Process at UEL
A striped silhouette of a pair of scissors spelling out the word ‘Process’ from the back of the stage, University of East London cut straight to the point with Krasimira Ivanova-Stoyneva’s swaying fringes and block colours setting the tone for the rest of the show. In contrast to Instituto Marangoni where it was the menswear collections that really made their mark, here, womenswear had its best foot forward. The theme of ‘Process’ manifested itself as an insight into the production process, rather than as a description of the collections themselves. Unfinished edges abounded with many a rough-hewn hem, there were plenty of tack stitches, torn strips and slices of fabric to be seen. After a striking start, the show settled into a sportswear-heavy section punctuated with fluorescent accents of fuchsia, highlighter orange and acid yellow, before building into the unexpectedly gothic crescendo of Tiyiani Li’s darkly romantic sheers and spiky headdresses.
Showing a stone’s throw from campus, East London University are very much on home turf at GFW with graphic design, photography and fine art students working together under one roof. The course prepares students to become part of a commercial industry where collaboration is key. Focusing on both fast and slow fashion, whilst uniting enterprise and technical expertise, the University of East London has an eye on all aspects of the industry, making the most of its creative community.
Luiz Lula Filho’s carefully manipulated chiffon cascaded with a motion that recalled marine life; the frayed tassels and strips were lithe and languid as jellyfish tentacles, while the rows of white lines swayed like gently undulating gills. Chloe Taylor used a similarly stark palette to bring the drape of her fabric to the fore.
With the material gently folded around thin metal loops, each piece showed itself to be more structural than the last.
When not scattering the catwalk with brightly-coloured tassels, the collections were content to remain minimalist and monochromatic. Aside from Tiyani Li’s bold black, many of the collections were whitewashed exercises, giving the spotlight to material movements. Emma Long’s collection saw dappled silk draping from the models’ shoulders, whilst copper and silver washers shone from their fingers and through the clear plastic clutch bags.
Elsewhere, the theme of ties and falling fabric took us across continents with Kim Stevenson’s tribalistic layering of wool over weave. Vivid turquoises and crimsons interwove with oranges played out over the more mundane backdrop of denim and grey tweed.
Alexandra Huxtable looped yellow/green belts through the eyelets of her sea green coats and dresses smattered with the familiar scissor motif from the start of the show. Peter Kyaw’s lines of red and pink had his masterful shaping to thank for their 3-D effect, which saw them jumping out from the black backdrop of the dresses, accentuating both their own original cut and the silhouette of the wearer. We saw Harriet Rushmer make use of lines through layering, placing sheer checked chiffon over a stiff structural pink and red skirt.
All in all, University of East London was a dramatic look at the different stages of the design process; from the cutting and tacking of humble beginnings to the accessorising and styling of the final product. Against a muted backdrop of colour, the mechanics of clothes manufacture and the character of the materials were given centre stage to have their voices heard.
Photographs by Rebecca Cofie