It’s one thing knowing what you ‘want to be when you grow up’ at the age of five, but eighteen, not so easy. Schooling finishes in a flurry, and suddenly it is time to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life... time to get on the never ending career ladder... the whole thing is terrifying, and of my school friends only two were really ready to embark on adult life and get started on their careers. One of these ambitious friends is Elena Crehan, a creative creature with fiery orange hair and a vitality for life that never ceases to astound me. Having just finished her fashion degree at Brighton, I was invited along to the graduate show to see the final collections and creations.
The show took place in a kooky venue in Angel, called Candid Arts. My friend and I instantly felt painfully out of place, surrounded by hip fashion students wearing outfits that in some cases barely resembled clothes, but instead a drape of material arranged effectively around their body. Our El was barely to be seen, darting all over the place organising the hoards of guests, models and press people. On entering we were greeted with a tall glass of Pimms, and then took our places in the buzzing press area, neighbours of the frantic photographers. Our position meant we were on the receiving end of the model’s piercing stares and glaring poses.
After a brief welcome and introduction the music pumped and the models began striding confidently towards us. Eighteen students were exhibiting, each with about six different looks – so about 108 entrances in 108 unique outfits. Each student’s collection seemed to have a theme, a certain thought that united each of the garments into a team. Along with the clothes many of the models were adorned with fabulous stick on eyebrows and eyelashes, accentuating an androgynous or quirky look.
I was instantly amazed by the sheer quantity each designer had produced, and the incredible attention to detail - obviously each garment had taken a painstaking amount of time to construct. For me, as a keen fashionista, but by no means an expert, I was fascinated and impressed with everyone’s work. Not one collection disappointed. There were a few pieces that I particularly liked, either for the reason that the clothing was so beautiful, an artwork in itself, or because I thought to myself ‘I would really like to wear that.’
First up was Sophia Messina who presented an interesting men’s collection. Experimenting with materials each model came out with unusual straw platform shoes. Rachel Brooks utilised the girl’s slim line figures with slinky long trousers and a fabulously droopy hat, that I would love to borrow for holidays in the sun. I adored Lucy Fisher’s passionately red series, tent-like sporty hooded jackets paired with bright white chunky trainers. Adele Ahrens showed off a very wearable collection of bright floaty tops and a stunning full length gown. John Holt’s gold jumper caused quite a stir, a fluffy sparkling top that he modelled himself on the catwalk!
Eventually it was time for El’s showcase, an arresting collection of texture crazed garments, cleverly named ‘Do You Think Shesaurus?!’ In describing her spring/summer capsule collection El said: “The hand worked Stegasaur pleating technique has been used obsessively throughout to create a geometric silhouette while remaining true to original research in Mexican dolls, corn dolly’s and the proportions of children’s wear as well remaining fresh and above all things fun!”
I particularly loved the potato printed legwear - black Miro-esque shapes mark the white material to create an intricate and funky pattern. All of it was breathtaking and could easily be mistaken for the work of a fully established designer.
I was sad when it was all over, the swarm of models and designers all clapping their way round the catwalk circuit, displaying for one last time the magical designs that had fully occupied these talented graduates for so long. I left knowing there were certainly a few names to watch from the Brighton class of 2011.