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Graduates make Vauxhall Fashion Scout debut

Posted Friday 18 September 2009

The Digital Draping project was a key part of course work completed by Kingston University MA Fashion students. Image: Ellie LaycockThe first students to graduate from Kingston University's new MA in Fashion have showcased their work at one of the country's top events for emerging talent. Rachel Lamb and Niamh O'Connorl unveiled their major projects at Vauxhall Fashion Scout, which was staged to promote fledgling designers during London Fashion Week. 

The rising stars' collections formed the centrepiece of Kingston University's Body Lab, one of the highlights of Vauxhall Fashion Scout's opening day activities on Friday September 18. The event attracted a bevy of buyers, industry experts and journalists from around the globe.

Rachel's collection, The Skin I Am In, drew on her Celtic heritage, mixing a blush colour palette with flowing silk jersey fabrics, structured leather pieces and corsetry. It also included distinctive draping introduced to symbolise wrinkles formed during the aging process. Niamh meanwhile took the inspiration for her line-up of sports couture, simply titled NOC, from a game of musical statues and her fascination with everyday human movement, mannerisms and expressions. Her garments featured exaggerated shaping to highlight the silhouettes created by different poses complemented by a kaleidoscope of colourful print.

Kingston University MA Fashion graduate Niamh O'Connor has drawn on her fascination with everyday human movement, mannerisms and expressions for her range of sports couture. Image: Roberto Da SilvaWith a strong emphasis on exploring new ways of creating clothing using the latest advances in science, engineering and technology, Kingston's MA programme has been praised for pushing the parameters of fashion education since its launch. Being the only University invited to take part in such a prestigious event as Vauxhall Fashion Scout was an enormous vote of confidence in what the University had achieved during the MA's first year, course director Nancy Tilbury said. "Kingston University has always had a wonderful reputation for silhouette, construction and finish. I'm determined to carry on that proud tradition while at the same time challenging our postgraduate fashion students to think more progressively," she said. "Fashion is a real barometer of our times and the role of the designer is evolving at a rapid pace. We are committed to producing contemporary collections that reflect the momentum of this change through key industry links with science and technology brands."

Kingston's MA Fashion programme has already earned a stream of plaudits from across the sector. Clive van Heerden, senior director for Philips Design, has praised it for filling a major gap in fashion and textile education in the United Kingdom and Europe by coupling original thinking with cutting edge design. Philippa Wagner, materials innovation consultant for leading style forecaster WGSN, has also commended the course for blending insightful design with an awareness of future thinking. "Encompassing the greater understanding that our clothes are not just about aesthetics, but embracing some of the early understanding of clothing - for protection, warmth, comfort, tribal belonging and as a second skin, Kingston University's MA offers a platform for students to experiment, direct and, most importantly, innovate," she said.

Other highlights of Kingston's Vauxhall Fashion Scout premiere included an opportunity for the Kingston University MA Fashion graduate Niamh O'Connor has drawn on her fascination with everyday human movement, mannerisms and expressions for her range of sports couture. Image: Roberto Da Silvaindustry élite to preview the Signature collection, developed by the MA's next intake of 16 students. Projections of course work, in which the first crop of graduates explored digital draping and the use of light and technology as an extension of the creative cutting process, beamed on to the walls of Kingston's Body Lab.

Vauxhall Fashion Scout director Martyn Roberts said he was delighted Kingston University had joined the event in its brand new venue in central London's Freemasons' Hall. "The past few years have seen Kingston produce some truly great talent and we firmly believe that, with the development of this MA presentation, the University will grow to become one of the main focal points for emerging talent within London Fashion Week," he said.

Kingston University is widely regarded as one of the United Kingdom's foremost centres for fashion education. Graduates from its BA (Hons) course have gone on to senior posts in a range of leading labels including Armani, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Gap, Givenchy, Karen Millen, MaxMara, Missoni, Paul Smith, Ralph Lauren, Vivienne Westwood and Yves Saint Laurent.

  • The Body Lab was held in The Presentation Room, Freemasons' Hall, 60 Great Queen Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2B 5AZ. For more information, please visit

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