Graduate Fashion Week is always a pleasure and there's such a buzz of hope and expectation in the air. This year it coincided with an interesting conversation I had with Amy Powney of Mother of Pearl (Kingston graduate), where we got chatting about the practical use of a fashion degree, or lack of it. That interview will follow shortly, but she raised interesting questions about conceptual learning versus the practical skills required to get the job of fashion done. In other words, are we teaching our artists and designers to be too cerebral, when they need a balance of craftsmanship and imagination. Is fashion getting too big for its thigh-high boots, in thinking of itself as art? It's the old 'form versus function' debate essentially.
This year we went along to a few of the international shows, and were, quite frankly, blown away by the quality on show, in terms of wearable elegance and craftsmanship. Not to say that our home-grown wasn't outstanding, but there was a sense that it could possibly be sacrificing craftsmanship to concept, and possibly worrying too much about current trends rather than looking around for fresh inspiration. Students from The Home Front who did make us sit up and take special note were Ellis Curries of Bournemouth and Louise Bennetts of Edinburgh.
It may just be that the recent impression my conversation with Amy had on me, coloured my views a little, but Paris and Milan still own the future runway, with a dark horse from Berlin, named Alexandra Kohlmeier. Many congratulations to all the graduates of 2012.
Words – Vanessa Austin Locke