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Lights, Camera, Fashion!

Reviewing the runway of Central Saint Martin’s BA Fashion Grad Show

Madonna was the name on everyone’s lips at Central Saint Martins last week ever since she swung by to watch the BA Graduate show. The pandemic was a hard time for fashion students, with the degree show of 2021 coming under fire for being the only showcase to go ahead despite coronavirus restrictions. Crammed shoulder-to-shoulder hoards of guests filled The Street to watch over 300 models strut, pose and occasionally trip down the two-tier catwalk. Many students could also be seen huddled in classrooms and on the bridge, anxious to catch even a glimpse. The star-studded invitees included FKA Twigs, Susie Bubble, Natasha Zinko, Will Young, Cambell Addy and, of course, the fashionably late Madonna. Writing about the show for Vogue Runway, Sarah Mower wrote that:

There have been years when the students of CSM have put forth inescapably dystopian visions. This was definitely not one of them. Instead, this cohort seems united as a group who make solutions, who’ve prevailed through vulnerability and tough times, depending only on their own inventiveness, paths of self-discovery, and the friendships they made at college.

A stellar line-up of 115 students were given just 3 looks each to represent their final collections and for the chance to be named the L’Oréal Professional Young Talent Award prize winner of 2022. Previous winners include renowned designers Grace Wales-Bonner, Goom Heo and Richard Quinn, however Alice Morrell-Evans (right and above) snatched the crown this year. The winner, graduating from BA Fashion Knitwear, transformed the possibilities of knitwear and crochet into complex, high-fashion ensembles. Selected by judges of industry professionals, the panel included names like Imran Amed, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of The Business of Fashion and Sarah Gresty, Course Leader BA Fashion Central Saint Martins, who commented that “Unity and togetherness are at the core of the BA fashion show 2022.” Runners up Emil Dernbach (middle) and Diana Strang (left) stunned with his sculptural metal piece, contrasted by bursts of blue, and her use of creative layering and pattern mixing.

Many of the graduate collections focused on addressing global affairs. Tapping into issues ranging from abortion laws and sustainability to war and sexuality, no stone was left unturned by the wide-eyed bunch. Designers also showed commitment to diversity in their delightful casting. Models were varied in height, skin tone, body type, ability and age. One student even incorporated a zimmer-frame into her design. This nod to inclusion signals a glimmer of hope for the future of fashion. TJ Sidhu stated in The Face that: "When it comes to emerging designers, this ethos produces truly meaningful work that brings us hope in times of recession, war and disturbing political policies."

One collection that created quite the buzz was that of Chinese-born designer Jingyi Xie whose bold and playful theme really stood out. Reflecting on the idea behind her work, Xie describes that she was struggling to choose between her passions for music and fashion. Xie had always wondered what life would be like if she had chosen a career in the music industry and this theme allowed her imagination to bloom. “I imagine my parallel universe self would be a cool rock star or something” she said, “so basically I decided to design a collection for her to wear on the stage of her world tour”. Her inspiration for the bright, whirlwind of colour sprang from the floral Yunnan province. The young dreamer found herself infatuated with the cultures and costumes; “I grew up there and been heavily influenced by it” she continues, “so I have been making all kinds of colourful flower themed looks through out my CSM BA journey”. Sowing a great impression on the runway, a great career blossoms Xie in her future MA.

Watch the full show here:

Click on this gallery for my personal highlights:


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