Graduate Fashion Week 2013 (GFW2013)

Earls Court EntranceDSCN4241 DSCN4240


GFW is infamous for catapulting creative up-& coming designers into the fashion industry. Stella McCartney & Christopher Bailey are but a few and this year at London’s Earl’s Court, I got to see first-hand the next big thing to take the fashion industry by storm.

The exhibition hall was vast and packed  40+ fashion education establishments all showcasing their final year students portfolios and clothing lines. Alongside the stands, students had an exclusive opportunity to have an intimate lecture with industry professionals such as Henry Holland and Victoria Beckham. I watched Hilary Alexander’s interview with the legendary photographer Nick Knight, his words were both inspirational: “You are the new fashion industry”, “If you are talented, keep doing it,” and insightful: “Fashion has never been so exciting”, “Fashion needs a critical medium”,  [talking about fashion film]“it needs to grasp you in the right way …its a moment between you, the model and the dress.”
I was lucky to chat to Nick on a one to one afterwards about his views on social media & new technology & how both are revolutionising fashion  – all of which I’ll will be blogging about it later so keep an eye out!

The buzz on the run-up to the grand finale last night was electric! At the reception we all sipped  champagne and were tempted by Blacks ice-cream whilst mingling with the likes of Zandra Rhodes, Henry Holland & Caryn Franklin (NB ‘The Clothes Show’ will be returning to a Youtube channel soon!).  During the ‘Best of’ graduate catwalk show that showcased the finalists, I was given a seat at the front row next to Drapers Peter Bruce-Smythe, Hillary Alexander & a model who’s name escapes me. (perhaps you can identify in the pic below?)
According to one student I spoke to before the show they had just 6x months to complete their final collections which was pressure enough, let alone the pressure to put together their first catwalk: “it was so stressful… the pressure to get it right was immense, but I’d definitely do it again!”  Watching the show though you would never have guessed, as each piece was made to such a high standard marrying different textures & innovative designs, the creativity was literally oozing from the catwalk.

My favourite was Angus Chun from See Chein Uni and Norwenn Faligot from Kingston Uni who’s coats were divine!

The winner of the coveted £20k George Gold Award who will now work with the George (Asda) team  to turn their collection into a limited edition went to Edinburgh College of Art student Lauren Smith.

George Gold Award: Lauren Smith, Edinburgh College of Art
Womenswear Award: Hannah Williams, UCA Epsom
Menswear Award: Shauni Douglas & Olivia Creber, Edinburgh College of Art
Zandra Rhodes Catwalk Textile Award: Kirandeep Bassan, Northampton University
Stuart Peters Visionary Knitwear Award: Thea Saunders, Nottingham Trent University

The event was a huge success &  cemented how important it is to help young designers get a foothold in the fashion industry.  As a presenter, I will continue to follow new designers & wear their clothes on camera where possible to help promote them, but as Peter Bruce-Smythe rightfully said to me, “we all need to do our part to support new designers.”  Peter,  I couldn’t agree more.

(Most pics below are captioned & all are © Alex Willis-Bray)

Previous winnersZandra Rhodes DSCN4250DSCN4252DSCN4248DSCN4249DSCN4382 DSCN4381 Hilary Alexander interviewing Nick KnightDSCN4379 DSCN4378 DSCN4239DSCN4377 DSCN4375DSCN4245Hosts - Zara Martin & Henry HollandNicolas Wirth - Institute Marangoni Josephine Pettman - Ravensbourne UniShauni Douglas & Olivia Creber -  Edinburgh uni Georgina Jazz Burns - Central Lancashire Uni Stephanie Kitchen - Bath Spa UniStephen Garvey - Arts Uni BornmouthAdam Jones - Manchester School of ArtsWINNER - Lauren Smith - Edinburgh College of Art William Baxter - Ravensbourne Uni Thea Sander - Nottingham Trent UniPatricia Williams - RavensbourneHelen Senior - De Montfort UniKirandeep Bassan - Northapton Uni Norwenn Faligot - Kingston UniAsran Eso - Nottingham Trent UniRubina Khanun - Salford Uni Kim philips - De Montfort Uni Olivia Peszynski - Manchester School of ArtAlex Lauren Wilsbranham - UCLAN Juliena Siqeira - Istituto MarangoniChen Yu Wang - Ravenbourne Lucinda Popp - Kingston UniJennifer Lowther - Northampton UniLauren Dutton - UCA Rochester View from my seat on the FROW Angus Chun - See Chein UniHannah Williams - UCA EpsomContents of my FROW goodie bag

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