Birmingham Front

A morphing of styles: Birmingham Institute of Art and Design


Birmingham City University’s Institute of Art and Design showed themselves to be a school of diverse aesthetics for Graduate Fashion Week 2015. Last year, Birmingham excelled with its prints and Holly Jane Smith’s Egyptian-inspired collection was presented at the GFW14 Best in Show Womenswear. Birmingham students showing at GFW 2015 had big shoes to fill and they did. Prints were loud and boisterous. Following a recurring theme of asymmetry, seams were staggered and no two shoulders were the same. Morphing of styles was an overall theme with designers playing around with different decades; bringing a sense of nostalgia to the audience.

All Images by Anna Wytrazek



Robert Renton showed his menswear in a non-flash eggshell palette. Talking to the designer before the show, he explained his inspiration: Mormon shirts and cyclists. A hard concept to grasp until the collection strode out into the bright spotlights. Visions of cyclist’s sportswear came clear through with nylon strapping, breathable baseball caps and elastic pulls sewed into almost every seam. Shirts, following the crisp and clean Mormon guidelines, were covered with layers of opaque plastic waterproofs. On top, a lot was going on. On the bottom, cyclist shorts were cut through and gaped around various areas of the legs. Renton believed in his concept, and he stuck to it, and it worked.

Next up was Katrina Wilson, a designer of womenswear who threw us onto a tropical island with her prints of hibiscus flowers splattered all over. Hot pinks, fiery reds and sunshine yellows distracted us from the seriousness of her navy blue fabric. The colour scheme exuded luxury and sophistication.


Elisabeth Kamaris’ first model walked the catwalk wearing a dress that channelled Jean Paul Gaultier’s bustier of Madonna fame. Except only one breast cup was covered. And it was wooden. The designer’s work with wood sculpture was admired for its ingenuity but remained art-to-wear. Or will wood structuring trickle down to the high street?

Berta Kenulyte experimented with large holes in knitted fabric dresses, whilst preserving the modesty of her model thanks to broad primary coloured stripes along the width. Her shift dresses moved elegantly along the catwalk whilst incarcerating the length of the arms, widening the upper half of the silhouette.

Charlotte Illidge proceeded to tell a tale of old and new with her menswear collection. Her brick red corduroys and tan leather shoes, which Grandfather may have worn, were paired with strong digital graphics prints.


Katie Biggs menswear was also strong, her knitwear was paired with tailored coats and trousers. Thick, chunky knit jumpers and tapered trousers that fell halfway down the calf came in muted tones of blue, grey and cream.

Mirjam Kristian’s models swayed down the runway in layers over layers and more layers. Dresses bounced and flounced in delicate gatherings that all conjugated into voluminous skirts. In contrast, the top part of the body was structured with dismantled shoulders to create sultry asymmetric looks.

Womenswear and menswear were equally represented this year. With Birmingham City University students specializing in fashion design, garment technology, performance design and fashion accessories, there was a broad variety of work walking down the GFW 2015 catwalk. Stretching from ready-to-wear to more experimental pieces, there was one thing in common with each designer; they each knew their strengths and used them to the best of their abilities.




Written by Ruyi Meer

Ruyi Meer

Ruyi Meer is currently at London College of Fashion studying MA Fashion Media Practice and Criticism. Ruyi interested in working in all areas of fashion communication and love the constant evolution of the industry.