Grazia’s Graduate Fashion Showcase: These Royal College Of Art Graduates Are Determined To Put On A Show

Their graduate catwalk might have been cancelled because of coronavirus, but the RCA's class of 2020 is still going out with a bang.

graduate fashion week

by Natalie Hammond |

For the first time in its history, the Royal College of Art’s graduate catwalk show has been unceremoniously cancelled. But that doesn’t mean its class of 2020 isn’t going out without a bang. Instead, rather like last week’s digital-only London Fashion Week, it will host a digital discovery platform, RCA2020, so that audiences from around the world can explore the next generation of design talent from the comfort of their living rooms. Before its official launch on 16 July, and a range of social media happenings from 20 June, we spoke to 11 of its designers for Grazia’s very own Graduate Fashion Showcase, discussing their collections, their inspirations and their thoughts on the fashion industry’s future.

Gallery

Royal College Of Art: Class Of 2020

Andrew Culloo
1 of 11

Can you please explain your final collection?My final project is called 'Art Darlings', born out of my experience of working in the contemporary art world. The women who I would see at private views have inspired me to create fun and colourful clothing; [they] will ultimately become my customers.What has been your biggest inspiration?I work at Hauser & Wirth in London. My experience there has been my main source of inspiration. The late Italian art collector Giuseppe Panza had a show in September 2018. Art has taken me on many journeys, and I visited his Villa Panza in Varese, in December 2019, which is just north of Milan. The collision of Baroque and abstract expressionism was truly inspiring. Which fashion designers/creatives would you cite as your biggest inspiration?I love the old school designers such as Christian Dior and Cristobal Balenciaga, as well as Seventies designers such as Ossie Clark and, of course, Bill Gibb. Eccentric women in the arts such as Diana Vreeland and Peggy Guggenheim also feed my imagination with their unconventional taste and sense of style. Diana Vreeland's biography, filled with humour and extravagance, is everything that I love about fashion. What do you think fashion will look like in 10 years?I would ask the question, does the current fashion system as we know it have a future?. I hope as a young designer that this pandemic will bring change. The fashion week schedule will hopefully become a thing of the past and designers will show on their timeframe to individuals via alternative platforms, who support and appreciate the brand for its honesty and values. What's been your highlight during your time studying at RCA?The RCA has changed my life in many ways. I am so blessed and privileged to have studied there. I think the opportunity to use the workshops and many technical facilities was the highlight. We had incredible visiting lecturers like Giles Deacon and Alex Mullins, who taught me so much about being a designer. What's your ambition now you've graduated?To work abroad and gain experience working for a multidisciplinary design house. There are many designers like Sterling Ruby who combine art and fashion and, for me, fashion is not only about the clothes, it's about the space, architecture, furniture and painting on the wall and how all those elements merge.

Ellen Fowles
2 of 11

Can you please explain your final collection?This is a capsule collection about and for my grandmother, analysing her life at home, in hospital and as a clinical outpatient. My intention was to provide her with garments that would grant her the freedom to live according to her desires rather than against the constraints of her medical clothing.What has been your biggest inspiration for the collection/project?Studying the access points and fastenings in apparel, and choreographing the act of getting dressed and undressed to accommodate for those with reduced mobility.Which fashion designers/creatives would you cite as your biggest inspiration?In my work I co-design with disabled people and healthcare professionals. I would say, therefore, that these are the people who are my biggest inspiration. Involving the wearer and those they frequently interact with, such as frontline NHS staff, enables me to cater for a more diverse market, and therefore approximate various lived experiences to practice inclusive design.What do you think fashion will look like in 10 years?There is an excess of 'product' in the world. This is an enhanced problem in the fashion industry, yet the needs of our ageing population and disabled people are broadly ignored. We need to both protect and empower the most vulnerable in our society. Design creates disability; it is our responsibility to change that.What's been your highlight during your time studying at RCA?The opportunity to learn from a cross-disciplinary approach to design. For one brief, I worked with 10 other women as a collective. There was no hierarchy of pre-determined roles, and our successes came from our ability to empathise with each other. What's your ambition now you've graduated?I want to grant true choice to the wearers of adaptive clothing and provide a dignified, more tailored aesthetic than the pyjamas or ill-fitting sportswear that so many are left with. My aim is to create garments that both disabled and able-bodied people can enjoy.

