Best of GFW2014 – Knitwear
Graduate Fashion Week is a chance for today’s young designers to showcase their skill on a global scale. For the rest of us, it’s an opportunity to identify the big industry names of tomorrow. At GFW’s new home for 2014, the Old Truman Brewery in the heart of London’s arty East end, we admired well over a thousand collections from students up and down the country. The Best Of show was a chance to recap on the crème de la crème of the event ahead of the awards ceremony revealing this year’s winners. Up for grabs were scholarships, industry experience and, of course, the grand £10,000 prize from GFW sponsor, George at Asda.
Only four knitwear graduates were chosen as the best of the bunch. Rebecca Swann’s cream-and-black concoction won her the Stuart Peters Visionary Knitwear Award and a £1,000 cash prize. A Nottingham Trent University graduate, Swann layered yarn over and over, leaving sample sized pieces hanging on top. Knitted culottes akin to a sheep’s coat weighed down lighter tops, adding a level of detail to the bottom half of outfits that has been rarely seen this GFW.
Bath Spa University showed their knitwear credentials with two graduates in the ‘Best of GFW’ show. Keziah Newlove’s collection lived up to high expectations.
We particularly admired her handling of a milky palette of purples and yellows over fine gauge knits, rubberised in places and mixed with chunkily woven bright blues and reds. These colours and textures shouldn’t have settled together so well, but Newlove’s expert eye ensured they did. She completed her collection using staple-like tiny silver bars to add detail to her designs and to decorate the frames of sunglasses.
Ainslie Mackie’s collection was practical but polished as we saw chunky knit jumpers combined with ladylike lace skirts worn over rolled-down rubber boots.
Soft greys and navy blues were the order of the day here, with a few patches of sparkly peach shades shining through here and there.
Mackie used oversized knitwear to zoom in on her skill with giant cable stitching and honeycomb patterns providing ingrained embellishment, while her careful shaping made sure the structures didn’t swamp the models.
Kingston University’sCamille Hardwick had clearly contemplated the structure of knit for her collection. In searing shades of coral striped with turquoise, this was netting rather than knitting with mesh and wool questioning each other’s configuration. She layered the transparent blue and orange lettering, synthesising the different textures of the fabric.
Knitwear graduates produced an array of textured designs, playing with colours and knitting techniques to create chunky, oversized silhouettes alongside lighter, ladylike ones.
Each judge emphasised how difficult a decision it had been and gave many an honourable mention. The results of the International Catwalk Competition were announced first with Shan-Liao Huang taking home the prize. As previously mentioned, Rebecca Swann received the Stuart Peters Visionary Knitwear Award.
The Creative Catwalk Award was given to Camilla Grimes with Hannah Donkin receiving an honourable mention. The Menswear Award went to Aimee Dunn, and Womenswear to Grace Weller who also went on to win the overall George Gold Award.
All photographs by Charlie Lee Douglas