Warping religious dress at University of Salford
Risk-taking set the University of Salford’s GFW show apart today. Exploring traditional Islamic dress and craft, a number of BA Fashion Design graduates covered the face but exposed legs with controversial shorter lengths. The risk paid off. It was these designers that fascinated the audience; designers who built on heritage but altered custom garments, refusing to play it safe.
Salford’s students are encouraged to balance their own creativity with practicality, producing designs that fit into modern society. Graduates achieved this today; the majority designing commercial outfits fit for consumers.
An animated voice ranting about everything from Pinterest to animals in space disturbed the quiet chatter at the beginning of the show. Lasting for a few minutes, it pre-empted the complete mixture of collections to come.
The first piece remaining in our minds was from Helen Ashton. Her blend of sport and workwear came together nicely with a panelled white tunic comparable to a laid-back shirt, black lines resembling pockets. Naomi Valentine’s sequin extravaganza used an exquisite colour palette; daffodil yellow being the most noticeable. The shade, found on neoprene basketball shorts, came in different textures including a felt arrow directing round the garment. Platform trainers and oversized bomber jackets gave an extra push of sportiness.
University of Salford’s show flitted from one theme to the next with religion working its way into the fold.
Conservative dress seen in faith-based communities was reflected by graduates and attributed to both genders.
Menswear from Ram Nataraja Moorthy blocked the side view of the face designing blinker-like headwear, pairing with modernised tailcoats in black and white. Little skin was left on show in Moorthy’s collection opposing the knee-length womenswear designs Nina Scott-Smith sent out. The usual Islamic simplicity juxtaposed the carpet print randomly placed alongside fringing on tented dresses.
Iqra Rashid’s collection gave the same silhouette, draping Islamic blue patterns across entire garments.
Concealed faces stormed the catwalk with only their eyes on show. Tomato red tights worn over shoes perfected the look; seemingly Rashid’s way of pushing the contemporary onto the customary.
Some of Salford’s graduates pushed some boundaries, making us think about and question attitude to traditional dress constructed on religion. The same themes cropped up repeatedly with only the greatest few executing them with a twist. It’s this twist that we long to see in graduate collections yet rarely get a hint of. Hats off to those who managed and excelled.
All Photographs by Rebecca Cofie