Erica So
3 of 11

Can you please explain your final collection?My work symbolises the beauty and [tragedy] of the current political situation in my hometown, Hong Kong. Combining my emotion towards the ongoing protests with the beauty of Hong Kong's history, I created couture-like piece that express the power of protest, anger, sadness and anxiety toward the unknown future. What has been your biggest inspiration? The graffiti on the street that is erased by the government with leftover marks, as well as the power of female protesters. Which fashion designers/creatives would you cite as your biggest inspiration?Couture is always the most impressive part of the fashion industry to me. The craftmanship, the expression and even the format of selling are my biggest inspirations [in terms of] how to position myself in the industry in order to produce something that is extremely time-consuming, but in a sustainable way.What do you think fashion will look like in 10 years?Digital will be dominating the fashion industry. People will need less clothing so we will be making less but [higher] quality items. At the same time, there are still techniques that are not able to be produced by machinery. My own practice [with] knitwear is to challenge techniques that are irreplaceable by machinery.What's been your highlight during your time studying at RCA?The opportunity to approach different aspects of fashion, things beyond the aesthetic. I have a chance to learn about social responsibility as a fashion designer and sustainability. The RCA has shaped me into a more thoughtful knitwear designer.What's your ambition now you've graduated?I want to have a chance to be involved in the knitwear industry, to learn the digital skills, and to use my ability of handcrafted techniques to create a new form of knitwear.

Isabel De La Roche
4 of 11

Can you please explain your final collection?What we carry with us today combines essentials – phone, cards, keys – with indulgences – lipstick, chocolate. I have designed a collection of handcrafted pocket accessories that form a conversation between themselves and the body. These pieces are functional, wrapping around the body and defining it. I see accessories in the same light as footwear, where the shoe is formed around the anatomy of the foot to support it.What has been your biggest inspiration?My most critical research combines the history of pockets, and the architectural and romantic body influenced by the solarised photography of the artists Lee Miller and Dora Maar. Its contours and the space that surrounds it are the foundations for my silhouettes. Which fashion designers/creatives would you cite as your biggest inspiration?My peers, tutors and the people who I interact with are the biggest driving force; our conversations, points of difference, backgrounds and values. Fashion is about a conversation, that's where style emerges. The work of photographer Lee Miller, Lillian Bassman, architect Eileen Gray amongst other modernist women have shaped the outline of my work.What do you think fashion will look like in 10 years?Freeform societies: distance learning, working from home, flexible employment, scarcity of raw materials, and an emphasis on responsible, ethical design. I believe the future is one of accessories blended with clothes and our homes, not one that assumes these to be separate entities. Fashion will seek to move away from the current standardisation and categorisation of shape and style.What's been your highlight during your time studying at RCA?Mirror, Mirror. A creative exercise of self-analysis at the beginning of year two, where the whole cohort had to search for the deepest meaning of themselves.What's your ambition now you've graduated?To set up a creative studio with collaborators from fashion to perfume, where I work as a consultant on footwear and accessories and, in the future, go beyond fashion.

