Northumbria University is one of the leading educational establishments for Fashion Design outside of London and 2015 marks the Fashion departments 60th anniversary. That’s right, they’ve been churning out successful Fashion Designers and Promoters for 60 years. Because of this, in place of the usual Newcastle Fashion Week fixture, NE1 have planned an event dubbed Fashion Futures to showcase the work of the current crop of graduates from the university.
Northumbria University’s BA (Hons) fashion programme is renowned for the calibre of its business-ready and media-savvy graduates, with 97% of students in full time employment within six months of graduating, some of whom are now big names in the world of fashion.
I was invited along to FASHION, a Textile Collections Exhibition and runway show at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art; The runway show marks the beginning of the 2015 graduate presentation, the collections included have been in development for months prior. Each student is showing a small collection of either three of five looks in either Menswear or Womenswear, and other textile work is on static display for the duration of the Fashion Futures event. I wanted to make an impression so I threw on some Topshop Unique leather culottes with a black & Other Stories tank and a fringed suede jacket.
A colossal 57 students / Designers from Northumbria University’s past and present showcased their collections at FASHION, each using professional models and their own chosen soundtrack. From conceptual and minimalistic to wacky and fun, FASHION has it all. One thing that shines through during the runway show is the individuality of each student, there’s nothing generic about this fashion presentation, each designer has brought their own personality to their collection, it’s all very diverse and very exciting.
The show opens with Sophie Dring, who shows a clean cut, Victoria Beckham inspired collection of five pieces. It’s contemporary but very wearable and I’m instantly scribbling her name in my pad as someone to watch. We’re off to a good start….
The whole show is a slick and well put together affair, far superior to what we’ve seen in previous years from Newcastle Fashion Week, (kudos to NE1) and the auditorium set up gives the entire audience the chance to get a great view of each collection.
It’s quickly apparent that we have a huge spectrum of talent in the North East, considering that some of these collections have gone from conception to completion by undergraduate students, it’s amazing to see how much these students have achieved in that short time, and how each Designer has managed to portray a running theme through each piece comprising their mini collection. There is some real standout design talent amongst the running order, for example Charlotte Byrne, showing a collection which wouldn’t look out of place in an alexander Wang runway show, models were sent down the runway in a hybrid of ski goggles and welder masks.
Fei Fei Chen showed a collection with more than a nod to the military trend and with a touch of hunter chic thrown in for good measure, the craftsmanship in this collection is exquisite.
It’s clear that each student has paid attention to fashion trends and manufacturing techniques past and present, and it’s easy to see where they pick up their influence. During their time at University, they’re deciding what kind of Designer they want to be and by the time they’ve created their final collections, whether they’ve decided or not, it’s evident that each falls into a distinct category. Hannah Chant for example shows a collection not dissimilar to the Missoni collections of the early 00’s, 70’s inspired and bohemian but with a modern twist. Jessica Bretherton shows real talent, showing a collection similar in style to Ralph Lauren, easy relaxed tailoring with an American casual vibe. Yee Ting Chan sent models down the runway wearing surgeons masks in a collection reminiscent of early Alexander McQueen, there was something raw and exciting about this collection.
Eleanor Rowlands told a story through her post apocalyptic collection, she’s surely one to watch as there were whisperings around the runway when her models glided on to the runway.
Jessica Bailey showed a fun Under the Sea themed collection with underwater scenes, pearls and pompoms, very Henry Holland or Jeremy Scott. She’s someone I could imagine dressing stars such as Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus in a few years. Olivia Pink’s collection had a hint of 60’s styling with round pocket detailing, think Raoul, but with added body armour. Both Billie Toole and Emma Cummings’ showed retro Amish style collections, Cummings showcased skirts with coloured patterns giving the effect of a deep box pleat.
In stark contrast, Rosie Hargreaves showed soft tailoring in pastel colours whilst Lucy Doyle presented an uber chic monochrome collection. By far the most wearable and commercial collection to be presented at the event came from Julia Barstow who exhibited a high street ready five piece collection of clean lines and a simple yet effective colour pallete of blue, white and orange.
With 57 Designers showing at FASHION, it would be too difficult to go through each one individually, suffice to say that there’s a diverse mix of incredible talent at Northumbria University, with each designer bringing something different to the market. From urban sportswear to vintage inspired tailoring, there’s something here for every Fashion Voyeur. Undoubtedly there are some students here who will go on to achieve great things in the fashion world, and judging by some of the work on display this evening, there are a definite select few who have the talent and individuality to go on to create and run their own successful labels.
From this runway show, twenty-five students will be selected to show their collections as part of the industry runway show at Graduate Fashion Week in London on may 31st. The design portfolios of these students will be available for viewing on the Graduate Fashion Week stand from May 30th - June 2nd before returning to Newcastle to be shown as part of the Degree Show REVEAL at Northumbria University’s City Campus from June 16th - 27th.
If you love fashion, I’d strongly recommend you visit the University Campus to view the collections, after all, the next big thing could be amongst that crop of students, right here in Newcastle….
For more information on the Fashion programme at Northumbria University, please click here.
The collections shown at FASHION can be viewed below: