Following Frederik Tjaerandsen’s spectacular standout collection from the BA Central Saint Martins show last summer (dress bubble ballon-like creations that were as insane as they sound and brilliant - and recently shown as part of the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Fashion In Motion series), students from the renowned fashion college’s MA programme had their work cut out in impressing this season. One that also comes at the dawn of a new decade when questions surrounding the future of fashion are incredibly prevalent (with sustainability obviously being a popular topic).
In answering this question, it makes sense to look through a student lens, they the ones who – hopefully – will be moving on up through the ranks in years to come, shaping what it is that will ultimately be the future of fashion. And it’s also at this time of year – aka the autumn/winter season over the spring/summer – when there are the most student shows among the traditional London Fashion Week offering. This evening it was Westminster BA, followed by Central Saint Martins MA: 13 and 21 students respectively for whom, actually, there seemed to be a heavy emphasis on questions over answers.
Understandably, there’s the hangover from Brexit – a growing epidemic in the wind that is negatively impacting fashion and world markets, as well as the continued talk of climate change. All of which amounts to an alarming amount of uncertainty. Sometimes that works in creativity’s favour and sometimes it doesn’t - and the topics explored here seemed more in line with a colossal thesis exploration rather than that of a fashion collection. But who can blame them?
Notably, highlights that stood out did so for a slick silhouette and a clearer, refined vision than those of their counterparts: Westminster’s CJ Tuke’s opening tennis dress look was a complete palette cleanse and each look that followed was concise and neat as if exploring certain tropes and just adding a small though still wearable twist. Fennuala Butterfield, though at times veered too far into McQueen territory, also had a welcome air of the TV show The Young / New Pope about it, which was fun and dramatic.
At Central Saint Martins, one of the winning designers of the evening, Leeann Huang, presented a clever take on kitsch for Sixties-style shifts, some covered in what looked like food moulds, styled with Jamiroquai-style fuzzy hats, alongside A-line coats in vibrant prints. Some were better than others but the overall impact worked well. As did Talia Lipkin-Connor’s svelte skirts-and-tops and dresses which were ribbed and pleated and, according to the designer’s description, “about the ritualistic chaos of the feral women of the Irish Free.”
Overall, one couldn’t help but think Tjaerandsen’s bubble has not been burst just yet.