Polly Chen: The Lover’s Eye.

A Look at the University of Westminster’s BA Fashion Graduate Show 2024 Nurturing Tomorrow’s Innovators

The University of Westminster BA Fashion course is a leader in technical excellence and cultural marketing relevance within the discipline. Under the directorship of Rosie Wallin, the institution’s mission is to deliver visionary, responsible, employable graduates and the most creative, driven, original thinkers with the capacity to shape the contemporary fashion industry. BA Fashion guides students at this early moment in their careers, in unearthing their personal design philosophy and opens them up to direct industry experiences, to prepare them for what might lie ahead, should they pursue fashion beyond the BA level. BA Fashion University of Westminster was the first ever undergraduate course that was invited onto the London Fashion Week schedule in 2018. Amongst its alumni are Ashley Williams, Claire Barrow, Stuart Vevers, Liam Hodges, Markus Lupfer and Katie Hillier.

The BA (Hons) Fashion Design Course at the University of Westminster has an international reputation for producing world-class graduates who populate global design teams at every level of the market. Past alumni include Steven Stokey Daley, Paolo Carzana and Ashley Williams and many more hold senior design positions at Burberry, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton and Margiela to name just a few. Our graduates are highly sought after due to the combination of creative and technical skills that the course is known for. Quality of construction and finish has always been key to the course DNA. Recent course developments include a focus on sustainability, diversity and digital skills including cutting-edge software CLO3D. This year’s graduates show an impressive range of concepts and competencies from working with 3D printing and embroidery to exquisite tailoring and innovative print. The variety and breadth of the collections shown today is a testament to the calibre and dedication of the students and the staff team who support them.

Course Director Rosie Wallin

Isabel Ealand: Subverting the spectacle

The drama and jeopardy of Victorian circus performers have inspired designer Isabel Ealand to create her innovative 21st-century womenswear. Dynamic movement is depicted, and weight and resistance are explored through fabric choices and striking silhouettes. A long, ivory jersey dress features precise, circular cutouts with dramatic inset Perspex mirror circles and hoops. The beautiful, theatrical contrast of the matt and sheen of duchesse satin is used to maximum effect. A coat features Perspex mirror hoops that move and swing. Suspended in jersey, mirror circles distort fabric to create exciting, futuristic shapes.

Olivia Stewart: ‘It’s just clothes’

For Scottish designer Olivia Stewart, the fashion industry often feels overwhelmingly serious, leading her to question, “Why am I doing this?” The collection is an exploration into rediscovering Olivia’s childhood joy of choosing clothes. Personal eclectic references include the UGG boot, the Michael Kors’ Voyager tote, a Primark camo parka and the ubiquitous sequin body-con. By subverting recognisable garments and fabrics, she recalls mass fashion favourites so that her work feels oddly familiar and strangely nostalgic. An oversized sequin becomes the perfect balance of silly and chic. ‘It’s just clothes’ succeeds as a personal endeavour to give clothing its sparkle back.

Lydiah Holder: Honouring Melrose

Inspired by the vibrancy and comfort of her beloved late grandmother’s home, menswear designer Lydiah Holder pays homage to both her and the Windrush generation through this joyful, flamboyant collection. Referencing design evolution through 50’s and 70’s style, Lydiah’s re-imagined graphic prints echo the bold statement wallpaper and the confident, cool looks discovered in old family photographs. Soft velvets, wool, satin and faux suede are used in an uncompromising palette of camel, teal, plum and purple to evoke the resilient Caribbean spirit and celebrate its influential, enduring impact on British culture.

Lydiah Holder: Honouring Melrose
Lydiah Holder: Honouring Melrose

Lydia Pipili: Timeline

Through a very personal tribute, designer Lydia Pipili seeks to offer protection and relief to the inspiring women in her family who have endured hardship to survive. Driven by esteem for her grandmother, Lydia depicts her resilience and determination through creative silhouettes that shield the wearer from surrounding threats, incorporating structures to carry the burdens of adversity. Devised as a timeline, family photographs are used as a reference for crucial stages of life – favourite childhood outfits recall moments of joy. Key pieces include a ‘wedding dress’ to express hope and signal a brighter future.

