GRADUATE FASHION WEEK IS BACK

Cicilia presents Graduate Fashion Week (GFW) 2021, which happened from the 12th to the 18th of June, one of the most anticipated events by young fashion students on the world scene.

The event is organised by the Graduate Fashion Foundation (GFF), a charity founded precisely 30 years ago to bridge the gap between university and employment. The organisation’s mission is to promote the meeting of graduates and the fashion industry by showcasing the best talents. GFW is not the only activity of this charity. Still, the essential commitment to students’ support is constant and full of exciting activities. Mentorship programmes and tailored advice are the basis for exchanging opinion, knowledge, and experience. The goal is also to keep the fashion system constantly updated on the new generations and their opinions.

The charity was founded in 1991 by Jess Banks CBE, Vanessa Denza MBE, and John Walford to unite promising UK fashion talent with the rest of the world. On its 25th anniversary, the organisation announced its lifetime patrons, namely Christopher Bailey MBE, Victoria Beckham OBE, Nick Knight OBE, and Dame Vivienne Westwood. These people are key names in the fashion industry. Thanks to their talent and dedication, they brought significant prestige to the nation. For example, Christopher Bailey was the first Gold Award winner, while Stella McCartney’s career was launched thanks to the GFF. Moreover, the foundation has 20 Global Ambassadors who promote its activities and capture interesting news worldwide.

The success of GFF speaks for itself if you look at the goals and the numbers achieved. The charity supported more than 1000,000 graduates and undergraduates with a staggering total of 613 catwalk shows walked by 18,390 models. In the past, guest stars of the GFW catwalks included a dog and three goldfish, who left the audience speechless. Although the pandemic cancelled GFW 2020, this edition, albeit digital, had grit to sell.

Among the significant issues addressed by the GFF are well-being, sustainability, and diversity, as the fashion industry is increasingly attentive to the environment and the well-being of producers and consumers. Around 40 of the most prestigious fashion schools in the world compete for the 20 awards available. The GFW is open to fashion design, styling, creative direction, photography, marketing, and textile students, and it’s held thanks to the sponsorship of prestigious brands including ASOS, Tik Tok, and L’Oréal.

The 2021 edition was held in Coal Drops Yard, a new and vibrant area near King’s Cross, London. The atmosphere was electrifying, with visitors wearing eye-catching outfits wandering around the site ready to take selfies with all the most creative GFW extravaganzas. GFW spread across multiple exhibition spaces; some well-known brands located in Coal Drops Yard hosted mannequins with graduate outfits.

A temporary showroom hosted the creations of around 200 young designers from UK and non-UK universities. Sketchbooks were displayed along with outfits, and it was great to see the creative process that lead to garment creation. Unfortunately, due to travel restrictions, only some London-based students attended the event in person, while all the other students shipped their outfits. I fortunately had the chance to meet and chat with three University of East London graduates and have a fashion chat with them.

AINA VILA @SPLENDID_CHOAS_LONDON

What’s the biggest challenge you found during the pandemic?

A – The closure of fashion labs, sewing everything at home, was challenging!

What inspired you for this collection?

A – I took inspiration from Dadaismkitsch and chaos. This artistic movement is characterised by destruction, boldness and irrationality. I mixed its conceptualisation to functionality, taking inspiration from my wardrobe. From harmony to destruction, this is how I like to describe my outfits.

Do you have any plans for the future? Would you like to open your business?

A – I don’t have any plans yet, for sure next week I’ll take part in the Tik Tok Competition. In a week, I will create an outfit that will be sent to influencers.

If you had to wear just one colour all summer, what would it be?

A- Lime green! It’s the colour of the season, and I fell in love with it when a friend bought a total lime-green dress. I first thought it was too bold, then I loved it.

LIBERTY VICTORIA @LIBERTYVICTORIA

What’s the biggest challenge you found during the pandemic?

L- I couldn’t access university labs, and I had to collect fabrics online without seeing them in person. I had a hard time finding the rights textiles and getting them shipped to me. I re-purposed football memorabilia, as I think there’s a ridiculous amount of fabric waste in the fashion industry.

What inspired you for this collection?

L- Football has always been very important to me. I used to watch it with my dad when I was a child. My brother and I wore football kits all the time. I like the fact that re-purposed fabrics have a story.

Do you have any plans for the future? Would you like to open your business?

L- In September, I’ll start a MA in Menswear at the University of Westminster. Then, maybe in the future, I’ll open my business.

If you had to wear just one colour all summer, what would it be?

L- Red! Because it stands out and has so many shades and meanings.

AMINAT ODUNEWU @AMINATO_DESIGN

What’s the biggest challenge you found during the pandemic?

A – I had to sew in my living room, but mostly I was not with my mates. I find inspiration being together with other creative minds.

What inspired you for this collection?

A – I took inspiration from sportswear, Japanese streetwear, and princesses. My collection embodies the whimsical imagination of children. I love childrenswear princess-style prints and beads.

Do you have any plans for the future? Would you like to open your business?

A- I want to get some more experience with a job. I don’t have a dream company, though. Then I would like to open my business.

If you had to wear just one colour all summer, what would it be?

A- Of course, pink, this is my everyday mood. I don’t even realise I wear something pink every day.

After a year off, this GFW was a breath of fresh creativity and youth and Coal Drops Yard was the perfect place to show creative outfits. Don’t forget to look at the Graduate Fashion Foundation to discover more talented graduates and of course check out these Instagram profiles.

You can read more of Cicilia’s articles on ciciliabrognoli.com

Image by Pietro Recchia

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