Review: GFW

As a GFW first-timer but a FW fan girl, I was highly hyped to lose my Graduate Fashion Week V-plates, but unlike London’s twice annual fashion festival, I had not a clue what to expect. 

Graduate Fashion Week was created courtesy of Jeff Banks and in its twenty-one-year reign has given rise to the pioneers who have established Burberry, Stella McCartney, Giles Deacon and Matthew Williamson as we know them today. I slapped on my best fashion girl face and headed to Earl’s Court to discover what was causing the GFW hash tag Twitter hype.

I bumbled around the forty universities’ stands, noting and photographing anything that caught my eye (read: basically, everything). I was astounded by the epic display of raw talent that consumed the four walls of Earl’s Court Two. These kids had thought of everything: from the stand itself to their individual business cards – all were impeccably designed.

Already impressed, I pulled up a SCROW seat at UCA Rochester’s evening showcase and in an instance I was reminded why I am such an unashamed fashion fan girl.

I pin-pointed my favourite collection and made a physical note of its owner’s name promising I would hunt him down the next day.

Not one for breaking promises, endeavouring to speak to Callum Burman was promoted to top of my to-do list. When I did find him, he’d been told he had made it to the Gala awards shortlist. I congratulate him and wish him massive good lucks as he tells me he would no doubt be up all night perfecting his portfolio.

Callum tells me his final project, entitled The Vice Collection, was inspired by his DJ days and 80’s hit TV show Miami Vice. Cropped shirts, city shorts and oversized blazers were sharply cut but loosely fit and rendered in colour schemes akin to Miami Beach’s Art Deco. Callum had created the perfect, casual-cool, summer set for the urban gent.

I offer some more obligatory collection-congratulations and we discuss the response to last night’s show: “The one thing for me was knowing that guys would like to wear it and a lot of guys have said that they would. It is wearable as well as being a little bit different but not too out there that it’s totally crazy,” Callum muses.

Another name that stuck out on scouring the week’s press coverage was Hannah Duckworth: a name I recognised from my high school years and one that had been duly noted by the Standard as a one to watch. And watch I did. Hannah is the Westminster girl responsible for those cray cray cone hats that were plastered on every other GFW advert masquerading as an event mascot. She tells me the response to said headgear has been mixed but overall she enjoyed the ride GFW took her on. I promise this won’t be the last time you see a fashion piece peppered with her name.

The week was headlined by a highly anticipated Gala Awards show: a ceremony which saw the GFW board commend their favourite talents in every category with all variety of fashion professionals tasked with presenting the prizes. An off-her-face Daphne Guinness was a crowd pleaser as she stumbled across the stage in her standard sky-scrapers.

Aside from the shameless celeb spots Charli Cohen (Kingston) and James Walker (Epsom) stood out from the forty odd collections that were paraded before a jolly fash pack. The common denominator between the two is the functionality of their collections. Charli pushed the sportswear boundaries sending monochromed and canary yellow, muscle-defining shapes down the runway, the wearer with some form of gym equipment in tow. Meanwhile James explored the relationship between apparel and luggage, experimenting with tweed and leather to bring us an accordion dress and drummer’s jacket: creativity at its finest

But it was Chloe Jones of Bath Spa University who emerged as the biggest winner of the night – she scooped the prize for best womenswear designer AND won the prestigious Gold award – pocketing herself a generous prize cheque and unlimited mentoring from the George at ASDA team. A well-deserved winner, Chloe’s collection compiled a simple silhouette of a billowing silk sheets accessorised with bejewelled, sweatshirt hoodies and floaty skirt lengths, sometimes printed.

Having spent three evenings leisurely revelling in the raw talent offered by our country’s best fashion schools I can confidently predict that the next Christopher Bailey is hiding somewhere in this latest alumnus.

Hurry up LFW already.

Words: Helen Turnbull