Jaden Cho
5 of 11

Can you please explain your final collection?My collection is about 'Diversified Women'. Historically, 'couture' means how the garments fit on their customer physically but, in my opinion, making creations by understanding the modern women's needs, ideas and voices is a new way of creating couture. I will try to figure out a new method [for] 'made to order'. What has been your biggest inspiration for the collection/project?What inspires me most is always the friends around me. Conversation and collaboration with them has a lot of influence on me. Which fashion designers/creatives would you cite as your biggest inspiration?Dries Van Noten. The fabric and flower patterns he uses bring happiness and romance not just to me but to countless people. What do you think fashion will look like in 10 years?Fashion will certainly change a lot, from the visual to the functional. However, I believe that fashion in 10 years, like fashion from 10 years ago, will have a very close relationship with people, create a unique culture and have a great influence on society. What's been your highlight during your time studying at RCA?Learning that social responsibility as a designer is as important as individual aesthetic. In the beginning, there were many conflicts, but two years later, I was able to rethink many topics and study sustainable design. What's your ambition now you've graduated?Now I'm staying in Seoul and thinking about the future I have to confront. Everything is uncertain and all the projects I was preparing have stopped. However, there is one thing which is certain. Just like Christian Dior after the Second World War, as of 2020, we need the second New Look. As such, despite our anxiety and confusion, fashion never stops and it will give people joy and romance. I dream of becoming such a designer.

Jonathan Rayson
6 of 11
CREDIT: Stoney Darkstone

Can you please explain your final collection?'Symbiosis' is the exploration of the symbiotic nature between anatomy and architecture through a vehicle of 'visible engineering' and progressive tailoring.What has been your biggest inspiration?From a conceptual design standpoint, using 'fashion' as a networking gateway into other realms and industries, such as creative coding, architecture, Virtual Reality and 3D printing. Then distilling it all into 'new worlds' and wearables.Which fashion designers/creatives would you cite as your biggest inspiration?Azzedine Alaïa, Rick Owens and Cristobal Balenciaga.What do you think fashion will look like in 10 years?I think we will see a further downturn in the over-consumption and need for instant products/drops and a wider shift towards the digital realm and how we consume fashion. What's been your highlight during your time studying at RCA?Being able to cross-pollinate creatively and collaborate with other creatives and designers from different disciplines.What's your ambition now you've graduated?I would like to create a multi-discipline 'design collective' with collaborators, ranging from fashion, architecture, creative coders to VR architects. In the hopes of working towards new 'future systems' and towards assets which are 'more than the sum of their parts'.

Marcela Baltarete,
7 of 11

Can you please explain your final collection?Entitled 'MARCEL/A - digital introspection and relief', I would describe my work as being at the intersection of transhumanism and postgenderism, which generated from my own experiences with gender dysphoria, depression and chronic illness. Realising all my body's limitations made me want to create a variation of digital selves in a world where I could visualise myself in a less constricted way and just be. I've treated this project as a therapeutic way of working where I let my instincts lead the direction in which I'm going followed by an analysis of my choices.What has been your biggest inspiration?My own limitations. Which fashion designers/creatives would you cite as your biggest inspiration?Alok Vaid-Menon, Dorian Electra and Ines Alpha.What do you think fashion will look like in 10 years?In 10 years I hope to see more considered choices, less tokenism and an openness to diversity not just in terms of aesthetic, as well as acknowledgement and [the ability] to adapt quicker to technologies that would make the industry more sustainable. Less quantity, more substance.What's been your highlight during your time studying at RCA?My time at RCA has been the most valuable time I've spent. It has stretched my thinking beyond what I would have achieved on my own and made me question things around me and myself. It forced me into a deep self-analysis that now makes my life richer in many ways.What's your ambition now you've graduated?I would like to reflect on my next steps for a short while, but ultimately I want to continue my digital self-exploration and slowly try to translate parts of my work into the physical.

