Fashion students get catwalk ready for Graduate Fashion Week

Date 31.05.2016

With collections inspired by homelessness, bullfighting and even the plastic bag charge, 16 budding fashionistas from the University of Northampton are looking forward to presenting their final year work on the catwalk at this year’s Graduate Fashion Week.

The University’s catwalk show takes place on Monday 6 June and is in partnership with world-leading manufacturer of holistic natural cosmetics, Weleda.

The students have been working on a range of fashion garments, textile prints, footwear and accessories using different fabrics, such as leather, sandwashed silk, and 100 per cent cashmere to create their signature pieces and now have the opportunity to showcase their work to the fashion glitterati, including established designers, journalists and bloggers.

Among the collections will be 20-year-old Gabi Taylor’s print designs which were inspired by a striking image of three glamorous New York women posing in front of a homeless man. Moved by the clash of the two very different lifestyles, Gabi has worked with both silk and wool and has made a lot of handcrafted pieces that have been woven into her collection.

The concern of plastic waste and the recent introduction of the carrier bag charge led to the design idea for Heather Jenkinson’s footwear and accessories collection. The 22-year-old has collaborated on her shoe designs with renowned Northampton-based shoe manufacturer, Church & Co and her handbags with luxury leather supplier, Tusting.

Katy Frost, 21, has created a collection of garments based around the theme of abandonment and feral children. She saw how something sad could turn into something beautiful when the children were found families and homes to grow up in and this gave her inspiration for her designs.

Gabi, Heather and Katy will be joined by 13 other students from the University of Northampton’s BA (Hons) Fashion, BA (Hons) Textiles for Fashion and BA (Hons) Footwear and Accessories courses on the catwalk.

Dr Julie King, Head of Fashion at the University of Northampton said: “Our Fashion students have become widely recognised for their talents and skills in craftsmanship, design and manufacture – and most importantly for being ahead of the design curve. The University of Northampton has long established links with industry, which develops our students’ industry ready employability skills. We were recently included in the top 100 fashion schools in the world by CEOWorld magazine so this speaks volumes about our fashion offering and is testament to our excellent staff and world class facilities.”

Graduates from the University of Northampton are well known and celebrated within the industry. Less than a year since graduating, Ngoni Chikwenengere has already launched her own brand-new fashion label and took the opportunity to showcase her debut collection at London Fashion Week.

In 2014 Helen Kirkum was awarded the inaugural Cordwainers’ Footwear Student of the Year award and was presented with her prize by luxury shoe designer, Jimmy Choo.

Kirandeep Bassan won the Zandra Rhodes Catwalk Textiles Award at Graduate Fashion Week 2013 and was a finalist in the Grazia Magazine 2013 ‘Fash Factor’ competition.

Kerrie Luft, who graduated in 2005 has launched her own footwear brand and was the winner of the Fashion Fringe’s Accessories Prize in 2011.

Rachel Garwood, Director of the Institute for Creative Leather Technologies, said: “The University of Northampton is the global epicentre of leather education and offers students a full working tannery.  This close link with the leather industry offers fashion students a unique opportunity to develop their knowledge and expertise when working with leather. Our students have a complete hide to high street experience of the leather making process, understanding the importance of sustainable and ethical sourcing of the raw materials, through to high end leather working for the fashion and footwear industries.”

Jayn Sterland, Weleda’s Managing Director UK, said: “It’s fantastic to continue to align Weleda with the fashion world in the year that our most iconic product Skin Food celebrates its 90th birthday. We are thrilled to sponsor the University of Northampton’s Graduate Fashion Week catwalk show in 2016 and especially show our support for the designers of the future.”

Graduate Fashion Week takes place from Sunday 5 to Wednesday 8 June at the Truman Brewery in Shoreditch and has been firmly established as the world’s leading event for fashion graduates. To mark its 25th anniversary, Christopher Bailey of Burberry and Victoria Beckham have been appointed as the first lifetime patrons.

Pictured: Gabi Taylor and Katy Frost’s designs