Posted Thursday 6 June 2019
The House of Lords was given a fresh injection of style when Kingston School of Art fashion designers unveiled their final collections in a catwalk show blending colour, style and innovative ideas. A total of 19 BA (Hons) Fashion students showcased their final year collections to an audience packed with industry experts at the home of the United Kingdom Parliament's second chamber within the dramatic environs of the Palace of Westminster, now a Unesco World Heritage Site.
One student whose eye-catching garments have already been making an impact on the fashion world is 23 year old Victoria Lyons. Her collection is a collage of inspirations – drawing from patchwork quilts to singer Van Morrison and her time in the Belgian city of Antwerp, incorporating themes of hand painting and architectural design with the latest digital print processes.
Explosions of colour dominate the collection, with Victoria's bold brush strokes painted directly on to her fabrics. Blue, purple, red, green and orange tones cascade across and flow through the billowing undulating material, which is designed to fall naturally to the floor. Victoria incorporated digitally printed garments and hand-painted statement pieces with each garment given a foundation in black to act as a striking contrast and unify the collection.
Going abroad to study for a year before returning to Kingston University's School of Art to complete her degree, Victoria found herself invigorated and inspired to take her designs in a new direction as she assembled her final collection.
"In Berlin the practice was very focused on the concept behind the collection, it helped me to realise I wanted to communicate art within my fashion design – I have really tried to understand how colours work together," the young designer from Omagh in Northern Ireland said.
"I didn't know anything about Antwerp before going there – it's a small hub of artists and fashion houses, a city with so much culture. Every time I went out I would see interesting people really thinking about what they were wearing, which had a massive impact on the way I thought about fashion design."
Having won a prestigious prize with the British Fashion Council this year, when she picked up a British Library award as part of a research collaboration with designer Nabil Nayal, Victoria was able to put the prize money towards her collection. "I wanted to celebrate craft and our creativity. We don't have to outsource fabric or someone else's print, we can produce it ourselves," she said. "My aunt made me a patchwork quilt when I was away – it's a huge undertaking, incorporating pieces of fabric from some of my old t-shirts, a tote bag I'd used and something from my school. It meant so much to me and was hugely inspirational."
Everything in Victoria's collection is made from her own material, except for one fabric sponsored by Irish weaving company MaGee 1866.
"It's a mixture of digital printing and hand painting – getting the actual fabric and transforming it with paint, making the fabric react in different ways. I wanted to play with the eye, producing both hand-painted and digitally printed hand paintings, blurring the lines between them so the question becomes, is it painted or is it in the fabric?"
Every part of Victoria's life over the past three years has fed in to elements of the collection, including Blobitecture, a post-modern architectural style characterised by curved and rounded building shapes, and a confident, powerful female character she has created inspired by the Van Morrison song Gypsy.
Her looks include a boldly powerful blazer and a hand knit dress featuring a hand drawn image of a leaf, digitally processed then turned into a hand knit pattern. "The pieces all have large, oversized shoulders and feature huge brush strokes," she said. "I like to create clothes that can be seen as wearable works of art, garments that ooze my interpretation of beauty and empower and inspire the people wearing each piece."
Victoria scooped the Tatler Couture Award in a ceremony hosted following the catwalk show at the House of Lords. Fellow future fashion graduates were also lauded with Megan Greenfield winning the ASOS Portfolio Award, Nandita Shah picking up the Priority Pass Travel and Leisure Award and Margaret Sam collected the White Stuff Considered Design Award.