Showcasing a mix of fashion, textile and knitwear design, covering both menswear and womenswear bases, a confident precision shone through the Northumbria University catwalk show. Though a few collections suffered at times from heavy-handed highlight looks, the overall feel was one of control and refinement. Northumbria’s specialism, outerwear, brought a taste of the Northern weather to us. The show was arguably at its strongest when its students riffed on anoraks and overalls, and reworked coats and capes.
A familiar face at Graduate Fashion Week, showing here since 1991, Northumbria University’s fashion course is dedicated to reconciling the North of England’s manufacturing heritage with the demands of the ever-evolving modern industry. Practical experience is paramount, with each student completing a work placement as part of their course, giving their work an assuredness that only comes with experience.
Kicking off the collections was womenswear textile designer, Emmie Vincent, whose all-white pieces were studded with minuscule pixelesque squares.
Set against wipe-clean fabric with a muted plastic sheen reminiscent of polystyrene and bubble wrap, the looks picked up on the theme of packaging and primed us to keep our eyes peeled for detail.
Katrina Wagster followed with an assertive menswear collection whose simple silhouettes belied the intricate attention paid around the edges; her delicately gathered seams were experimentations at their most understated.
Though Northumbria’s show was for the most part a distinctly cool and collected affair, the students’ evident confidence in their abilities meant they weren’t afraid to have fun and show off their skill in playful ways.
Jodi Worbey’s collection was replete with candy-coloured carousels and skirts which stuck out from the body like circus big tops.
While Caroline Smith merged beach towels and swimming costumes into one, her beach hut prints referenced Pucci with an enjoyably humorous touch.
Onto outerwear where Rosie Connelly’s voluminous sleeves enveloped the arms in soft fabric cocoons and brought an intriguing new shape to the main body of the coat.
Meanwhile, on the menswear front, Meghan Weir reinterpreted different types of military attire, deftly using colour to accentuate her hybrid designs and taking knitwear above and beyond its usual occupations. Possibly the most compelling waterproofs were Charlotte Grant-Mills’ high shine bomber jackets sporting interestingly-shaped sleeves.
The last two collections brought the show to a sophisticated close. Kate Fitch’s bold colour clash of turquoise and orange accentuated the architectural quality of her cuts and the strength of her shaping. Hannah Donkin’s all-black affair was a compelling, though not enormously innovative, investigation into seen and unseen. Lace and oversized netting covered the models’ faces, whose eyes darted out from a single cut out whilst sheers suspended from rigid metal bars revealed and veiled simultaneously.
Overall, the tone of Northumbria University’s catwalk show was one of confident technicality and design. Little nonsense-wear here but self-assured skill and a mischievous quality.
All photographs by Rebecca Cofie