Representing the creative future

CSM MA Fashion Image 2023: Running away from Western media narratives

This batch of fashion image graduates is creating a new visual language for fashion

The 2023 class of MA Fashion Image, the image-making pathway of the MA Fashion Communication at Central Saint Martins, is broadening the parameters of fashion image-making to better represent their richly diverse cultural backgrounds.

This year’s cohort, set to leave CSM in December, is sidestepping the narratives prescribed by Western media and crafting their own stories. Their collective body of work explores Peru in 1959, the Dnipro River in Ukraine, council estates up north, Thai restaurants and beyond. A year at CSM has facilitated artistic freedom which is encouraged by course leader Adam Murray. “We are not living in a golden age of fashion image-making in terms of what we are seeing from publications and brands,” he suggests. “That is why working in education remains a privilege. Other tutors and I get to collaborate with amazing talent while they enjoy relative creative freedom.”

We spoke to the 2023 class about their dreams, fears and influences some days before the course’s exhibition which runs from the 23rd until the 25th of November at the King’s Cross campus.

Cayetano Garcia Sahurie

For Cayetano García Sahurie, a Peruvian stylist and art director, his final project provided the opportunity to explore the intricacies of his heritage. “I narrate the complexity and beauty of Latin American diversity and history,” he says. His project vividly reimagines a pivotal moment in Latinx queer history from 1959 – the Flor de Laguna, a celebrated cross-dressing party staged in Lima that ended in a police raid. El Escándalo de La Laguna celebrates the diaspora of the queer Latinx community. Proficient in styling, art direction, and casting, Sahurie’s body of work is a true celebration of the community he has built within the fashion scope of queer Latin Americans residing in Europe. Committed to his craft, he envisions further developing “Flor de Laguna” while contributing to the flourishing Latin American artistic representation worldwide. He intends to be based in London, anchored in the city’s vibrant cultural landscape.

Billie Jane Stringer

Billie Jane Stringer, a Northern Irish photographer, draws inspiration from women who have been “unapologetically themselves,” citing figures from Romaine Brooks to Julia Fox. She uses the camera lens to celebrate female and queer bodies, stating, “The only thing each person has in common is that they are in front of my camera.” The work serves as a love letter to Stringer’s teenage self, who did not feel accurately represented by the dominant fashion landscape. The final project has been a transformative process for Stringer, as it enabled the exploration of her own queer identity. Beyond CSM, Stringer plans to develop iterations of her inclusive visual language.

Wera Nowak

Wera Nowak is a Polish photographer with a distinctly muted style through which she explores broad subjects like identity and adolescence. The result is a body of work with a haunted quality, often using genderless styling and casting her own friends. Her final project focuses on what she describes as “three main characters,” close friends of Nowak from Poland who she finds “vulnerable and androgynous in their own unique way.” Her documentarian approach allows the viewer in on what feels like intimate moments of young people exploring their identities together in settings such as abandoned houses, lakes, and fields. The combination of deeply personal motifs and her cinematic style using a film camera is a touching representation of Polish youth.

Camille Lemoine

Camille Lemoine is a British film photographer capturing the seemingly smaller moments of living in rural Scotland in her new collection of work, “Down Tower Road.” She plans to persist in her creative journey, aiming to “Explore aspects of rurality within photography” further. Reflecting on her experiences, Lemoine emphasises: “The course has helped me feel able to use my own experiences to inform my work and add something new to conversations surrounding rural spaces in photography.” While excited about the future, she acknowledges the challenges: “Opportunities within the industry are still exclusive to larger cities like London and Paris.”

Pim Tanyapa Keonil

“What would it be like if I could create my own funeral?” This is the bold artistic aim of stylist, set designer, and art director Pim Tanyapa Keonil’s innovative digital film. “The theme is mainly about seeking a sense of nostalgia at home with family and enduring Thai identity by using 3D media as a medium to create intimate but surreal moving images,” she says. Keonil’s work is rooted in her experience as a Southeast Asian woman, channelling the predominant environments of her Thai upbringing and handcrafting set designs to match the visual codes of her memories. “It starts from that plain white Buddhist coffin, and deep down, it is myself (represented as the model) surrounded by my collectables, resting peacefully with no regrets.” Keonil’s bold expression is accompanied by a series of matching images, divulging the complexities of her heritage.

Tuhin Chandra Srivastava

“Fashion is woven into the fabric of our mundane lives, and that’s what I’m passionate about documenting,” says Tuhin Chandra Srivastava, an image maker from India. Ingeniously celebrating the allure of the ordinary while dismantling the superficiality often associated with fashion, he eloquently says, “My work celebrates the beauty in mundanity and neutralises the vanity around fashion.” Reflecting on his transformative journey during the course, Srivastava highlights the shift from a competitive mindset to one of introspection and self-discovery. Embracing the joy of capturing reality’s nuanced dimensions, whether emotional or physical, Srivastava’s aesthetic is a celebration of both urban and natural environments. “What I’ve learned is that my practice revolves around the sheer joy of documenting my reality in the dimensions of time and space.”

