated, as Aji says, like an REM dream.


For his final project, Martus Chai has produced “Streetly,” a publication that explores the London streetwear scene. Celebrating the youth culture of today, the image-maker explores the “drops and merchandise” and “the archival fashion group” scenes, as well as studying the current culture of skater fashion. “I try to incorporate different streetwear scenes into my project to make sure that different parts of it are being represented,” says Chai. “The fun part about streetwear culture is that you can create your own tribe and each and every piece of the garment you collect represents a different group. Fashion in London is so much fun because there are no rules. The outfits are always unexpected and there’s always so many backstories behind each and every look.”


Utilising both traditional and more experimental techniques, Lowri Cooper’s final project took on a process-driven approach. With the intention of shooting the details that are not always in one’s waking mind, Cooper explores notions of perception by creating ‘tactile’ images which focus on textures, pattern form, and shape. Considering her subject matter from an alternative standpoint, Cooper is reminding us of what lies beyond the blindspots of our human-centred perception. “In an ever-overstimulating world, we’ve become so accustomed to perceiving things a certain way, that sometimes it’s difficult to see our blindspots and understand what we don’t perceive,” says Cooper. “My project aims to visually explore these blindspots and, in turn, question the reliability of our perceptions and the nature of our reality. I suppose it’s learning to appreciate the often-overlooked things in everyday light and perceive them in a new light.”


Kallan Hughes’ major project explores the intersection between machine learning and photography, delving into a world of artificial intelligence. For the image-maker, creating abstract outcomes push the boundaries of what is considered to be a fashion image. “There is so much potential when it comes to AI, and I think it is really important to explore and experiment with non-traditional methods of image creation,” he says. “I didn’t really have anything particular in mind that I wanted to depict. The still and moving image pieces are experimental. Part of the process for me was learning to fall in love with the imperfect.”


An infatuation for Chinese Tuwei aesthetics has always lied at the forefront of Yao Peng’s imagery. Growing up in China, and moving to London, Peng’s fascination with her culture intersects with Western aesthetics, her final project depicting this overlap. For Peng, her imagery depicts Chinese youth embracing this Tuwei subculture, participating in the new trend of fashion. “I want to show the fashion expressions with Chinese Tuwei aesthetics as the soil, to visually reveal this social phenomenon, to cause the public to reflect on it. At the same time, it is also my vision of fashion aesthetics in the direction close to contemporary art,” Peng says. “The contribution of Gen Z and the pursuit of non-mainstream cultures can represent the direction of aesthetics belonging to the main fashion consumers of the future.”


Ruby Pluhar seeks to paint a reflection of our positions in the world. The environmental and fashion photographer’s final project focuses on the more expansive ways of being in and out of the world; “creating a dialectic,” which she cites, as “between something that is very precise and intimate and at the same time vast and intangible, and can only be reached through the imagination.” For Pluhar, this involves looking more closely, and listening more deeply to the intricacies of our surroundings, attuning to the processes taking place around us, and noticing the finer details, which we might otherwise miss. “By working with subjects directly in the landscape, I want to show a more conscious and balanced relationship to the earth,” Pluhar says. “I give the lens over to nature to form meaning with its view. The body becomes a vessel that is in direct exchange with each environment.”


Bluebell Ross stayed close to home for her final project, with a desire to weave tales of her native Scotland throughout. Moving from Scotland down to London, the 23-year-old photographer finds herself missing wild swimming in her local loch more than ever. The project is a love letter to bathing with other women, celebrating femininity, motherhood and heritage through images of the Scottish landscape, rivers, sentimental items of clothing, and the women most important to her. “My project explores our need for physical human connection in a post-covid world…this connection being symbolised through water,” the Aberfeldy-born image-maker says. “Water is considered as something feminine, and I wanted this to be explored through a domestic and personal lens. I was inspired by matrilineal relationships to clothing so I styled my shoot with personal pieces passed down through the generations of my family. My work highlights the incredible bond women have with one another.”


Emoji Sim’s passion for digital culture, storytelling, and communication has developed a multidisciplinary practice that presents new modes of fashion communication and multi-platform experience. “Since my major work is rooted in digital photographic practices and screen-based media, I have explored how we navigate physical and virtual identities,” says Eomji. “In order to explore this relationship, the traditional digital photography has the perspective of reality, while the 3D scanning is expressed in a way that shows virtual space so that the form that appears in real-time is visualised through the method of AR.” Creating a world where the abstraction of digital space meets the physical urban landscape, Sim blends the two through immersive modes of virtual and augmented reality, by investigating a variety of digital media and other related platforms.