The only common characteristic shared by the fashion collections presented by Northbrook College Sussex’s students at GFW 2014 was their individuality. With influences that zigzagged across continents encapsulating everything from street wear to lingerie, it was clear that the school gives students the freedom to follow their tastes wherever they take them.
Benefitting from Brighton’s fashion buzz, Northbrook College encourages its fashion and textile students to look for inspiration at a local as well as global level. Their fashion design course was recently awarded a Creative Skillset accreditation, so big things were expected from the College crop of future fashion designers at the 2014 Graduate Fashion Week.
Corrina Smith’s collection presented a contradiction in textile terms. We saw lines of cosy cable knit set against sinuous silks gently dappled with colour. Woollen-fronted high heels merged comfort and pain, creating an unexpected union between soft and hard, snug and sexy that played out over a palette of muted mauves and oranges.
Kicking things up a notch on the colour front, Georgia Bruton’s collection saw clothing icons of rap culture such as denim and bandana print working together as one. There were slogans words cut out roughly from garments and filled in with lace in vibrant shades, challenging the traditional use of this delicate material.
Mehreen Paracha’s collection was almost as revealing as the lingerie collection that preceded it. Loose layers over tight, expert drapery let glimpses of contrasting yellow and navy prints peek through. Sleek cut-out suede coats added a richness and a warmth to the collection which felt confident to remain refined.
Power dressing was given a new lease of life in Emily Durcan’s ‘Divine Proportion’ collection. Thin lines of orange flared along the waists and flashed from pockets while structured half diamond shapes jutted out from the model’s hips and chests in an extension of the female form, turning the 1980s aesthetic of exaggerated masculinity on its head.
As is often the case, Northbrook saved the best till last with three of their strongest students closing the show. They all shared a confidence of character. Nicole Poynter’s psychedelic mash-up of trippy prints and hippy silhouettes with illustrations of dreamlike and nightmarish imagery.
Vanessa Ofori-Boafo’s woven leather waistcoats and short suits took smart casual on a journey across continents. Her regal pieces, including a boldly embellished umbrella, were fit for an African prince. Meanwhile, Sarah Barron’s collection saw slivers of fabric strung like harp strings moving with insouciance down the runway. Her bold use of black and muted gold was softened with shearling-covered shoulders.
Northbrook kept the catwalk crowd on their toes, resisting categorisations with series of collections striking in their variety. Something for everyone here, under and over from head to toe.
All photographs by Charlie Lee Douglas