It is a legacy of Yorkshire’s rich textile manufacturing heritage that the county is, and has long been, a stalwart and highly respected centre for fashion education and innovation.
Earlier this month, Graduate Fashion Week took place at Coal Drops Yard in London, with students from Leeds Arts University, Leeds Beckett University, the University of Leeds, the University of Huddersfield and Sheffield Hallam University among those taking part in live shows and presentations.
There have been graduate shows across Yorkshire, too, giving emerging designers the chance to showcase their talents to industry employers and fashion media, as well as their proud tutors, families and friends.
Nicola Knight, course leader for BA Fashion Design at Leeds Arts University, said: “We are really proud of what the class of 2022 has achieved, especially as they
had to adapt to blended and online learning throughout some of their degree studies.
“This year they have flourished being back in the university creative community and working in the fashion studios. Many of them took the opportunity to access the wider university workshops to create their own printed fabrics and materials or collaborate with their peers on other courses. The recent fashion show and exhibition was able to be a real celebration of their creativity and individuality.”
LAU students Geordie Campbell-Harris, Andrew Kirkbride, Jade Hong Tran, Jade Nicholson, Joe Ingham and Eve Sheppard all showed at Graduate Fashion Week.
Joe Ingham, who was born in Bradford and was an international model before beginning his degree, designed a gender-fluid graduate collection using organic cottons and linens and his own natural dyeing processes. He will continue to study tailoring.
Alana Willis, from Sutton-in-Craven, taught herself to knit during the pandemic and used drainpipes to create large chunky colourful knits for her collection, which was inspired by Alice in Wonderland and the recent exhibition at the V&A. She said: “My time studying at Leeds Arts University has been truly amazing. I have learned so many skills that I will take with me.”
Ella Gillard is from Glastonbury, where anything goes, she said, adding: “I believe this helped fuel my creativity to really experiment with my own design and illustrative work from an early age.” Ella worked with Yorkshire designer Mary Benson as part of her course.
Meanwhile, seven students from Leeds Beckett University’s Leeds School of Arts also showcased their collections at Graduate Fashion Week. Retailers at Coal Drops Yard chose student work to feature in their stores throughout the week: Cos chose Breaking Free From OCD by Grace Deacon; Fred Perry chose Django Docks by Polly Coleman, and Tom Dixon chose XX121 by Diandra Dicu and Extreme Winters by Niamh Molloy.
On the catwalk, there were designs by Rebecca Sherrington, Megan Turbett and Anna Stubley, from York, whose collection is called On the Set of Down with Love, after the 1962 bedroom comedy. Anna has landed a job in a Netflix costume department.
Course director for BA (Hons) Fashion Sam Hudson-Miles said: “The fashion team at Leeds Beckett University encourages our students to express their individual, diverse identities through their unique approaches to fashion thinking. Synthesising experimental practice and theory enables our students to create original work in a saturated marketplace; work that rejects the world of fast fashion in favour of innovation, sustainability and longevity.
“We celebrate our class of 2022, particularly in recognition of the extraordinary journey that they’ve experienced through their degree.”
University of Huddersfield graduate Lucy Brown, from Huddersfield, won first prize in the Textile Design category at the prestigious Fashanne Designers of the Future awards with a collection inspired by mental health challenges and the HBO series Euphoria. “Mental health is important to me, having lost a friend recently to suicide, so I wanted to make my collection inspired by struggle but also using the influence of Euphoria’s costume design and plot lines,” she said. “I want the prints to evoke emotions and encourage people to be open about their mental wellbeing.”
Also in the Fashanne Awards, Georgina Walls was runner-up to Lucy, while Nadia Hadh rami was runner-up in Womenswear Design, and Emily Oakes was runner-up in Athleisure Design.
“It’s the first time Huddersfield has won at Fashanne, and it really is a great achievement, especially as these students have studied mostly through the pandemic,” said Devabrata Paramanik, course leader in Fashion Design and Textiles.
“Fashion with textiles has a very strong heritage because fashion and textile design have been together for a long time. When we see boundaries being pushed by Lucy and Georgina, we see that Huddersfield can achieve so much.”
* Videography by Rose Cameron.
* Arts Fest 2022 organised by Leeds Arts University celebrates the work of postgraduate students until Thursday at venues across Leeds city centre, including the Merrion Centre, Kirkgate Market, St John’s Centre, Victoria Gate and Victoria Quarter.