Three-dimensional graphics at ECA
Anticipation for Edinburgh College of Art’s graduate fashion show was building all day. Home to ‘All Walks Beyond the Catwalk’ Diversity Network, ECA’s students celebrated a variety of cultures with silhouettes for all shapes and sizes. From the Far East to the Wild West, continents crossed paths at ECA’s show. The only Scottish school to be a part of London Graduate Fashion Week, graduates developed quirky prints, ingenious appliques and a palette that spanned the colour spectrum.
Print and graphics revealed themselves as central themes yet all the students’ illustrative designs were entirely diverse. Louis Prier Tisdall’s opening collection spoke an oriental language with Eastern prints papered across relaxed menswear. Kimono-like coats featured strips of satin patterns; loose threads occasionally clustered to form a diamond print. Tetris shapes shot a graphic element into Salwa McGill’s womenswear collection. Yellow and turquoise played together on the top of dresses which were free and flowing in their silhouette, gracefully stepping down the runway.
Lisa Berry’s kooky designs were visually exciting. Playful eyeball motifs rested atop a single flower, seemingly watching from every angle of the dress. Teeth shapes arrived along with 3D arrows pinned to bright Ferris wheels. A smile appeared on everyone’s face as pull-out tabs held still by the model were later pulled apart revealing another striking motif; a clever technique reeling watchers in.
Garments became a field of sea anemones in Kirsty Frew’s collection. Inky bodies blossomed with feathery white and blood red tentacles, placed on a bed of intricately designed lace. Movement was crucial to Frew’s pieces which flowed in an ocean-breeze formation, giving a rare beauty to her evening gowns. An unfastened powder pink suit altered with the same three-dimensional creatures progressed her collection, merging light and dark exquisitely.
Accessories were a strong point for Holly Glover. Her cavewoman carried buffalo-horned rucksacks with no worry over the carefully placed rips in her silver silk dress. Both Glover and Louise Bell adhered to a parachute effect although Bell eliminated any decorations. Titled ‘Beneath’, Bell’s garments appeared to be inside out, with panels akin to parachute sections placed here and there in vivid pinks and oranges.
Towards the end of the show, a starry night scene emerged before us with Colleen Leitch’s twinkling garments capturing the catwalk. A mysterious, sophisticated figure sleeked her way in front of the crowd as if in a 1920’s Jazz club; silver sparkles ascending down into black spangled sequins on wide-legged trousers and long collared coats.
The Wild West was brought to Leitch’s collection through sequinned cowboy hats and an updated version of a cowhide throw through bleaching velvet.
Imaginative and far-exploring – that’s an understated way to define Edinburgh College of Art’s GFW show. Designers combined everything they had been taught, producing collections that conjured up an awe-inspiring atmosphere. Electrifying to watch, each design stimulated the senses, sending our minds whirring into gear. Last year, ECA graduate, Lauren Smith, won the highest accolade at GFW: the George Gold Award for Best Collection. Any award given to this year’s graduates will be more than well deserved. All the students’ collections presented were relevant, exciting and perfectly executed. As we stepped out of the catwalk arena, our only regret was that the show had ended.
All photographs by Rebecca Cofie