Stripes ’n’ Strokes at Manchester School of Art
‘Answers’ was the ambiguous name of Manchester School of Art’s fashion graduate show. Looking back at the fast-paced show presented by the fashion department of the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), one feels no question was left unanswered, with answers provided in the form of highly individual designs. Menswear and womenswear were on an equal footing with designers showing strong, well-thought out pieces for both genders.
Growing its influence over 170 years, Manchester School of Art is one of the largest providers of art and design courses in the UK. MMU fashion is famous for being finely in tune with the current UK streetwear trend; a style relevant to the fashionable youth that MMU’s GFW show spoke out to.
Marianne Callaghan kicked things off with a denim lookalike menswear collection – an unusual yet longed-for beginning.
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. Victoria Horden and Sami Armstrong’s womenswear designs also featured stripes. Armstrong’s black-and-white bands followed the movement of the body; straight when the arms were extended, they created beautiful curves the rest of the time. The fluidity of the upper part of the garment contrasted nicely with the dashes of horizontally barred tights. Square plastic cuffs added another geometric outline to the collection. Horden’s lines were blotchy ink bleeding out over well-drawn edges. .
While a moustached man stamped across the backs of bomber jackets played hide and seek with the audience, placed in different parts of the garment, the metal hair clip fastenings embellishing the hems were plain for all to see and hear. Brushstrokes look set to be the new print trend with Owen Hughes and Adele McNair both abandoning block colours for a more unorganised blend. Hughes’ menswear collection was graphic in every sense of the word, swearing across the front of digitally marbled pieces; the politest phrase being ‘so over it.’ His sporty silhouettes shone in neon scribbles while McNair’s child-like womenswear designs were subdued in pastel tones. Washed out print reminiscent of finger-painting adorned silk jumpsuits and occasionally flashed up in luminescent shades similar to ones used by Hughes.
Collections carried on getting busier, coming to a crescendo with Camilla Grimes. Fur, sequins and pictures of hairless cats may sound like a tiring mix to watch but its irrational nature worked. Pink bomber jackets and poodle skirts were the focal points, making for a crazy couple of minutes that were delightfully kitsch.
Applying stripes and strokes in wholly varying ways, Manchester School of Art’s fashion graduates used their school’s principle of embracing individuality to create highly contemporary garments. The commitment and creativity of the students and their teachers was evident throughout and if some of the collections seemed wild and far-out, remember this is Manchester, not Paris. Go with the ride and enjoy the vibe.
All Photographs by Charlie Lee Douglas