London College of Fashion MA graduates Duel for attention

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LCF MA 2011: Matteo Molinari. Image: (c) Christopher Agius BurkeThe overriding mood was one of austerity, albeit with a tinge of restrained romance, at

London College of Fashion‘s ‘Duel’ MA Show 2011, held in the V&A’s rammed Raphael Gallery last night. The first stop on the post-grad fashion safari (Central St Martins follows in Feb, and RCA in June), LCF is a renowned spotting ground for future fashion – and this show was no exception.

A smattering of artsy celeb faces – Grayson Perry, Jo Wood, Marina Diamandis, among others – joined industry figures including Colin McDowell, Lee Lapthorne, Martyn Roberts (Fashion Fringe, On/Off, Vauxhall Fashion Scout respectively), David Downton, Susie Lau, Hannah Bhuiya, as well as numerous talent scouts, to take notes ones to watch. Harold Tillman arrived with the BFC’s Simon Ward, fresh from announcing Christopher Kane’s BFC/Vogue Fashion Fund win – that presentation having been brought forward half an hour to ensure they made the show.

Having elbowed our way to the bar for a glass of bubbly, we then made the most extreme journey into a catwalk show ever experienced – taking 500+ guests on a meandering route up and down stairs and through galleries of Renaissance artefact, hello, the Ware Bed – Marina Diamandis (of Marina and the Diamonds-fame) and her mini-entourage entertaining the tail end of the queue with their fashion-fabulous get-up and unexpectedly modest conversations.

LCF MA 2011: Dinu Bodiciu (image: (c) Christopher Agius Burke

Of a line-up of 22 graduates, a whopping 15 were menswear – reflecting LCF’s tailoring heritage – so unsurprisingly to see menswear designer Matteo Molinari walk away with Collection of the Year, presented by Harold Tillman for his standout, reductive collection, combining sharp, twisted tailoring and unexpected crochet.

Other personal highlights were Jennifer Morris’s heavily-fringed cacophonic colour collection – chartreuse, coral, violet, bronze – which slashed through the swatches of black, white and various neutral shades that dominated nearly every collection. Dinu Bodiciu‘s putty and red womenswear collection – for it’s boiled wool knitwear and dip-dyed tailored separates; Tim Rhys-Evans‘ jet black lace, taffeta, satin and chiffon womenswear – a vampish, dolce vita take on widows weeds; and Chang Wook ‘Jay’ Kang‘s splash prints on tailoring justaposed with polka dot tailoring for men. Fantastical horsehair and studded accessories by Oliver Ruuger complemented Jia Ju’s tailoring.

Writing in this week’s Shortlist, art critic Dr Richard Cork suggests recessions give birth to avant-garde art – young artists, keen to make an impact, create work that ‘challenges, astounds, subverts and, ultimately, enlarges our ideas about what might be possible.’ If this clutch of post-grads are anything to go by – and they should be – it seems fashion, unlike art, is taking a wholly more cautious approach; where art provides spectacle, fashion is seeks to astound in a more discreet way – through careful and intelligent attention to detail, cut, texture and layers, and creating accessible, aesthetic visions for investment rather than show.

Further details of all London College of Fashion MA graduates can be viewed online at Showtime.

The London College of Fashion MA Show runs February 2-9, 2011, from 12-7pm daily at Victoria House, Bloomsbury Square, London, WC1. Showcasing MA Fashion Artefact; MA Costume Design for Performance; MA Digital Fashion; MA Fashion & the Environment; MA Fashion Curation; MA Fashion Design Technology; Fashion Photography; Fashion Footwear.

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