Marie Issacson
8 of 11

Can you please explain your final collection?The work is about the embodied presence players have with their avatars in MMORPG (Massive Multi Online Role-playing Games) and how to bring those worlds closer together. I wanted to show the two extremes of one's identity, one that is linked with the reality and the second that is not.What has been your biggest inspiration for the collection/project?My interest and inspiration for the work are grounded in the freedom in expressing identity beyond physical boundaries, the understanding of the connection between a player and its avatar, and then if the clothing living in the parallel worlds is informing connections between them.Which fashion designers/creatives would you cite as your biggest inspiration?I admire and am inspired by creatives who have very strong ethical values. What do you think fashion will look like in 10 years?We are constantly moving in between physical and virtual elements so I believe that fashion will come to change its potential as digital technology continues to grow.What's been your highlight during your time studying at RCA?I was awarded The Pokémon Scholarship and, as part of the scholarship, I was given the opportunity to travel to Japan where The Pokémon Company introduced us to Japanese culture. I met amazing people and the whole trip was such a thrill - I will always remember every detail of it.What's your ambition now you've graduated?Finding a job! Right now I want to work for and with a company where I can gain new experiences and meet new challenges.

Peter Donghun Han
9 of 11

Can you please explain your final collection?I would describe it as a representation of our generation. We now live in the world where the question, 'Where are you from?' has become old-fashioned and pointless. I believe that understanding oneself is not about asking their nationality, race, numbers at all anymore. It's about listening to their real stories. It's about paying attention.What has been your biggest inspiration?Above all, every single person I've met in this city, London. As an individual who has come from outside of the UK, the openness that I've seen was very inspiring. Also, paying attention to their stories and thoughts really helped me to understand where we are standing in this world.Which fashion designers/creatives would you cite as your biggest inspiration?Helmut Lang in the Nineties. My favourite. It was all about himself and the people around him.What do you think fashion will look like in 10 years?I believe fashion will be more about connections between other industries, cultures and the world. What's been your highlight during your time studying at RCA?Every single moment. It has become more meaningful to myself after this Covid-19 situation, which made us leave the school during the most precious time. The freedom and beliefs between all the members of the RCA was incredible.What's your ambition now you've graduated?As a young designer who's representing my generation, I want to be braver and more responsible about what I'm trying to talk about. During the last two years at RCA, I've realised how important it is to speak out.

Sam Jamieson
10 of 11

Can you please explain your final collection?My practice currently decodes masculinity in order to explore the relationship between desire, intimacy and community, challenging iconic garments and updating them into a contradiction of tension and rhythmic fluidity. What has been your biggest inspiration?The community and spaces in which I exist. A reaction to gesture, movement and materiality.Which fashion designers/creatives would you cite as your biggest inspiration?Prem Sahib, Nan Goldin and Derek Jarman.What do you think fashion will look like in 10 years?A newfound understanding of value. More authentic voices, more ethical labour, a respect for minorities and our planet. Why wait 10 years? Let's start now.What's been your highlight during your time studying at RCA?The voices, the students and the educators.What's your ambition now you've graduated?Continue to learn and be challenged!

Yufei Hu
11 of 11

Can you please explain your final collection?'Souvenir of time' is the title of my final project. I have been collecting receipts for over seven years. I keep them as my special diary as it records the places I have been to, the items I purchased, the date and the date...I see the beauty of a personal collection as it tells the most intimate [parts] of a person's life. In my work, I always look at the collected object because it tells the story about itself, about the person who uses it and about the time. What has been your biggest inspiration?The documentation of life. I like to use different media. It could be a receipt, an image, a text, a book, a photo, a garment, as long as it reflects the time and story in the process of documenting a moment in life. Which fashion designers/creatives would you cite as your biggest inspiration?Martin Margiela and Cy Twombly. What do you think fashion will look like in 10 years?I think the customer will be very diverse. VR garments, gender fluid garments and hi-tech garments will have more place in the market than right now. Moreover, vintage clothes and sustainable materials will be considered more in designers' collections. What's been your highlight during your time studying at RCA?I formed a much deeper vision of my design world at RCA. It helped me understand that fashion has so many possibilities and a collection could mean something beyond its appearance. What's your ambition now you've graduated?I want to create my own book, more like a magazine I would say. In the meantime, I'm going to do a PhD to go deeper into my research.

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