Celebrating work of the Edinburgh College of Art’s 2014 fashion graduates.
The annual ECA fashion and degree shows are always a major highlight of Edinburgh’s cultural calendar for me. The prestigious school of art attracts students from around the world, and its fashion graduates include the likes of Holly Fulton and Jacob Birge; so on a wet, windy Edinburgh evening a couple of weeks ago, the prospect of an ECA fashion extravaganza was more than an incentive to leave the house and head to the beautiful McEwan Hall to scout Scotland’s rising fashion stars.
I certainly wasn’t disappointed: the work of this year’s fashion, textiles and performance costume graduates showed such creative flair, innovation, craftsmanship and attention to detail that I was completely blown away. So much so that editing this post has been something of a challenge! It’s a rather picture-heavy affair, and I wanted to dedicate a whole post to fourth year fashion, but check back soon for more pictures I plan to post from the rest of the evening.
The ECA is the only fashion school in Scotland to take part in Graduate Fashion Week in London, and the abundant talent I observed made me confident Alba’s fashion credentials will be well represented. Opening the fourth year fashion section of the show was Louis Prier Tisdall; his designs channelled androgynous style in a predominantly neutral palette with highlights of red – I liked the cape coat with PVC panelling, perhaps a modern interpretation of matador style.
Holly Glover’s garments were fit for a modern-day warrior. Fluid lines and beautiful use of proportion created an almost sculptural aesthetic, while natural forms inspired – and were incorporated into – unique accessories. I loved the movement and neutral shades. Read more about Holly’s work here.
Sarah Innes seemed to offer a playful spin on ’90s references in her collection, but her eye for colour – contrasting bright white, fresh lime green and turquoise – felt incredibly modern. Eye-catching silhouettes balanced midi lengths and bold shoulders for a slouchy but tailored look, rendered in technical fabrics.
Briony Campbell-Ross was one of two students to receive sponsorship from heritage lace makers Sophie Hallette; her collection ‘It’s the Tits’ offered a witty spin on Baroque influences. I liked the clever use of layering as well as the combination of regal red and gold. Read Briony’s beautiful blog here.
Catrina Murphy’s collection ‘Kilty Pleasures’ gave new lease of life to everyone’s favourite Scottish print with bright, oversized checks painted onto sheer plastic. I really liked the contrasting use of textures, and details such as the visible brushstrokes made for a truly contemporary take on traditional references.
Designs by Lisa Berry showed superb attention to detail – from those eye-catching headpieces to models’ neon fishnet stockings. The contrast of the bold, neon motifs (buttons, eyes, teeth!) against the black background was incredibly effective. I loved the personality Lisa injected into a simple shift shape.
Bryony Strange contrasted fluid fabrics and graphic checks in designs that were ultra-feminine with a contemporary edge. Combining neutral hues with rich purple and mustard shades created beautiful depth, while sheer and cut-out elements added an element of fragility to the strong silhouettes.
The starting point of Emma Lawrie’s collection was surrealist art, especially the work of Rene Magritte and John Baldessari; she tells me she translated some motifs quite literally – such as the little men wearing bowler hats embellishing some of the garments, and the gradient effect recreated through fine gauge knitting. Her collection focused on different knitting techniques: fine gauge double bed machines created more structured pieces, while a 3 gauge machine was used for the slouchy, tassel coats. Look closely and you’ll see Emma has even experimented with transparent knitted elements too – definitely one to watch.
Master of colour Louise Bell showed how using related shades on the colour spectrum can be simple but effective, clashing fuchsia pink, bright red and earthy orange hues. Oversized collars and lapels and cropped, culotte-style trousers added an androgynous element too, while fluid fabrics kept things feminine.
Sarah Kilkenny showed the creative potential of the humble stripe in her collection: she combined bold, blocky pattern with gorgeous, feminine movement via the fluid cuts of her dresses and skirts. The cropped trousers and midi-length skirts were perfectly balanced by nipped-in waists and strong shoulder detail.
Salwa McGill showed beautiful use of texture and movement in her designs. The subtle use of graphic pattern, contrasted with the draping of the fabric, highlighted an architectural eye. The combination of teal, yellow, mint and grey was fresh and well-balanced. See more about the design process on Salwa’s blog.
Colleen Leitch has a keen interest in photography and tells me she wanted to focus on the effects of light and emotion of the medium in her designs. Colleen is interested in developing new textiles: her garments were made from grip surface mats, heat-pressed to become flat and lose their stickiness, with sequins trapped in between and stitched on top to create a thin, light-reflective leather-look fabric. Colleen used over 153,000 sequins in her collection (re-using vintage sequins to be sustainable) defusing from black to white; the sheer craftsmanship was mind-boggling. Another definite one to watch.
Lillian Archibald’s take on androgynous tailoring showed a keen eye for cut and proportion in her stunning mens’ and womenswear designs. Graphic elements complemented oversized jackets, and the sophisticated colour palette of grey, cream and green with a highlight or two of pale pink, was incredibly effective.
Kirsty Frew also worked with Sophie Halette lace, to stunning effect. Her ultra-feminine designs made beautiful use of texture and movement – just look at the detailing – and had a touch of the gothic about them too. Her floor-sweeping gowns were among the most impressive showstoppers of the evening.
Bella Macleod made playful use of texture and pattern. Her softly tailored designs made the most of tactile fabrics layered over slouchy shapes, with a predominantly sporty aesthetic. Polka dots in various sizes adorned shirt sleeves and waistcoats, while neckties added a dandyish twist.
Check back for more of the ECA fashion show soon! The work of all graduating students will be on display at the ECA Graduate Show from 24 May – 1 June.