Representing the creative future


The MAFC exhibition opens on the 29th November at the Lethaby Gallery

This coming week, Central Saint Martins’ MA Fashion Communication students present their work to the public at the Lethaby Gallery. For the first time, this year’s show will publicly exhibit all three pathways that make up the course, which was set up in 2015. These being MA Fashion Image, MA Fashion Journalism, and MA Fashion Critical Studies. This year’s show is intended as somewhat distanced from the traditional degree show format, considered more as “A snapshot of ongoing work and themes that students have engaged with throughout the year,” according to Adam Murray, leader of MA Fashion Image.

The Fashion Image pathway, which Murray enthuses “Encourages students to develop innovative approaches to the creation of new fashion imagery that resonates with audiences worldwide,”, runs alongside MA Fashion journalism, a course with a decades-long history at the school. Having previously existed within the MA Fashion department, Fashion Journalism, Murray explains, is built on “A strong foundation of writing and editing for print and digital media,” and is now expanding to include copywriting, branded content and social media. Finally, Fashion Critical Studies offers students a research-based format within which to rewrite fashion histories, “Challenging their Eurocentric dominance,” through an academic approach to the study of fashion and style cultures.

The design of the exhibition, Murray posits, is “deliberately simple.” The walls are lined with large-scale prints and moving imagery produced by the Fashion Image students. To complement the show is a booklet containing short excerpts of writing from the Journalism and Critical Studies students. This year’s show presents an extremely wide range of media and practices, from an immersive Roblox world built in collaboration with 200 children in Scotland and Mongolia, to an in-depth study of the archetypal ‘teen witch’. We spoke to students from all three pathways about their work, the challenges they faced in its creation, and their hopes, and fears, for their futures as fashion communicators.




Scott Bowlby 

Scott Bowlby emphasises that his work does not exist within the sphere of fashion, but rather strives to transcend the editorial and commercial fashion image. As Scott explains, central to photography’s nature is to ‘make a larger commentary’. Bowlby’s final project, entitled `A Little More Beautiful _ We would Have Something Completely Different’, comprises a collection of photographs that ‘document the subconscious of attraction’. As Scott explains, ‘this work re-evaluates the meaning of attraction with the second coming of age’. The imagery portrays a sense of fleeting awkwardness coupled with tenderness. The scenes Bowlby creates are intended to ‘feel candid but not uncontrolled’, resulting in unconventionally cropped photographs which force the viewer to study its details, and as Scott emphasises, leaves it’s viewer’s feeling implored to question ‘the brevity of youth, discovery and experimentation’.

Nicolai Chau

Nicolai Chau’s work is rooted in experimentation with surreal expressionism, which he deploys in order to discuss real-world issues such as masculinity and people’s inner spiritual world. Chau’s final project delves into his ‘ongoing battle with crafted personas’, and specifically the point at which his true self and the constructed image of himself converge, as Nicolai explains, ‘the end goal was to create an expression of my two identities’. The result is visually arresting imagery, central to which is colour, and abstraction, vibrantly expressing this sense of dual personality, alongside Nicolai’s attitudes toward masculinity. Chau’s advice for those considering MA Fashion Image? ‘Build your awareness of the industry while at school, make good use of the resources and meet students from other disciplines. Respect different opinions’.

Kayla Connors 

Kayla Connors’ photography is rooted in narrative, taking a directorial approach to her practice, something she skilfully combines with her love for fashion. As Connors explains, ‘instead of focusing on the clothes themselves’ she utilises them as a way to help draw out the narrative and to create a character rather than mannequins’. For this year’s show, Connor’s work, like many on the Fashion Image course, is rooted in its resourcefulness, ‘I can only do so much with so little’, explains Kayla. Despite the budget limitations, Kayla’s imagery is filled with an almost cinematic quality, in which the clothing takes a back seat and its narrative function is brought to life.

