Graduate Fashion Week: The ones to watch

GFW is the world's largest showcase of emerging design talent. HFM’s editor-at-large Hilary Alexander gives her tip offs on fashion’s future faces...

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It’s the largest showcase of emerging fashion talent in the world and features the final-year collections of more than 1,000 students from 40 UK universities and 30 international colleges. Graduate Fashion Week, which starts on 4th June, helped to launch the careers of designers including Christopher Bailey, Stella McCartney and Giles Deacon. Here, GFW trustee and judge and HFM’s editor-at-large Hilary Alexander shares some of the success stories and gives her tip offs on fashion’s future faces.

Christopher Bailey, chief creative officer at Burberry

Christopher Bailey, chief creative officer of Burberry, is GFW’s most famous ‘old boy’, having won the Gold Award as a Westminster University BA graduate when the event started in 1991. He is a huge supporter of what he calls “an incredibly valuable platform” and is a lifetime patron alongside Victoria Beckham, Dame Vivienne Westwood and photographer Nick Knight.

Other GFW alumni include Glenda Bailey, American Harper’s Bazaar’s editor-in-chief; Jonathan Cheung, head of design at Levi’s, and Carolyn Timson, senior design director at Tommy Hilfiger.

Rosella May is currently employed by Calvin Klein Jeans and plans to launch her own collection in September

Most recently, Amy Powney, a Kingston University GFW star in 2006, now the designer at Mother of Pearl, was the joint winner of the 2017 Vogue/BFC Designer Fund. Grace Weller, ex-Bath Spa University, won both Gold and Womenswear awards in 2014 and now works with designer Alberta Ferretti.

STORY: Pippa Middleton's floor-length wedding dress by British designer Giles Deacon

Last year’s Gold winner, Hazel Symons, from Leicester’s De Montfort University, recently completed an internship with accessory designer Sophie Hulme. Womenswear award winner, Qiwei Jiang, is combining MA studies at the Royal College of Art with working as a design assistant at Marks & Spencer.

Hazel Symons recently completed an internship with accessory designer Sophie Hulme

Rosella May, ex-Nottingham Trent, is currently employed by Calvin Klein Jeans and plans to launch her own collection at Fashion Scout in September. Also launching his label is Rhys Ellis, ex-Birmingham City University, whose recycled GFW collection was recently exhibited in Selfridges. And Genevieve Devine, a Northumbria University graduate who won the GFW Sainsbury’s Scholarship last year, saw her first collection go on sale in 140 Sainsbury’s stores in March.

Giorgia Presti's extravagantly-textured collection, entitled The Lost Treasure of Liberty Island

My picks for this year include: Kingston’s Giorgia Presti will show an extravagantly-textured collection, entitled The Lost Treasure of Liberty Island, inspired by pirates and the navy. Edinburgh College of Art’s Maddie Williams has designed urbanwear for modern goddesses using recyclable materials and old Royal Mail sacks. Gabriella Collins of Plymouth College of Art takes her inspiration from Denmark’s hippie commune Christiania.

Graduate Fashion Week starts on the 4th June at Truman Brewery in London’s Shoreditch. For tickets visit graduatefashionweek.com

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