Christopher Akintonde

“I turn my lens on people who understand the Black experience,” says Nigerian American photographer Christopher Akintonde. Using predominantly film, Akintonde explores his subjects with a tender eye, often in intimate spaces and styled by him. His body of work is a testament to the delicate and enduring relationship he has with his own community. The course has been transformative for Akintonde’s perception of his own future as an image maker. “I viewed fashion as a highly competitive space,” he says. “But leaving, I realise that producing work while staying in my lane and exploring my own experiences is more than enough.”

Cameron JJ Young

Cameron JJ Young, a British photographer and art director, finds inspiration in the juxtaposition between the beauty and mundanity of small-town life in the North West of England. He aims to counteract stereotypical portrayals of the working class in the media, expressing, “I want my work to act as a counter-argument to ‘poverty porn.'” Drawing inspiration from his own experiences and those who grew up around him, Young intends to decentralise the fashion industry in the UK from London. As the recipient of a prestigious Jane Rapley Scholarship, Young has been able to build sophisticated worlds in his work, ensuring that “every last detail, from the piece of paper on a desk to the photo in a frame in the background of a shot, means something.”

Letao Chen

Letao Chen is a Chinese-American filmmaker interested in “introspection within the online realm.” Using programs such as Unreal Engines and Blender to produce surreal video art, often turning the camera on herself, Chen explores endless possibilities and probes the boundaries of fashion filmmaking. Chen represents neglected aspects of the fashion industry. “My dream is to learn every medium possible,” she says. “The possibilities to communicate would be limitless.” Her final project is an eerie film, featuring Chen herself as the muse.

Melissa Heane

A soft-hued, nostalgic reflection on British youth is an undercurrent that runs through photographer Melissa Heane’s final project. Using film as her dominant medium, Heane cites women, narrative, and youth as the themes of her creative expression. “It’s that sort of desire to forever be 19 and at university.” Now at 24, she sees herself as an observer of the teenage dream. “I feel quite numb towards it, as though I’m more of an outsider. […] I hope to begin creating work that feels more relevant to me now.” During the course, Heane has been working as image maker Frank Lebon’s studio manager.

Maximilian Kilworth

Maximilian Kilworth positions his work as a photographer, visual researcher, and installation artist as a reimagining of queer narratives through image. As Kilworth explains, he is “creating a visual lexicon through recontextualization and reclamation.” Inspired by Carmen Winant’s transformative piece ‘My Birth,’ displayed at MoMA in 2018, his project ‘A Personal Portrait’ organically unravelled over the year, delving into personal narratives and the nature of image-making. Channelling influences from varied queer artists and thinkers like Tamotsu Yatō and Walt Whitman, Kilworth questions the essence of images, self-representation, and the complex interplay between personal identity and creative expression. This profound introspective journey culminates in a visual narrative that reflects the essence of his being and aspirations. The result is a poignant body of multidisciplinary work and research.

The Buffacow

The Buffacow is a seasoned photographer and director hailing from Hong Kong. Six years in the commercial industry prior to Central Saint Martins has ensured a polished finish to his work. However, he has used the MA to shift away from such perfection. “Over the years in Hong Kong, I had been trained to shoot too accurately. Here in CSM, I started to embrace the beauty of flaw and incompleteness,” he says. Aesthetically, The Buffacow fuses what he describes as “the Western way of seeing” with his “original Oriental aesthetic,” resulting in a final project that contrasts moody imagery with sharp and classic fashion.

Eugenia Skvarska

“I feel the profound impact of the war on me, which has ignited an even stronger desire to delve into Ukrainian culture and life in my homeland.” Eugenia Skvarska is a Ukrainian stylist and art director who uses her body of work as a voice to share her experiences with the world. “I aim to turn this challenging time into something meaningful and memorable. I take pride in the unique blend of influences and emotions that reside within me.” With a post-grad plan to build a life between London and her hometown of Kyiv, Skvarska will continue to use these visual codes of her heritage as a storytelling method. “I feel confident in who I am and why I’m here, providing a solid foundation for my own artistic journey,” she says. Her final project features powerful snapshots of her summer spent in Ukraine.


G3GE is a Chinese video director specialising in music videos. She’s inspired by Japanese cult films and Yandere culture, which revolves around the fascination of media portraying characters exhibiting initially loving and affectionate behaviour, later escalating into obsessive, even aggressive tendencies toward their love interest. This recurring motif is present across G3GE’s work as both a director and a music artist herself. “I think whether I’m making visuals or music, the process is building my own world,” she says, noting the fluid thread between her multiple artistic disciplines. After graduating, G3GE intends to release her own short EP.

Hawko Liang

Hakwo Liang, a Chinese creative director and stylist, delves into the intricacies of restraint and pressure in her final project. “I created links between the furniture that appeared in my memories in the 90s,” she says. Drawing on her experiences in China’s transformative landscape, she crafts a unique blend of past and future: “My creative style embraces a diverse cultural mix.” Her vision extends beyond fashion, seeking collaborative opportunities in stage and film. She reflects on the empowerment gained through her mentors, leading her on a journey of self-discovery. The result is a striking collection of unexpected imagery.