Tudor Covaciu

Tudor Covaciu’s styling practice is informed by everything and anything that surrounded them during their upbringing in Romania during the early/mid-noughties. As Covaciu explains, during this era in post-communist Romania, due to the huge influx of foreign influences, ‘things were ultra camp and dramatic’, they explain further, ‘intimidatingly diverse and eclectic; you would see everything on the streets and on TV, from cheesy American soap operas to colourful Bollywood productions, from post-soviet tracksuit rappers to gorgeous hyper-sexualised women with massive tits, camp nose jobs and butterfly tattoos, from fem, bearded orthodox priests wearing gold gowns to teenagers carrying fake Vuitton’s around, it was a lot’. No surprise then, that Tudor describes themself as ‘a big fat maximalist’. Their styling work is situated at the intersection of themes of nostalgia, cringe, sex, notions of taste, kitsch and internet culture. Covaciu is motivated by a genuine love of clothes, they reminisce on sifting through hundreds of designers and their work every week to create the project, ‘there is something I find almost addictive about it, very much like the feeling of digging through rails of clothes in a charity shop or flea market for hours and then finding the cuntiest, most stunning little archive piece’. Discussing the shifting role of the contemporary stylist, ‘it’s becoming obvious that most stylists have super strong visions, and they should be asked for their opinions. When you trust them, they can completely rewire a brand’s identity’.

Farid Renais Ghimas

Farid Renais Ghimas’ photography occupies a unique space between documentary style and staged fashion imagery, something Ghimas see’s as two intersecting forms. As Farid explains, ‘even If I’m making commercial work, I still try to add that layer of storytelling borrowed from my documentary approach’. For his final project, Farid has created a photo book entitled ‘Angan-Angan Harsa’, consisting of ‘a series of photographs of family and friends’ taken in the photographer’s birthplace of Bengkulu, Indonesia. Ghimas described the process of creating the book as ‘slow and challenging’. Having initially aimed for a two-week deadline, he ended up staying longer after finding his subjects took a while to cooperate, ‘I was so nervous to open up a conversation about my work, too scared they might not like it […] but things started to get better towards the end as we were slowly developing this emotional connection through the time spent together’. Ghimas’ intimate portraits present a rare tenderness and strike their viewer as strangely familiar while simultaneously deeply personal to the photographer.

Kira Issar

Kira Issar’s practice is rooted in nature, simplicity and the bodies of women and animals. Using a mix of digital and film photography, Issar seeks to draw on themes of human and nonhuman nature and ‘an eco-feminist vision’. Her final project began through her belief in connecting women, animals and the environment, all three of which she explains are ‘treated as objects, all three are domesticated, and all three are considered resources for mankind. This came to fruition through a photo book titled Medusa’s Prologue, shot between Delhi and London, in which she chronicles the connections in the oppression of women, animals and the environment and draws parallels between these oppressions through their ‘commodity status’ in the eye of the patriarchy. This results in simple, monochromatic, minimal imagery in which the delicate and vulnerable nature of the subject is highlighted.

Milli Ollerton

The act of storytelling lies at the heart of Milli Ollerton’s photographic practice, which she situates within the sphere of narrative photography, on the other hand, her filmmaking ‘sits much more within the experimental fashion genre’, Ollerton explains. For her final project, titled 13 Apples, Milli focused her lens on the transition from girlhood to womanhood. Citing the work of American photographer Anna Gaskell as an inspiration, Ollerton admires the ‘darker motives’ lying beneath the surface of Gaskell’s work. Milli explains further, ‘rather than capturing this through the stereotypical ‘coming of age’ documentary lens, I wanted to present this as a world where all protagonists are representing a single psyche and acting out their mental contradictions’. The final images, which Milli took of her sister and a group of friends, present a sense of infantile innocence juxtaposed against the ‘bittersweet’ reality of life as a 13-year-old girl. ‘The images are laced with a dark tone but there is optimism, playfulness and raw emotion shining through’, explains Milli.


Raajadharshini’s photography sits somewhere between documentary, fashion and portraiture. Something achieved through the artful exploration of fashion as a zeitgeist form, capturing ‘raw emotions, real people, communities, and human connection’, she explains. Central to Raajadharshini’s work is colour and energy, which she explains reflects her upbringing in Tamil Nadu, India. Her final project, a book titled Koothu sees Raajadharshini focus her lens on the people of Tamil Nadu, ‘their lifestyle, clothing, and culture, in an effort to anchor my community in contemporary visual culture and fashion imagery’. The process of creating the book involved her taking overnight trains every other day to photograph ‘the vibrancy and chaos of the state’. Koothu is a statement from Raajadharshini, ‘showcasing South Asia is still a small niche that barely has any authentic light to it. India is known for its manufacturing, and our artisanal textile skills are constantly exploited by big names in fashion. But our people are barely seen in the mainstream industry. The so-called ‘Indian aesthetics’ are often picked up for campaigns and models are used as tokens, but we barely see representation in the background. Very rarely are brown stories and lifestyles discussed. As the fashion world slowly evokes conversations about inclusivity and representation, I believe that now is the time to start a conversation about where I come from, Tamil Nadu, India’.

