This four-day event played a packed schedule to thousands of visitors, ending last night with the annual Gala Show. The Gala included a runway populated by the 25 shortlisted ‘Best Collections of Graduate Fashion Week 2017’ and a number of prestigious awards across communications and design.
Heriot-Watt University celebrated as Alannah Cooper nabbed the Fashion Photography Award, whilst 5 of those 25 collections to walk the runway were designed by Edinburgh College of art (ECA) Students; Ruth Williams, Maddie Williams, Frankie Dean, Irene D’Antonio, and Halina North.
Graduate Fashion Week came across throughout the week as really vibrant, relevant, and professional. The international exhibition and runway charity event was declared as the world’s largest gathering of fashion graduates and industry by award host Caryn Franklin.
The event clearly makes it possible for all parts of the industry to get up close and personal with UK and international talent and their portfolios across design and associated skills like communication. It’s a unique opportunity, and an important one at that.
A lot of the big brands, online retailers and major designers were there in force, and a sense of big business was in the air. There was a massive emphasis on sustainable fashion and digital, and a really strong presence from Scottish art colleges and Universities like Glasgow School of Art and Heriot-Watt School of Textiles, plus Edinburgh College of Art who were winning across the board.
ECA snagged the coveted top prize when Halina North’s collection was awarded the Christopher Bailey Gold Award, presented by Holly Fulton.
The Judging Panel sat in private and individually this year, and explained how they had all “chosen [their] winner because it was a collection that had showed a great body of work, it had a great sense of creative development and [was] an interesting collection. It was experimental and had immediate impact during the show.”
To name a few of the well over 100 top industry people involved in delivering this week, that Award’s Panel alone included Anna Clarke of Tu Sainsbury’s, Sadie Frost, Holly Fulton, Matthew Harding and Levi Palmer of Palmer Harding, Sarah Harris, Ryan Lo, Carlos Nazario of Fantastic Man, and Fabio Piras of CSM MA.
Having made quite the impression with the judges, North was also separately awarded the inaugural Hilary Alexander Trailblazer Award sponsored by the exquisite Swarovski.
Impressive, and North’s outstanding collection featured structured garments made from recycled paper and plastics which was really encouraging from our perspective. Many references were made throughout the week that as consumers start to realise more and more the need to shop ethically, British fashion can have a major part to play.
Her sustainable approach was shared by classmate Maddie Williams, whose collection was also made of recycled plastics, including hand woven, reclaimed postal service sacks. Williams was selected by various top judges to win the Catwalk Textiles Award, as well as a three-month internship with Vivienne Westwood, through the GFW Ethical Award.
Fellow ECA student Ruth Williams picked up the award for Visionary Knitwear with a collection of blended structures featuring laser cuts and chunky knits.
And the M&S Womenswear Prize went to ECA’s Irene D’Antonio. This was a collection comprising of vibrant printed textiles, taking inspiration from Japanese Kimonos.
Edinburgh College of Art’s 17 graduates, only 1 of whom was actually born in Scotland, were there en masse with Mal Burkinshaw (ECA Fashion Programme Director). They were saying that reputation, small class sizes and living costs had all helped in their decision to study in our home, and we hope we can persuade them to stay.
Scotland has always had a great reputation for new talent due to our fantastic educational facilities, breadth of manufacturers and archives on hand. Plus our natural enthusiasm for making and the inspirational landscape. The country is also now rapidly developing a name as an outstanding place in which to base a creative business for sustainable, economic and social reasons. We are looking forward to helping support the next generation of talent discover their next steps back home soon.