Working the Silhouette
Showing for the first time at Graduate Fashion Week 2014, Norwich University of the Arts took us on an exploration of the silhouette. Working with a variety of fabrics, students experimented with cut and construction.
Billows and bulges mingling with uncluttered and streamlined cuts made for an eclectic approach to shaping. A theme of simplicity and a rustic palette of burnt umbers and ash browns ran throughout.
Overstepping boundaries is Norwich University of the Arts’ forte. Created only a few years ago, their BA Fashion course does not dismiss the technical skills needed to succeed as a fashion designer. Instead, NUA’s students are trained to create high quality garments.
2014 graduate Chloe Fuller is already making her mark on the industry with her designs being selected by the UKFT among 11 others as the best examples of fashion graduate work in the UK.
Sophie Fisher opened the show with pieces that seemed to unpick the stitches of countryside stereotypes. She challenged suitable green tweeds with stark and impractical white trousers and skirts; an equestrian influence slowly unfolding. Saddle leather-backed coats and delicate floral prints were especially memorable. A Japanese-inspired silhouette confused the message slightly but Sophie balanced the collection out well, producing some graceful swan-like silhouettes.
Contrast was key in Amy Coppin’s collection; she presented kaleidoscopic Mary Katrantzou-esque prints on airy chiffons, layered beneath sleeveless coats and gilets in thick grey wool.
These heavy jackets were constructed with twisted and contorted slices of fabric acting as textural embellishments. In one outfit, she used jutting shoulder bars, transforming the wearer into a literal coat hanger for the clothes.
Chloe Kent’s collection enveloped the models’ bodies in soft cocoons of fabric. Slouchy trouser styles contrasted with thick band tops forcing shoulders back before splitting open to reveal the models’ bare flesh. The colour spectrum spanned from soft greys to pops of corals and salmons on digitally printed silk.
Nicolas Marcs also explored human-to-animal metamorphosis, covering his models’ faces with muzzle masks and their hoof-like high heels with fluffy brown fabric. The broad folds of a dramatic cape in yellowy brown and mahogany felt suggested the shape of a moth’s wings.
Chloe Fuller looked to the skies for inspiration in her collection. We saw airplane seat belts cinching in the waists of her otherwise blocky outlines. There were sleeves which soared up the models’ shoulders to become wings and the asphalt grey shades of runways. Fuller developed her fabrics well, creating impression under bonded material and presenting a wide scope of textures and depths with skill.
Norwich students pushed the boundaries of cutting and shaping, showcasing their inspiration in the placing of the fabric around the body rather than with embellishment or adornment on its surface. Though some collections would have benefitted from a little more depth and experimentation with colour, the overall result was one of intelligent simplicity.
All photographs by Charlie Lee Douglas