Melody Uyanga Ramsay

Melody Uyunga Ramsay’s fashion practice revolves around projects that ‘merge technology, community and education’. This plays out through a ‘focus on access equality in the arts, and meaningful ‘representation’ – by that I mean socially engaged projects that centre people on the margins of the fashion world and allow them to become story makers, not just storytellers’, Melody goes on to say, ‘I want a child in rural Mongolia to be able to access the same abundance and creative opportunities as a child in London’. And in order to achieve this Melody’s practice introduces ‘ethics to ideas around the Metaverse and Web3’. Uyanga Ramsay’s project on display is a product of her ‘working with over 200 children between 5 and 15 years old in Scotland and Mongolia’, she explains, ‘I ran fashion workshops, and then transformed their artwork into an immersive world on Roblox – that they can play in!’. When I ask how she found the process of creating this project, ‘Unimaginable utopia. Heart breaking-ly fulfilling, and the greatest lesson in asking for help’.

Saoirse Sadeghian

Saoirse Sadeghian’s practice predominantly focuses on styling and art direction, in which she sources ‘original and non-fashion related visual research’. Alongside studying for her MA, Saoirse has been working as a Junior Stylist at Burberry, she explains, ‘it’s definitely been a challenge to balance the two. I think both roles have had a huge impact on the other because I’ve been able to transfer my knowledge and experiences across the two’. On display in the Lethaby Gallery are samples of Sadeghian’s styling work, including a collaboration with artist Koko, Saoirse adds, ‘it was a new experience for me because it was all done digitally’. Looking to the future, Sadeghian plans on practising new techniques in order to progress creatively. When asked if she feels the role of the contemporary stylist is a shifting one, ‘I definitely believe that the contemporary stylist is a role which is ever changing in and developing in the industry. Moving forward I’m looking to work a lot closer with designers and brands during their initial design process, and to be on hand to advise from both an art direction and styling point of view’.

Mariam Taiwo

Mariam Taiwo’s styling practice is rooted in concept, narrative and stories. Taiwo defines her practice as styling and creative direction, which she combines to produce powerful fashion imagery. Mariam’s final project, entitled, Ile Meji, or Two Homes, ‘is a representation of being Nigerian and British’, she explains, ‘I am from two cultures but I feel like I belong in neither’. The project is about an outsider operating from within and reflects Mairam’s position as someone who feels a deep sense of in-between-ness. Taiwo sees styling as a practice in flux, ‘when it comes to my work, sometimes I like to visualise the stylist as a painter who communicates their thoughts into a canvas’. To create this body of styling work, Mariam took three trips to Nigeria, working each time with photographers and models, alongside a local milliner, who produced handmade hats designed by Taiwo.

Hung-Jui (Daniel) Tsao

Daniel Tsao’s practice is centred around creative direction, photography and film. His final project, which took the form of a film titled Spots, ‘was initially inspired by an early music video from an iconic Taiwanese rock star, Wu-Bai’, Tsao explains. The film he created sits somewhere between dream and reality, ‘as well as memories and fantasies’, according to Daniel. In its creation, Tsao strived to ‘push the limit with new concepts and techniques’, one example being the greenscreen suit which he used as a medium to express the concept of self-conscience Overall, the film seeks to ‘create an open-ended journey that creates a unique experience through the concept of self-consciousness, that seeks the definition of self-identity’.

Phoebe Wilkinson

Phoebe Wilkinson’s photography, in her own words, ‘takes traditional fashion imagery and subverts it through experimentation and distortion. Using still and moving mediums, I have explored different areas of fashion imagery such as editorial, campaign, and short film’. Like many, her work is informed by the work of other contemporary photographers; Phoebe names Carilijn Jacobs, Jack Davidson and Elizaveta Porodina. Wilkinson’s final project, Low on Spoons, ‘visually communicates my neurodivergence’, she explains, ‘using various experimental photographic techniques to represent different symptoms of dyspraxia’. Phoebe explains that the project itself aims to explore the topic of dyspraxia within the fashion context, something she described as ‘the biggest creative task I’ve tackled’.

