Posted Wednesday 18 June 2014
She's long been revered as a doyenne of British fashion journalism. Now former Daily Telegraph fashion director Hilary Alexander has unwittingly inspired a colourful origami-themed Kingston University knitwear collection that took Graduate Fashion Week by storm earlier this month.
BA(Hons) Fashion student Camille Hardwick, who received a plethora of plaudits and was shortlisted for the coveted Stuart Peters Visionary Knitwear award at the annual fashion showcase, said the inspiration came to her while researching for her final year dissertation. "I was reading a quote from Hilary Alexander in which she said sustainable fashion was an oxymoron and I thought that would be a brilliant figure of speech to base my collection on," she explained. "I started thinking more about contradictory terms such as round corners, fake shadows and deliberate mistakes and decided I'd use them as the basis of my designs."
The 22 year old from Sheffield settled on vibrant shades of sunset orange and hot fuchsia for her striking range of sophisticated womenswear. She combined the summer-coloured wool with transparent nylon and aqua green wire and finished her looks with a trim of pillarbox red angora to create the illusion of the tops, skirts and dresses in the range floating down the catwalk.
The young designer, whose graduate collection was sponsored by Derbyshire-based knitwear company John Smedley, also used laser cut Perspex letters from the word oxymoron in florescent red and frosted aqua blue interwoven into her garments. "It was a challenge to pull the different elements together for each look because the materials were quite delicate and I was working with translucent nylon. But I was determined to find the best way to create just the right effect," she said.
Camille was one of 21 Kingston University students who unveiled their latest designs on the Graduate Fashion Week catwalk at The Old Truman Brewery earlier this month. Associate professor Samantha Elliott praised Camille for successfully experimenting with colour, developing exciting stitch structures and embracing unusual yarns in her collection. "She combined these factors to create exceptional garments that move with and stand away from the body," she said. "Camille has displayed tremendous talent throughout her studies and I'm sure she will go on to be a great ambassador for Kingston University's Fashion Department as she launches her career."
Camille hopes her Graduate Fashion Week collection will encourage people to see the age-old craft of knitwear in a fresh light. She has created such an impression with her work that she is now getting set to unveil some of her pieces at international competition Feel The Yarn, part of major knitwear event Pitti Immagine Filati being held in Florence in early July.
Meanwhile, Camille's creativity has also been catching the eye of fashion-conscious festival-goers, with a loose fitting silk dress she designed flying off the rails at leading retailer Urban Outfitters. The boho print garment was inspired by the mask dancers of the Dogon Tribe in Mali and saw her named one of the winners of the Arts Thread and Urban Outfitters' Make It Design competition. "I wanted my dress to convey the vibrancy and excitement seen in festivals around the world and the way music and dance often combine to connect people to nature at the same time. I was particularly keen to capture the rhythm, the beat and the freedom for people to express themselves in the open air," she explained. The dress, which is available to buy on the retailer's website, has even been attracting the attention of shoppers Stateside, where it has been stocked in stores in a number of cities including Philadelphia, New York and Washington.
Fresh from that experience, Camille now has her sights set on securing a job at an established brand. "I've got so much out of my time studying at Kingston University," she said. "My lecturers have all pushed me to go that extra mile and really encouraged me to think outside the box to come up with original ideas which has given me the perfect grounding for a career designing for the commercial world."