Following from our previous review of the impressive collections by the 2012 graduates of the Royal College of Art (RCA)’s Menswear programme, it is now time for The Style Examiner to analyse the outstanding work produced by graduates from the Womenswear course. If all 18 students who showed their womenswear collections on the runway on 31 May 2012 revealed very proficient skills, the following stood out for their ingenuity and accomplished technical skills.
Before joining the RCA, Apu Jan completed a BA course in Textile and Fashion Design: Knitwear from the Fu-Jen Catholic University, New Taipei City, in Taiwan, and worked as fashion designer for Fenn Wright Manson in London, and for Kingsley in China. Jan’s dramatic knitwear pieces seemed to have found inspiration in Victorian and Edwardian mourning dresses in the way they incorporated long oversized lines and ruffled layers. However, Jan deconstructed the rigidity of the period by building asymmetrical lines and introducing details such as oversized collars, unusually long sleeves and contrasting fringes that added a strong sense of texture to the garments.
Claire Zeng completed a BA Hons in Fashion Design Innovation from the University for the Creative Arts, and worked for Omnialuo in China and Alexander McQueen in London before starting her Womenswear Fashion course at the RCA. Her graduating collection relied on balancing bold patterns and vivid colours (such as bright pink and orange) against black. This mix of opposing shades mirrored the choices made for aptly chosen eclectic materials (including silk, wool, and plastic) that were combined to provide elegant structural framing lines to mini-dresses and coats.
Daniel Pollitt studied Fashion Design at Manchester Metropolitan University and honed his sartorial skills at Armondi and Roland Mouret. His collection revealed a highly confident mastery of structure in the processes of designing and producing fashion by engendering garments made of combined materials such as wool and leather in very architectural shapes.
Also a graduate from Manchester Metropolitan University’s BA Hons Fashion course, and with professional experience gained at Gareth Pugh and Topshop Design, Holly Russell produced one of the most seductive womenswear collections shown this year. Her skilful layering of chiffon, leather, wool, and metallic fabrics allowed for the creation of well-balanced and elegantly elongated silhouettes.
Julia Ida Mackenroth, who came to the RCA with a Foundation qualification in Art and Design: Fashion from the University of Applied Sciences, and experience at Ehinger-Schwarz in Germany, produced a strong knitwear range of oversized cardigans in asymmetrical lines and ombré effects that alternated with feminine bejewelled column dresses in black wool. Shades of orange, salmon, and blue added brightness to garments essentially made of black, white and grey fabrics.
A graduate from the BA Hons course in Fashion Design from the University for the Creative Arts, Lorren Johnson worked as a technical drawer for Jonathan Saunders before enrolling at the RCA. Her graduating collection relied on effective combinations of differing volumes, textures, patterns and colours. If the amalgamation of opposites is a challenge that fashion students sometimes fail to resolve, in Johnson’s case the results were unquestionably successful. This was a collection clearly thought-through in terms of combining figurative and abstract patterns or voluminous bell-shaped sleeves with harem pants or leg-hugging trousers.
Peiran Gong, who studied Fashion Design at undergraduate level at Tsinghua University in Beijing, produced a collection of garments imbued with feminine traits. Shades of blue and pink alternated with abstract geometric patterns and, to add a touch of sophisticated detailing, trompe l’oeil shapes and patterns were created by layering prints and pleated fabric.
Rajinder Johal revealed a cohesive range of column dresses and cat suits in a bright shade of blue accentuated by dark blue trimming and panelling as well as gold applications. Inspired by 1970s images of American luxury and minimalist fashion, this was a solid collection that emphasised female body shapes with passion.
Samantha Bushell, who studied Textile Design: Knitwear at Winchester School of Art, developed a triumphant range of knitwear for her graduation collection at the RCA that combined distinct luxury wools and geometric patterns in an elegant way. Seemingly irregular alignment of stripes and squares (that simultaneously evoked Russian Constructivist paintings and Art Deco objets d’art) were laid out in belted coats and combinations of tops and skirts. In addition, a couple of body-hugging sleeveless wool dresses with vertical stripes contributed to an overall feel of lavish sophistication.
Photographs courtesy of RCA/Dominic Tschudin