Coco Wu 

Coco Wu’s photography is centred on the idea of the subject as a human being, most of whom she street-casts on the streets of London. ‘I rarely work with stylists on these ‘test shoots’, so people mostly just come in their own clothes and that makes part of the portrait’, explains Wu, ‘Usually we would discuss outfits beforehand but sometimes people surprise me with what they wear on the day or something extra they’ve bought along and that’s always exciting’. Coco’s images are remarkably candid, and positively tender and provide an insight into the subject beyond a surface level. ‘Through spending a bit of time with my subjects, either through walks or a short coffee break, I intend to capture the experience and connection we shared, however briefly’, Coco goes on to say, ‘Generally I am quite instinctive on shoots, but to be able to see an image twice, especially after the initial excitement is over is not the easiest’. Coco places an emphasis on physicality in her practice, shooting on film and hand printing her own images in the darkroom, ‘it’s a slower, and in some ways more delicate process in comparison to shooting on digital for sure. But it’s also more intimate, which I find rewarding’.

Reiki Zhang 

Reiki Zhang is a creator of digital fashion images, interested in rituals that take place in the digital world. Zhang’s practice aims to ‘respect tradition and break with it’ within the context of the long history of fashion imagery. The initial motivation for Reiki’s final project was this idea of a digital identity, ‘if you had your own avatar’, Reiki questions, ‘to what extent would you transform or retain your identity?’. As Zhang explains, in the digital world, there exists a much higher potential for the altering of virtual bodies and identities, alongside notions of fashionability. ‘For this project I used both real models and completely visual models, as well as mixing and matching real and virtual garments, trying to blur the boundaries between the real and digital worlds in this way’. The project seeks to imagine a future society where ‘humans and digital beings live in symbiosis, with more complex relationships and emotional needs, and how they would perform and dress in rituals’. The four rituals which develop the narrative throughout Zhang’s work are nature worship, birth, wedding and death. The project was born out of experimentation with new techniques of fashion imaging, and much of it, as Reiki explains, is a result of happy accidents, ‘if you stay in your comfort zone, the probability is that the end result will be difficult to take to the next level’, says Zhang.




Lara Grobosch

Lara Grobosch’s writing is focused on the themes of sustainability, fashion business, and emerging designers as well as the intersection between fashion and technology. However, as Lara explains, ‘during my time at CSM, I also explored the question of whether fashion journalists have any choice but to turn themselves into brands to be successful in a fast and furious digital media world’. This is what Lara focused on for her work on show at the exhibition, and something Grobosch views as a challenge facing today’s young journalists, as she explains, ‘one big challenge will be the blurred boundaries of fashion journalism and social media influencing. The digitised world has turned us all into content creators, forcing journalists to turn themselves into personalities for the public to make a name for themselves’.


Riya Jain 

Riya Jain’s fashion journalism centres around emerging Indian designers, their representation within pop culture and the current trends within the Indian market. Riya was motivated to tackle this subject due to the disconnect she felt between the caricatured and much-satirised Indian stereotype and her own realities of India. Jain explains, ‘the cities, especially Bombay, have a thriving market for homegrown fashion, artists, musicians and all sorts of creatives. There isn’t a full 180 shift yet but there is a lot of progress’. In her undertaking of the MA fashion journalism course, Riya has learnt to be resilient, ‘new city, new life and all of this away from friends and family were just too much happening too soon’, she says, ‘but I really feel like it helped me get confident in a way where I can now tell myself that if I really want it, I can make it work with or without a lot of help’.


Hitanshi Kamdar

The journalism of Hitanshi Kamdar seeks to dissect fashion phenomena through ‘a social and cultural perspective while focusing on highlighting Indian homegrown talent’. This is achieved by tapping into popular culture and examining it through a critical lens. Hitanshi explains, ‘when I moved to London, I instinctively found myself turning to my culture and heritage almost as a security blanket. The fact that South Asian voices are still trying to break into the mainstream fashion conversation is astounding and I wanted to uncover and explore topics that connected local talent to a wider world. I’ve also been interested in what shapes pop culture moments and trends in the world around us and exploring them through an involved feminist perspective seemed exciting to me’. Hitanshi, alongside many of her classmates, appreciated the course’s shift to include copywriting, describing it as ‘often more stable and lucrative’.


