Monday, 14 June 2010

Graduate Fashion Week 2010

If I knew then ...

Cora Elizabeth Drew's graduate collection from the University of Northumbria

The moment you know you are on the brink of adulthood, is the moment when it’s clear to you, that there are things that you know that you don’t know, and even if you did know those things that you don’t know, no one out there knows you, … and the only thing that you do know with any certainty, is that they know, they don’t know you either! Up to this point of course, you knew it all, .. that happiest of conditions being innocence, and beyond the threshold, simple ignorance.

Anticipating the London College of Fashion's catwalk show

I looked around the hundred upon hundred of buoyant innocents at the Graduates last week, and saw myself at that same delicate place in life, emerging in my case, not from a University but rather into the University of Life, it’s faculty at that point being Vogue Studios in 1950s London.

It was not long into my second year there when I received those glorious words “assignment”, “Italy”, “Henry Clarke” and Elsa Martinelli”  all in the same sentence and found myself blustering towards Sicily on the only airplane I’d ever seen the inside of, my mind racing away to the rhythm of the Dakota’s propeller engines. Excitement had already given way to fear as I disembarked, and I walked off the runway with an outstretched arm thrusting by way of defense my British Passport at any unsolicited gazes, of which there must have been many!

With no one to meet me, I accepted the offer of a taxi, and although surprised took it as normal that everyone these days made their way from airports to Vogue shoots by horse drawn cart….or .. did they?  I was just starting to realise the sheer enormity of those things I didn’t even know I needed to know.

Sophie McKay - Westminster graduate 2010

What of the Graduates? Well, I have to impart here that Graduates Fashion Week has spread over into what now amounts to a Graduates Fortnight. Before the official week began I had already photographed London College of Fashion, Central St Martins and a few others including Westminster. Westminster’s Fashion course is headed up by Andrew Groves, and I must say the standard of his graduates did set the bar before GFW even began.

Faye Chamberlain - University of Northumbria graduate 2010

But the real litmus test for the Graduate vibe, is to get out there and mingle. There is more to the week than just Catwalk shows, each college has a stand in the exhibition hall where potential employers, agencies and press members can chat to graduates or look through their portfolio’s and talk to course tutors. I drifted around and watched the new hopefuls or more importantly what they were wearing.

Nikola Mikolajczyk, Julia Zajac and Amber Upton

Milling about at Graduates Fashion Week
Celebrity support for the up and coming creatives were :

Actor Bonnie Wright, singer Eliza Doolittle and Sugababe Amelle Berrabah

Graduate of the year winner Rebecca Thomson with her mother after receiving her award. She graduates from the Manchester School of Art

I don't recall whether my mother saw me off at the airport, but then there is so much to remember about those few absolutely fabulous days in the Italian sun. Sicily was so exotic to me, and I to it, a young upstart Geordie from Ilford, an incongruous presence in both Italy and the Fashion world, still wearing my ration book wardrobe, singing quietly and spontaneously at the dinner table from the headiness of the wine I wasn't used to.

Ignorance however does sometimes have it's advantages, and not everyone can say they learned to eat Spaghetti under the careful tuition of Elsa Martinelli. Mmmmmmm, would it ever taste the same again?