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Students' towering textiles take London Fashion Week by storm

Posted Wednesday 22 February 2012

A colourful 'Fashion Freak' by Kingston students Steph Smith and Rebecca Partington attracted plenty of attention during London Fashion Week.Exhibiting their latest creations at London Fashion Week can be a dream come true for even the most established of fashion designers. So a group of 18 Kingston University fashion students could hardly believe their luck when they found their work in the limelight at one of the industry's most prestigious events just a few months into the first year of their degree.

After teaming up with top British artist and designer Dr Noki, they have just showcased their work as part of London Fashion Week's Estethica exhibition. The ethical showcase, which celebrates designers who reuse, reinvent and recycle, played home to the students' creations which gave a quirky lease of life to old items of clothing.

"The starting point for the project was inspired by a book Dr Noki showed us called Not a Toy," 19-year-old student Steph Smith explained. "It was full of genderless, faceless characters which is what we wanted to create using the old clothing that we sourced."

All 55 first year students promptly set to work gathering items of clothing from attics and charity shops, grouping garments that would work together to help them create a series of towering textile creations, dubbed fashion couture monsters in Dr Noki's design brief.

"We worked in pairs taking the discarded clothes apart and then set about piecing them together into something new," fellow student Juan Torkel Spade, 22, said. "My partner Rene Bedell and I tried shredding and unravelling knit pieces, also knitting our own individual sleeves and trouser legs to incorporate into our design."

Juan Torkel Spade worked with Rene Bedell to create this towering textile piece. The design process was different to what they were used to. "I usually build something up after working with a sketch and trying out different pattern cutting techniques," Argentinean-born Juan said.

The students' even had the chance to bring some of their creations to life in a film screened during London Fashion Week. "Finally wearing our work and being a physical part of it was really exciting," Steph said. "Seeing it beamed on to the big screen in the main courtyard at Somerset House was amazing and totally unexpected."

Dr Noki who is well known for pushing the boundaries of design with his NHS (Noki's House of Sustainability) brand of customised clothing and sustainable silhouettes, praised the young designers for their energy and enthusiasm. "I like to teach students how to balance the need for change through fashion textiles, but keeping the emphasis purely on creative design. I feel this is paramount at such a young age," he said.

The results were extremely impressive, Dr Noki added. "All the students worked incredibly hard during the project," he said. "It wasn't always my intention to exhibit so many of their designs but, thanks to the British Fashion Council's Estethica platform, the project has been pushed further, wider and faster than I ever imagined."

Course director Elinor Renfrew said the collaboration really encouraged the students to stretch themselves. "Graduate Fashion Week has always been an excellent opportunity for us to showcase our work, but for our first years to be exhibiting their designs with Dr Noki at London Fashion Week was absolutely fantastic," she said. "The way the students worked together and responded to a brief with a very tight deadline was phenomenal."

The Kingston students' 'Fashion Freaks' were on show throughout London Fashion Week, which ran from 17 to 21 February.

Designer Dr Noki, second left, with Kingston University fashion director Elinor Renfrew, centre, and students Steph Smith, Juan Torkel Spade and Rebecca Partington at the Estethica exhibition.

  •  Find out more about studying fashion at Kingston University.

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