Kanika Talwar

Kanika Talwar’s writing focuses on the extent to which fashion criticism can be truly honest in the digital age, and whether or not there still exists a position for the fashion critic in the contemporary fashion landscape as traditional fashion media slowly dies out. ‘I look at whether there is or ever was such a thing as a ‘free fashion press’’, Talwar explains, ‘my research highlights the dangers of silencing critics who disagree’. Think Kanye’s recent evisceration of critic Gabrielle Karefa-Johnson for her critique of the recent Yeezy show, for example. Kanika continues on this point, ‘it’s a very dangerous time to be a journalist’, she stresses, ‘many journalists have been doxxed, fired, and much more for doing their job’. Reflecting on her hopes for the future, Talwar seeks to keep going. Having already been published in V Magazine, Paper, PopSugar and Fashionista, Kanika hopes that ‘more people take fashion journalism seriously’, because after all, ‘fashion is a reflection of the times we live in’.

Alice Lindsell

Alice Lindsell describes her work as focused ‘on the intersection of fashion and feminism, emerging talent in the industry, and fashion in film’. The inspiration for her writing comes from the genuine appreciation she holds for fashion, ‘I get so much joy from style and clothes and, especially since being at CSM this year, I think some of the most exciting work right now is coming from what new creatives are contributing to the industry’. Speaking of CSM, the exhibition booklet contains a short excerpt of Alice’s piece titled Style notes from CSM, which chronicles various looks observed during a morning walk through the school. In terms of fashion and film, Alice believes far little attention is paid to the topic, an often overlooked yet crucial element. Lindsell’s distaste for performative feminism within much of the fashion media has led her to seek out ‘publications and creatives that are producing critical and nuanced work’. The bubble of fashion school is often a stark contrast to the reality of the fashion journalism industry, and as Alice explains, ‘going from that to trying to get a writing job when they are so few and far between I think will be difficult’. Despite this, Lindsell reminisces on her time spent at St Martin’s, ‘All the designers and creatives I’ve interviewed this year, as well as everyone I’ve met through CSM, make me so excited to see where fashion is going next. Their work is beautiful, fresh, and innovative’.


Nina Maria

Nina Maria’s writing is focused on the ideas behind clothing, subcultures, youth, and the ‘submergence of art and fashion’. Nina explains further, ‘with clothes, I always loved how they made me feel. When I grew up, I was constantly body-shamed for my weight, but my favourite dresses always made me feel confident and beautiful, even though the world seemingly didn’t approve of them. When I write about clothes, I write about ideas and emotions. I want to know how they feel. I want to know how they shape our identity’. Looking to the future, Nina ‘would love to be a fashion critic or writer, help with research for design houses and work with organisations who support young designers’. Maria has a true adoration for clothing, and a deep passion for young and talented designers, as she explains, ‘sometimes a sketchbook can be as intimate as a diary. I love this’.


Shiphrah Lynette Parry

Shiphrah Lynette Parry’s work centres around her exploration of ‘sensibilities of life in all forms’ as she explains, ‘with a personal lens that focuses on life as a ‘luxury entity’’. For Shiphrah, the biggest challenge of being a young journalist is finding her position within the industry and crucially, not underselling herself, she continues, ‘also, a big thing is drawing a line between my personal and professional life. I always strongly believed that I didn’t want a line […] but I’ve quickly learned that the blue is not a black to be. Don’t get lost in the sauce kids’. It seems Lynette Parry is living her dream when quizzed on what excited her most for the future, ‘It’s what I dreamt of as a little girl. I made it’. Shiphrah doesn’t see herself exclusively going down the journalism path; ‘I lean heavily towards fashion marketing, PR, and lifestyle journalism’.


Eva Pramschüfer

Eva Pramschüfer’s approach to fashion journalism is centred around the telling of stories, ‘highlighting marginalised communities and coming as close to the “truth” as possible’. Having already had her words featured in Another Magazine, Vice, Elle and Wonderland, among others, Pramschüfer explains that writing ‘has always been my way to make sense of the world, when I found out that I could make it into a career, I knew that’s what I wanted to do’. As with many who take on the MA Fashion Journalism course, learning to deal with rejection is something that has become second nature to Eva, ‘pitching has felt like screaming into a void sometimes, and that can really take a toll on your confidence’, she adds. Pramschüfe’s niche within fashion journalism falls at the intersection of fashion and politics, in particular social justice topics, ‘that’s what I am passionate about’, Eva muses, ‘We are in such pivotal times and I want to be a part of the change’.


