Posted Wednesday 23 June 2021
A fashion undergraduate from Kingston School of Art has been awarded second place in the Christopher Bailey Collection of the Year Award at Graduate Fashion Week for her knitwear designs made from biodegradable yarns and fabrics.
The prestigious accolade celebrates the three most outstanding collections presented on the catwalk during the week-long showcase of talent from fashion schools in the UK and abroad. It is the top award to win, with first, second and third place up for grabs each year.
Darcie Hancock said her collection – called Life's a Joke –was designed to mock the society we live in today where we are constantly being monitored and tracked by surveillance systems. She also took inspiration from her fascination with clowns and her personal identity. "The idea first came to me when I was stopped at the airport and the cameras at security were unable to recognise my face due to the clown inspired makeup I was wearing. I have always been fascinated by clowns and how they distort their bodies and face for humour, and these personal experiences led me down this anti-surveillance theme," she said. "I also just wanted to bring a bit of colour into the world during what has been a difficult year. I love colour, it's a part of me and makes me happy – I wanted my work to spread joy to others," she added.
Using natural materials including raffia, wool, silk and leather, Darcie combined different shapes to distort the body and face. She made the seams the stand-out feature of each piece by covering them with hand crochet or neon threads.
One of the eight looks in her collection features a vibrant dress with more than 800 flowers that she crocheted by hand. Darcie explained how she created movement in the piece. "I used boiled wool as the base for the garments and a yarn called mohair for the crochet and ruffles. When the model walks, the boiled wool bounces but the mohair flows over the top, creating this comparison of weight and multiple layers", she said.
The 23 year old selected individuals from the LGBTQ+ community to model her collection. "As a queer woman, I wanted to make clothes that embraced the community and made them feel great," Darcie explained. "The feedback I received was incredible. All the models were so excited to wear the clothing, and many have been asking to borrow the outfits to wear to events."
Commenting on the awards, Darcie credits much of her success to the teaching and guidance of her tutors. "My tutors have always encouraged me to push myself and they really helped me bring my designs in this collection to life. Their knowledge has always been so valuable. They know exactly how to support us to develop our potential," she said.
Senior Lecturer of the Fashion BA (Hons) course, Wendy Baker, supervised Darcie's work and praised her achievements. "We are immensely proud of Darcie. Her graduate collection demonstrates innovation in her chosen discipline of fashion knitwear. She has developed and produced exciting fabrics, silhouettes, and construction techniques. This is a collection for all who love colour and are brave in their dressing," she said.
The Life's a Joke collection made it into the Graduate Fashion Week Best of 2021 Catwalk Show, alongside four other collections from Kingston School of Art.
Emily Taylor's Elegance in an Age of Crisis features chunky knits juxtaposed with lace, Ronan Flanagan's La Retraite takes inspiration from the concert pianist Glenn Gould, and Joana Santos Moreira Dias's The Pictorial Garden celebrates craft, heritage and art.
Meanwhile, Daisy Holt's Find Me in the Garden was made entirely using second-hand and vintage sourced fabrics and materials.