Posted Tuesday 20 September 2022
The creativity and craftmanship of Kingston School of Art's postgraduate fashion students was showcased at this year's London Fashion Week with more than 30 designers unveiling their graduate collections.
The garments were rolled out in a film, entitled HORIZON, which premiered on the last day of London Fashion Week, in celebration of the future journeys and careers of Kingston’s fashion graduates. The film premiere was followed by a drop-in exhibition at Gallery Different in Fitzrovia at which industry experts had the opportunity to see the designers' collections and portfolios first hand.
With a longstanding history of captivating fashion industry professionals and distinguished designers at the biannual fashion event, this year's presentation from Kingston University's Fashion MA course spotlighted a diverse range of themes, from breaking traditional gender norms in fashion to celebrating overshadowed female artists.
Among this year's cohort is Yalei Elena Feng, who is launching her brand, YEF Studio, with a menswear collection. The range features a mix of traditional feminine and masculine colours, combined with detailing including low necklines, cut-out features and slim fitting garments.
"My collection is designed to empower men to express themselves through fashion," Elena explained. "I wanted to blur the gender lines by encouraging men to feel comfortable to experiment with their style and try new things that challenge conventional standards."
Brown and black leather is a staple throughout her collection, with pink thread and delicate silver zips creating elegant detailing throughout the garments, contrasted with a pair of pink fitted leather trousers.
Another of the designers who presented their work has explored the use of texture and structure in second wave feminist art. Isabelle Tustin has taken inspiration from female artists and sculptors who were prolific in the 1960s and 70s to present a vibrant womenswear collection featuring elegant and modernist features.
Among her inspirations was sculptor Linda Benglis, who was known for mixing soft movement with solid shapes and volume and has inspired the silhouette of Isabelle's garments. While the knotted detailing featured on her garments is inspired by Eva Hesse, who experimented with unusual materials including rope and string.
"They are both classed as post-minimalist artists and were trying to break away from this masculine approach celebrated at the time, by using elaborate techniques and innovative materials in art," Isabelle, 22 from Guernsey explained. "At the time, they were overlooked by their male peers and my collection reclaims and celebrates their art through fashion by creating outfits that make the modern woman feel visible, strong and empowered."
Isabelle used a range of fabrics including cotton moire, a textile with a rippled appearance, alongside silk, to create movement and add texture to her one-piece garments. Her collection features bold, bright colours, inspired by painter Lee Krasner.
A further highlight among this year's collections is Zhen Tian, whose womenswear collection took inspiration from the lightweight and tensile structures of architect Frei Otto. Zhen created transparent layers of fabric to create three-dimensional dresses which reference the geometric-like shapes of Jens J Meyer to add striking patchwork detail to her garments.
"I was fascinated by these abstract architectural structures and wanted to see how I could replicate them in my garments," Zhen, explained. "I appreciate designers who create unique garments that are wearable art and wanted to bring this through in my collection."
Zhen cut up sheer stockings into geometric shapes and attached these with carbon fibre rods to create architecturally inspired models that sit on top of the dresses. A highlight of her collection is a white silk dress covered in diamond shapes made by sewing pleats using honeycomb stitching, a knitting technique that traditionally creates hexagonal shapes.
Richard Sorger, course leader for MA Fashion praised this year's cohort for the quality of their designs. "Many of the students this year have produced contemporary garments that are beautifully constructed and desirable artefacts in their own right, which is something we encourage at Kingston School of Art," he said. "Through the creation of high-quality and timeless garments, they are contributing to the slow fashion movement by producing something that people will buy and keep for a generation."