Rome’s Academia di Costume e di Moda kicked the show off with asymmetric coats designed by Sabrina Pilkati. Off-shoulder styles and unarmed sleeves were the mildest examples. At a first glance, one floor-length creation looked like a high-necked dress, but was in fact a coat designed to be worn back to front with a double collar and zipped details draping low down the back.
Shan-Liao Huang from Taiwan’s Shih Chien University was next, designing for both genders. Male models were styled 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.
Tokyo school, Bunka Fashion Graduate University, followed. Min Seo Park’s embossed leather designs saw vines creeping up khaki outerwear and rhinestone-lined faces stamping the backs of inky jackets.
Madelen Ljunggren, graduate of Esmod Oslo in Norway, continued the quilting pattern seen from China. A three-dimensional collared coat presented a pillow-like effect with cushioning accentuated by a heavenly cloud print. Soft touches changed into harder highlights – a knit-bottomed crop appearing to be the edge of a weave basket.
Remaining in Europe, Olga Profutkina from Ireland’s Limerick School of Art and Design went down an eerie path, attaching dolls similar to the ones shown in the animated film, Coraline, to an assortment of dresses. Like a Tim Burton movie, creepy button-eyed figurines watched us from their perches amongst cogs and gears. As an open cage dress filled with these appliqués swung by, we found ourselves immersed in a clockmaker’s workshop.
Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo brought Daichi Togawa and her progressive collection to GFW 2014. Her geometric cathedral prints turned out to be segments of the patterns found on butterfly wings. This was confirmed by a wing-like dress that left the arms free to move but confined the body with pointed shoulders. In muted greens and beiges, the leather pieces were muffled until the true butterfly emerged in a bright red shade.
Jessica Tarisch, from Istituto Marangoni Paris, referenced her homeland of Bavaria with a heavy collection.
She designed traditional looking outfits that blended stripes and flannel to form paper bag-effect skirts. Her own patchwork print was placed on one simply-cut shirt.
The show stayed in France with Lisaa Paris’ Roberto Ruiz Munoz menswear collection. Street style prints like faded graffiti brickwork graced tailored pieces. With his contemporary suits aimed at the cool, young gentleman, Munoz managed to firmly place his lemon-and-black speckled print in the masculine wardrobe. Matador capes attached to bespoke coats were a nice touch.
We jetted off to the other side of the world with Sri Lanka-based institution, AOD, and star graduate, Rukshika Fernando’s collection of carnival swimwear, colourful flowing shirts and pocketed jackets. Perfect for a hot, tropical climate, Fernando’s designs were a far cry from the wet weather outside the Truman Brewery.
Melbourne’s RMIT graduate, Molly Younger, and her collection of ceramic latex garments stole the show. Her elongated designs in a creamy palette looked like cracked papier mâché with sketches of pottery jugs dotted on the bottom of trousers. Producing the same effect on shoe coverings, her high necked pieces sat well within her collection.
Claudio Cutugno represented Istituto Europeo di Design, Milan. His other-worldly creatures floated down the catwalk wearing dark, feathered gowns; their faces shielded with a chiffon, leather and lace wrap. Cutugno’s collection was entirely black, but mixed sheer and opaque fabrics.
One graduate choosing to design for both men and women was a surprise but two hinted at fashion students’ penchant for diversity.
Like Shan-Liao’s designs, FIT Milan’s Daniel Laudadio’s PVC panelled coats and jodhpur trousers were aimed at all genders. His orange peel leather cape looked particularly fitting styled on a male model. Fur muffs attached to sleeves added texture to Laudadio’s collection, proving that the same designs can be used for any type of customer.
Birds of paradise erupted in Maxim Sokolov’s radiant collection. A graduate of Saint Petersburg State University of Technology and Design in Russia, Sokolov mixed long red and orange feathers bonded in tail-like designs. A see-through structure layered over the top allowed feathers to poke through in cut-away holes. As the collection progressed, plumage was replaced with transparent blazers and trench coats, updated with line-drawn pockets and high, cylindrical necklines.
Istituto Marangoni’s Milan campus closed GFW 2014’s international show with Adriana Perelli Gonzalez’s designs. Her “Afro-Cuban Beats” collection fused the two cultures in the form of banana prints, leaf patterns, and plumy floral applique. Bird feathers made shoulder pads and arm cuffs on shell top and cropped trouser ensembles.
Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” played out the finale, upping the tempo for the finish and describing precisely how we felt.
All photographs by Charlie Lee Douglas