Pablo Roa

Pablo Roa’s work concerns the gay legacy of men’s fashion magazines, something that was spurred by his upbringing in Mexico City, when he would frequently visit bookstores and ‘head directly to the magazines’ section, pretend to browse kids and science titles, before reaching for the ones at the very top and back of the shelf. The gay magazines’. However Roa explains, men’s magazines, although not explicitly queer, sparked something in him, and lead him to question how masculinities are symbolically produced within the pages of these magazines, such as GQ. In the words of Roa, ‘before Abercrombie & Fitch catalogues, Calvin Klein billboards, or Ralph Lauren foldout ads, there were the pages of men’s fashion magazines. On his future in fashion writing: Roa is excited by ‘the never-ending possibilities within the industry. The closeness to the clothes. The ability to talk to designers and people working in fashion. And to keep learning. On and on’.


Melanie Solari

Melanie Solari’s journalism comprises of a mixture of articles that ‘celebrate and shed light on untold narratives and talent’, she explains further, ‘from my Angolan heritage, highlighting African and black talent, to the influence of TikTok on retail and emerging creatives who are using images to represent their communities’. Solari’s work is rooted in writing in order to reflect particular communities, highlighting talented people who have slipped under the radar of the mainstream fashion media, writing, for Melanie, is a medium she uses to showcase marginalised stories. On her hopes for the future, Melanie explains, ‘As a 22-year-old with little experience in the industry, I feel like I would need to work a lot harder to prove my worth and my talent and show people that there is a reason why I’m in the fashion industry in the first place. Also as a black journalist, I don’t want to be behind the scenes. I want to have a well-deserved seat at the table with everyone else. I don’t want to be hired and seen as the token ‘Black girl’. I want to be recognised for my ability to write good articles and not solely because I’m another Black person in the industry who looks good for companies and brands who are ‘promoting’ diversity and inclusivity. I would say that is my biggest fear’.


Alice May Stenson

For Alice May Stenson, fashion journalism is a practice rooted in the uplifting of overlooked voices and the study of subcultures that have slipped through the crack. As Stenson explains, ‘generally, I’ve never quite fitted in. I suppose I’m trying to pave the way for others who see no route ahead. I grew up in an industrial fishing town called Redcar on the North East coast, my mum used to be a punk, and my dad is a steelworker. Education was all very geared towards labour and engineering, and I was the creative kid with this boundless imagination’. During her time on the course, Alice has written about topics including her own heritage, goths and the fetishisation of punk. Alice is cautiously optimistic about the future, she notes our existence within ‘a crumbling media landscape’, yet is clearly fuelled by fashion journalism, ‘I see interviewing as a tool to pick the brains of brilliant individuals. I’m the biggest nerd going, so I want to expand my mind in all directions, and having that chance to learn excites me. Equally, writing can be used to shine a light on hidden talent. Being a stepping stone in the journey of somebody else’s success is, I would imagine, incredibly rewarding’


Tony Wilkes

Tony Wilke’s writing is rooted in the question of what it means to have a gay life. Asked why? ‘I don’t know the answer’, explains Tony. His article explains a little further, ‘gays have never been given a script so we’ve made, instead, our own way of seeing; our own passions, tastes, histories, gods, gestures, moods, our own songs’, according to Wilkes, what it means to be gay is rooted somewhere in these ‘chains of connections’, as he calls them. On his experience of the course, he was initially struck by what his course leader refers to as ‘radical candour’, but came round to it upon realising that within the real world the chances to get such brutally honest feedback on writing are extremely scarce. In terms of the challenges Tony sees for his future, aside from keeping up his art writing; ‘probably getting up early’.




Sameerah Balogun 

Sameerah Balogun’s research and writing cover the construction of blackness, as both a political and personal body, alongside its representation across fashion media. Balogun’s work also delves into the perception and performance of blackness within the diaspora. In Sameerah’s own words, her research is inspired by my own positionality as a German-Nigerian woman who grew up in a white, and heteronormative environment. Never seeing myself represented in Fashion media had an inherent influence on my self-consciousness. Through being always racialized as black in western spaces, but then considered white when in Nigeria, the diasporic struggle of identity is something which sits very deep within me’. Sameerah’s research is poignant at a time when a new vanguard of black creative practitioners forge new paths within the fashion industry. Looking to her own future, Balogun is hesitant to pigeon-hole her own practice, but as she explains, one thing is for sure; ‘wherever I end up, I will always be fighting for the social justice of my communities’.

