Best of GFW2014 – Menswear
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.
Menswear was particularly striking at this year’s GFW with a whole host of panelling and androgynous shapes. Aimee Dunn’s collection laid a political stance on fashion, embossing Margaret Thatcher’s face onto the front of garments while Lord Kitchener’s pointing finger repeated his wartime message from the back. Dunn’s different approach, helped by her time at Nottingham Trent University, won her Graduate Fashion Week’s Menswear Award, presented by design duo, Agi & Sam.
Manchester School of Art’sMarianne Callaghan presented a denim lookalike menswear collection.Basics were deconstructed down to individual panels and re-pieced together, wrapping ticking fabric panels over and across. The material’s traditional stripes lined muted blues and greens, streaked on ponchos and tent-shaped coats. Her fellow Manchester graduate, Jessica Campbell, opted for actual denim to make up a contemporary, tailored collection. Oversized jeans rolled up gave a grungy element to each look, balanced with an injection of ‘smart’ by pairing half a white shirt with half a denim one.
Many menswear collections featured all sorts of boxy tees. UCA Epsom’sJunaid Nasar sent out a nicely printed collection; his silver foil inspired by ethnic Pakistani prints forming discs across torsos.
Birmingham’s Wai Keung Lam was up next with a feminine-styled menswear collection featuring beiges and charcoal greys offset with red stripes.
He refashioned the classic white shirt with soft draping on one side and deconstructed rough weaving into ropes with knotted ends that swayed as the models moved.
Shan-Liao Huang, from Taiwan’s Shih Chien University, designed for both genders with menswear looks being the strongest. Huang, who first presented his collection in the International Show, styled male models with prison shackle cuffs and boots. The women interestingly weren’t although both sexes wore structured quilts that formed their garments. Seat belts were used to tie coats while Chinese letters were stamped across many pieces. Shan-Liao was later that day presented with the International Catwalk Award by Sara Maino, senior fashion editor at Vogue Italia, who alongside Royal College of Art’s Wendy Dagworthy also judged the International competition.
Fewer menswear collections were presented at Graduate Fashion Week 2014 than in the previous year.
This fashion market has caused so much excitement within education, in the industry, and in the street and this lull at GFW 2014 may signal a period of calm coming back to the sector. The jury certainly saw the commercial potential of the collection selected.
When the time came to present the awards, each judge emphasised how difficult a decision it had been and gave many an honourable mention. With Shan-Liao Huang winning the International Catwalk Award, and Aimee Dunn receiving the Menswear Award, it was time for the others to be presented. Rebecca Swann won the Stuart Peters Visionary Knitwear Award while the Creative Catwalk Award was given to Camilla Grimes with Hannah Donkin receiving an honourable mention. The Womenswear Award went to Grace Weller who also went on to win the overall George Gold Award.
All photographs by Charlie Lee Douglas