3 Central Saint Martins Fashion Collections You Don’t Want To Miss In 2020
For the last two months, the infamously fast-paced fashion industry has come to a halt as the world has entered an almost complete lockdown because of the coronavirus. Shops stay closed, ateliers and design studios remain deserted and its excessive pool of labour isolates at home among billions of others globally.
With developing news about several countries starting to gradually ease the COVID-19 measurements, still stuck at home are the millions of students studying at arts and fashion institutes. As extensive lockdowns were imposed mid-March, students enrolled in creative courses were going into their final semester of university and entering their last time of education.
The prestigious Central Saint Martins provided the industry with greats as Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, Riccardo Tisci, just to name drop a few. Therefore it doesn’t come as a surprise that tickets to its graduate end of the year show are in high demand, as guests wait for the next raising designer on the London Fashion Week schedule to amaze them.
But at the moment, these students are not only facing the possibility to not be able to graduate but also that they won’t have a chance to showcase their final collections to crucial figures within the industry, in the course of their school’s graduate show or exhibition.
With even the industry’s biggest designers, brands, and fashion houses fighting to keep their doors open post-pandemic, the future of these soon-to-be-graduates looks uncertain. The world of fashion – which is already hard enough to manoeuvre into – appears even more challenging than ever before for the young fashion designers. But many of them are ready to face the industry’s overwhelming landscape.
In light of this, and while courses are still on hold, _shift talked to three CSM MA students who are among the brightest nearly-grads, about their final collection and the future of the fashion industry: meet the class of COVID-19.
LEEANN HUANG – MA FASHION TEXTILES
Inspired by utopian futures and seductive imagery, childhood TV shows like the Powerpuff Girls and Totally Spice, Leeann Huang based her graduate collection on her “plastic fantastic childhood fantasy of the future”. Looking at female action heroes conquering their enemies and systematic oppression, the designer reflects on: “Transcending nostalgia from the past and overcoming anxieties about the future, this collection turns a female-centric future fantasy into a reality.”
Made from recycled and vacuum-formed bottles that are used for beads and trompe l’oeil handbags, holographic prints and colour-changing lenticular effects, to recycled fishnets used for fluffy-faux furs, and TPU raincoats, Huang visualises a camp parade of beautifully orchestrated garments. Influenced by the famous 60s haircut – the mod – the collection is future-looking and free-moving with a simple cut. It is, “familiar clothing with a surreal textile application”.
“At the moment I don’t know how a young graduate fits into an industry like this” – Leeann Huang
The MA fashion textiles graduate hopes this time gives both big and small brands a moment to reassess their part within the industry. “Perhaps slowing down, hopefully treating people more humanely, and cutting down on fast fashion, will be a nice change for the industry”, says Huang. “At the moment I don’t know how a young graduate fits into an industry like this for now. I think it’s ok not to know how things will turn out though. I’ll just take things as they come.”
JOHANNA PARV – MA FASHION WOMENSWEAR
“From observing the modern urban woman, constantly in motion, this collection investigates the functionality of womenswear, asking how to retain your elegance in the urban environment, where everyone’s speeding on their vehicles toward the next destination; when everything is to the max”, explains MA womenswear student Johanna Parv. The young Estonian designer draws inspiration from her relationship with cycling. “I was hoping to change the perception and focus on how we perceive female bodies and power in the city environment”. Existing out of elegant activewear that re-imagines the hyper-feminine silhouette of the 50s New Look combined with the functionality of sportswear, the collection is a symbiosis between the power of the body and femininity.
“I was hoping to change the perception and focus on how we perceive female bodies and power in the city environment.” – Johanna Parv
But for now, Parv sees the importance of “valuing the exciting and slowing it down to a human pace again. Looking around, what do we need? What could be different?”
ALEXANDRA ARMATA – MA FASHION WOMENSWEAR
Reflecting on Soviet-era Polish fashion throughout her perspective of growing up in Canada, Alexandra Armata connected “personal memories and historical references” for her final collection. Being one of the fortunate students that completed their MA in February – before London went into lockdown – Armata found her inspiration in family pictures, mainly those of Krakow under the Soviet Regime. “The clothing in the photos were normal and incredibly brutal, as their technical construction was questionable. People mostly made their clothes due to importing restrictions and I found all of these elements incredibly exciting,” she says. The result, a collection of technical imperfections, dramatic seams and forms, awkward and elusive flower prints, subtle drawings on pink blouses, and ankle-length skirts. The collection unfolds a personal note – or maybe even a love letter – to the heritage of Polish fashion during the influence of the Soviet Union.
“I’m sceptical because the people who have good ideas and are willing to make changes aren’t always the ones who are in a position to make a difference.” – Alexandra Armata
“Historically, times like these present amazing opportunities for innovation but the uncertainty of the situation can be a little immobilizing as well. On one hand, I find it inspiring to try to figure out what can be improved and how I can contribute. On the other hand, sometimes I’m a cynic and I’m worried that nothing will change,” Armata explains about her view on the future of the fashion industry post-COVID-19. “I’m sceptical because the people who have good ideas and are willing to make changes aren’t always the ones who are in a position to make a difference.”