Diamond Abdulrahim

According to Diamond Abdulrahim, ‘fashion isn’t just about clothes, celebrities, brands or designers. It’s a lens to think about culture through’. Diamond’s research, entitled Mending at The Margins, explores the work of the local businesses in her corner of North West London. The thesis is that, as Diamond explains, ‘our conception of fashion work is in dire need of repair’. Abdulrahim, who has a background in social anthropology, uses high street launderettes that often have alteration services, shoe repairs and even key cutting, as an example, and from this decision that the study would ‘focus more on ideas around repairing in contemporary culture’, she explains, ‘it asks us to think about why these kinds of businesses and skilled trades helmed by predominantly immigrant entrepreneurs are relegated to the margins of a wider fashion and textile industry’. This framing of the repair of garments as an act of (re)making positions their work as a form of contemporary craftsmanship. Diamond’s research intends to serve a de-colonial purpose, ‘seeking out more nuance and making space in between for those voices silenced in fashion scholarship’.


Pia Benthien

Pia Benthien’s research centres on style cultures, specifically within the sci-fi genre of cyberpunk, and how these style cultures reflect the aesthetics of late-stage capitalism. Pia explains, ‘Ideas like the ‘heroic’ American cowboy, techno-orientalism, and cyberspace as a metaphor for freedom help me better understand the value systems embedded into Western cyberpunk. I also look at post-war identities, cyborgs, and questions of victimhood and agency in Japanese anime films, and relate these ideas back to posthuman theory’. Having now started work as a technology editor for a major trend forecasting agency, Pia muses on the difficulties of navigating the murky world of fashion writing and research, ‘The most pressing issue is the rising cost of living and the fact that writing jobs are abysmally underpaid. ‘Making it’ in fashion too frequently comes down to being wealthy and a bit of good old-fashioned nepotism, which is why so much content today looks and feels so boring. If we want the fashion communication industry to have any criticality or diversity at all, we need to work much harder at making it inclusive. Fashion’s creative future is at stake’.


Gabrielle Valda Colas 

Gabrielle Valda Colas is a researcher particularly interested in the sustainability and consumption of fashion. Specifically, for her MA Fashion Critical Studies dissertation, titled, The Myth of the Sustainable Second Hand Economy, Colas ethnographically studied two charity shops: one in Camden, and another in Chelsea. Gabrielle explains: ‘For three months, I studied how various actors interacted with clothing, observing processes of categorisation, merchandising, attribution of value, and commodification of second-hand fashion. I argue that in today’s capitalist fashion system, charity shops serve as a palatable buffer zone for our overconsumption’. Looking to the future, Gabrielle seeks to travel in order to learn more about her own heritage, utilising fashion research as the medium through which to achieve this, but also, to return home to Paris. Colas explains that she seeks to ‘create a little bit of havoc in the industry […] I want to work with other creatives in creating movement and opening up discussions on inclusivity and sustainability in fashion’.


Carmen Baniandrés Gómez

Carmen Baniandrés Gómez’s fashion research centres around a video of Spanish fashion designer Miguel Adrover, who is filmed sitting in a bathtub, wearing a Burqa during an interview. As Carmen explains, ‘While from his point of view, he is using the garment as a medium of fashion communication, by removing any “religious” or “social” connotations, he continues to perpetuate a historical tradition of Western authorship towards the considered Oriental, particularly in the field of fashion’. Carmen questions the multi-faceted complexity of the video through the lens of feminism and decolonisation, connecting the clip to the field of Spanish fashion studies, ‘by expanding the parameters of the research that connect the Muslim veil and the national one, the mantilla’. Looking to the future, ‘I would love to be able to work on a job where I could continue to research and write, growing intellectually, but at the same time still be in touch with the creative side of the industry’. For Carmen, research is fundamental to any job, she emphasises the importance of possessing a ‘profound knowledge’ of your field, ‘today’s world is very fast-paced, and research and writing do take time if you do it well’, explains Carmen.


