Moths, machines and the faded façades of Tuscan cities – fashion students at Edinburgh College of Art take inspiration where they find it. Now we showcase catwalk creations from the final collections of eight stars of the future – you saw them here first. By Janet Christie
COLIN OLIPHANT, 25, Kilmarnock
More or Less
Inspired by the imagery of Aberdeen artist Jessica Argo and using idiosyncratic handmade lines, Oliphant’s work is about silhouette and textural contrasts. An internship with Stewart Christie & Co tailors gave him an insight into cutting techniques and how to give garments shape. “I was always interested in tailoring, and my work is about stripping it down and giving it a modern edge. So they’re traditionally formed on the inside, but given a new silhouette, from theatrical to minimal.”
Oliphant has designed the debut ladies’ rainwear collection for Hancock 1843, a new Scottish outwear and luggage label from former Mackintosh MD Daniel Dunko, after winning a competition the brand ran with Edinburgh College of Art. “I’m going to Japan in August to launch it, which is really exciting. It seems bizarre that I already have a collection in production. And I’m getting a credit on the labels, which is brilliant.”
FARAH SAFFARI, 23, Edinburgh
Knitwear mixed with tailoring is Saffari’s current love, and her beautiful knitted outfit reflects her desire to mix soft wearable garments with structural pieces. Precise knitted sections are merged with fragile woven silks worn underneath, so that the colours are muted and subtle under pure, clean colours.
An internship with the princes of Print and Structure, Peter Pilotto and his partner Christopher de Vos, whose clothes are worn by the likes of Sienna Miller and Claudia Schiffer, gave Saffari the opportunity to explore ways of using colour and texture. “I don’t do a lot of prints but I see myself as a surface designer too, and it was interesting to see their digital work with different fabrics.”
Moving to London in September, Saffari is resigned to leaving her native Scotland to find work. “I’d love to stay here if we had more of a fashion industry, but the jobs are specific to the fashion capitals.”
KATARZYNA KRZYWANIA, 27, Krakow, Poland
Krzywania arrived at fashion on her mountain bike, and she claims you can cycle in anything – although her degree-show creation might raise a few eyebrows on the open road.
The transport theme doesn’t stop there. Look closely and you’ll see shapes influenced by car engines and machinery. The leggings, padded with rubber material that is used for orthopaedic patients, are eminently practical and have high-visibility colours and finishes, while the dress comes with a hood, vents and waterproof coating. “I like sportswear and practical gear, knee and shin pads, and you can use it in different thicknesses to create a texture and silhouette,” she says. “This is a one-off but my collection is about practical clothes that look as good on the cycle to work as in it.”
With work experience for Alexander McQueen, Zandra Rhodes and Firetrap under her belt, and no shortage of energy for sportswear products, Krzwania is assured of a bright, shiny, future.
EMMA HARDSTAFF, 21, Belfast
Hessian and fur fabric might not sound appealing to luxury-lovers, but they’ll change their tune when they see what Hardstaff does with them. Adding fluffy flock to hessian and silky gauze to the fur, which is then quilted, she turns sows’ ears into silk purses with her coating and flocking techniques. “I like taking plain fabrics to the high end of couture. It’s fun. Cheap fake fur can be luxurious if you add other elements and manipulate it. You wouldn’t know what it is and nothing is as it seems, so it gives the wearer an air of intrigue.”
Off to do a masters degree in womenswear at the RCA in London, Hardstaff hopes to land a job in a company where she can play a part, having tasted life at the sharp end of the needle preparing the Marc Jacobs runway shows in New York last summer. “At the last minute, all of the interns were sewing away right up to the end. It was intense, amazing, spectacular.”
JACOB BIRGE, 28, central Poland
“Medical shoe fabric, or the stuff used for those bags you get from the dry cleaners,” says Birge, were the starting point for his futuristic construction. Oh, and moths, equations and music. “I made six mathematical equations, put them into a computer programme to create midi notes and took a picture of that, which became the silhouette. So it’s the physical representation of an equation. The same equation also became a piece of music.
“Plus, I studied moths the year before, so the colours and cocoon came from that,” adds the young Pole, whose future options include going to London’s Central St Martins or staying in Scotland to create his own business.
Birge wanted to create a wearable hybrid between human and machine with structure but not bulk. And the music from the equations? Birge has turned it into the show’s soundtrack.
LOUISE BENNETTS, 22, London
Bennetts’ inspiration is drawn from the Italian city of Siena, where she travelled last summer. The faded ochre and pinks façades of the walled city’s buildings have found their way into the coloured layers of her creations, with a bit of added punch for the catwalk. “The city can’t grow outwards so it has adapted, and I wanted that feeling – with clothes that are adaptable and not static. That’s the way people wear clothes.”
Using transparencies and organza, she creates layers that can be assembled in different way, depending on the imagination of the wearer. Shoulderpads, half-linings and seams are on display, while little concrete blocks are used as jewellery.
Inspired by Hussein Chalayan and Yamamoto, Bennetts is bound for the Royal College of Art in London to do a masters degree in womenswear next year. “I see my future as part of a design team,” she says, “and I’ll see where that takes me and who I meet along the way. I’m prepared for an unpredictable future.”
RIONA HORROX, 21 London
Sub-cultures have always proved alluring for Horrox, and her fascination with groups such as skinheads feeds into her designs. “I’m interested in the way they created a personality for themselves and went for iconic garments. On the one hand, there were violent elements, but they cared very much about whether there was a pleat on a lapel or how many buttons were on a Crombie. I also introduce elements of New York urban style to the older English influences, and I guess you could call the mix urban skater, hip-hop casual.”
At the same time, Horrox is keen to emphasis that the execution must be of the highest quality, as well as the fabrics and stitching – an attitude she hopes will take her far in her chosen field of menswear, which she will study at the RCA next year. “I’d love to dress Sam Riley, who does the Burberry ads, or Paul Bettany. Or even Jonathan Ross. Menswear shouldn’t be all stiff and serious. There’s a fun side too.”
RAJ MISTRY, 22, London
Idolise the fool, let reality kill the hero
A childhood watching Power Rangers and Transformers led Mistry to comic books and designs influenced by superhero art. Admitting he lives in a fantasy world, he says, “It’s a great escape from reality and stress.”
His creations, however, are eminently practical and designed to suit a more mundane environment, although the superhero elements are there in the big shoulders, tight legs and tool-belt pocket outline. “For the colours, I didn’t want to go too comicy, with stars and stripes, but kept it more edgy and urban, using lime greens and purples.”
His favourite superheroes will no doubt go with him when he enrols at the Royal College of Art and on into the fashion industry.
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