Charlotte Ballard

Charlotte Ballard’s research practice focuses on the misalignment between fashion brand’s communication of corporate social responsibility and their true actions. Ballard pins this down to the notion of ‘purpose’ that is spouted frequently by many brands, which she argues ‘fails to acknowledge the colonial roots and capitalist nature of the fashion industry’. Charlotte’s research proposes that ‘the current notion of ‘purpose’ is in fact ‘purpose-washing’, a phenomenon reminiscent of green-washing’. Effectively, Ballard’s study ‘dissects the historic events and academic contributions that have led to the conceptualization of ‘purpose’ as an approach to the communication of corporate social responsibility’. Charlotte has achieved this through a critical analysis of the cultural impact of brands’ use of ‘purpose driven strategies’. This study fills a significant gap in previous research, particularly within business studies, within which Ballard argues ‘the cultural implications of practices are never considered or discussed’. Looking ahead, Ballard is hopeful for a future in sustainable business development, ‘helping the fashion industry to become more ethical and sustainable’.

Yaska Sahara 

Yaska Sahara’s research explores cultural heritage through the fashioning of the Romani female body and its depictions, ‘how communal historical memory is expressed through fashioning the self’, she explains. Sahara decided to focus on women, due to their representation as cultural symbols, and particularly Roma women due to their existence as a nomadic community, ‘I was curious to see how fashion evolved when you live outside of conventional ideas of belonging, space and time’, explains Yaska, rethinking these notions of space, time and political belonging leads us to rethink our study of fashion, she argues. This distances fashion studies from the ‘western imperialist conception of the nation-state’, and towards what Sahara refers to as a ‘communal historical self-understanding’. In the future, Yaska hopes to work in curation within both museums and galleries, whilst also researching and continuing to write around the world.


Kiera McMillan

Kiera McMillan’s research concerns the analysis of the barriers to success for young working-class people within contemporary creative industries. Explaining her research process, ‘I interviewed working-class students at Central Saint Martins as well as three industry professionals including writer, artist and designer Osman Yousefzada, about their experiences in the industry, revealing how the art school space itself reinforces hierarchies associated with middle-class ‘taste’’. Kiera views the fashion industry and its systematic inequalities as ‘a microcosm for wider British society’. The research as a whole exists as ‘a platform for the working class experience to be told, not just in a way that focuses on the negatives but also the positives’, explains Kiera. As a result of her research, Kiera knows better than most the cost of ‘making it’ in the fashion industry, ‘I think it’s going to be really hard to find a job I love in fashion that also pays a decent amount of money. There are so many talented people out there who don’t work in fashion because they can’t afford to work for free interning and gaining that experience’.


Lucy Olsen

Lucy Olsen’s writing centres around exhibiting fashion and the process of fashion curation, drawing on phenomenological research methods in order to gain a wider understanding of fashion as an embodied experience. According to Olsen, the fashion exhibition ‘proliferates fashion on display as a visual mode of storytelling: a spectacle’, one that is uncovered through Lucy’s research. ‘My dissertation unveils useful curatorial methods that work to give fashion a more sensory understanding within exhibitions’, Lucy explains, ‘the main premise of my research was to highlight the ways in which the body has been substituted within exhibition displays and address the success of these methods’. Fashion curation, to Lucy, represents an increasingly important form of communication, ‘this allowed me to investigate the ways in which fashion can be understood as an embodied experience’. Like many of her coursemates, Olsen seeks to continue researching the future, in particular the intersection of art and fashion and how this relates to the wider industry.


Isabella Frascina Weston

Isabella Frascina Weston’s work is rooted in the concept of The Fashion Corpse, and ‘how and why, particularly women, are often portrayed in traumatic and morbid, yet romanticised situations; explicitly within western Fashion culture’, as Isabella explains. Isabella was initially struck by the story of Evelyn McHale, who committed suicide by jumping from the Empire State Building, and someone regularly referenced by the culture industries. ‘I explore death and the corpse’s relation to Fashion in an attempt to show how both exist almost in a state of duality; using Fashion imagery as my main source of research, I view it as a medium which is also implicated in this relationship. Isabella’s research project is titled: The Fashion Corpse: Romanticised depictions of Female Frailty. Within this she takes ‘a feminist perspective on how Fashion utilises and manages these images, ultimately arguing it is done in an attempt to control the unpredictable nature of human mortality and aestheticise the ‘taboo’ in a way which confronts societal anxiety and reflects desire, in metaphorical and symbolic ways’. Looking to the future, ‘I feel like one of the hardest things to navigate is the industry in general. It’s so vast that it can be difficult to see where and how you can fit in it,’ Isabella continues, ‘I think the unpredictability and instability of the industry, although exciting, can be really difficult to navigate’.