Joseph Brimicombe: The End Is Never

Reflecting on what he has learnt, lost and re-discovered as a designer, Joseph Brimicombe reveals a truly accomplished men’s ready-to-wear collection. His complex, layered looks feature hard-wearing denim, drill and jersey fabrics softened with bold, distinctive knitwear. Soft, expansive scarves and blankets cocoon the wearer. Detailed outerwear surfaces are created using techniques such as laser-engraving and smocking building further dynamic dimensions. 

Joseph Brimicombe: The End Is Never
Joseph Brimicombe: The End Is Never
Joseph Brimicombe: The End Is Never
Joseph Brimicombe: The End Is Never

Markos Tranakas: Linear Principles and Infinite Progressions’

Through his dynamic and arresting work, designer Markos Tranakas strives to redefine the lost elegance of mid-century style. Vibrant clashes of plum, viridian, chartreuse and marine blue are used in precise forms that create chic, uncompromising pieces. A passion for the Constructivist, Spatialist and Optic Art movements inspired Markos to use diverse artistic references for his dramatic shapes using the finest Laurent Garigue wool; Barbara Hepworth, Naum Gabo, Victor Vasarely and the sliced canvases of Lucio Fontana are all referenced in this beautiful, bold statement.

Rachael Tyler: Salary men

The impactful photos of the dishevelled salarymen of Tokyo by Pawel Jaszczuk have inspired designer Rachael Tyler’s playful menswear collection. Challenging conventions of traditional business wear, Rachael uses unexpected fabrics, softening the norm of the sharp silhouette. The skewed necktie of an English schoolboy sports a classic crest and is celebrated for its disarray. Formal shapes with exaggerated shoulders inspired by the 1980s are contrasted with the softness of undergarments. Homing in on ‘what lies beneath’ she exposes underwear, vests and sock garters meant to remain unseen.

Jessica Parry: Outdoor couture

Jessica Parry’s experimental statement pieces playfully flirt with volume and movement. A modern mash-up of her personal, innate sporty style and event-worthy drama results in this fun, creative clash. Unconventional waterproof nylon and functional rip-stop are used for bold, bright block colour dresses that embrace and celebrate movement. Couture draping methods are combined with sportswear materials to create exciting and surprising silhouettes. Moving the party to the great outdoors, Jessica brings a fresh irreverence to fashion.

Blythe Brunt: The Mechanic’s Day Off.

Unique, playful and inventive, Blythe Brunt’s womenswear is inspired by an unusual passion for classic cars of the 60s and 70s. Working and spending time in a mechanic’s workshop, Blythe’s imagination is sparked by the endless moving parts, abstract shapes, seals and wires of a functional engine. The designer creates a fun, surreal world where womenswear shapes are drawn from period mechanic’s boiler suits spark plugs and car chassis. Vintage promotional booklets for Fiat and images of racing legends are used in striking prints. Real, discarded car parts feature throughout, including headlights and the dyeing and patching of 50-year-old leatherette from car seats.

Paolo Iacobucci: Ode to Italy

Designer Paolo Iacobucci’s affectionate but irreverent look at the stereotypes of his Italian homeland has led to this fun, inventive menswear collection. Eclectic inspiration is gathered from random sources such as pasta, the Mafioso, sipping wine in Positano, cycling jerseys and Nonna’s house. Paolo’s delight in colour and print defines this bright, cheeky statement. Hand-drawn, child-like cartoon crayon prints stand out, while key pieces include the ‘spaghetti’ jacket and a bright red satin ‘Italian Stallion’ shirt adorned with appliqued 3D roses.

Reece Sheikh: Armoured Damsel

From the historic concept of the ‘Damsel in Distress’, Reece Sheikh creates inventive, romantic womenswear that empowers the wearer. Referencing the paintings of the Romantic era and a poem by John Keats’ La Belle Dame sans Merci, Reece creates exciting and complex looks in soft, shadowy neutrals. Silhouettes play with restriction and release, strapping, padding and encasement. Gothic distress is depicted through a powerful array of layered textures – revealing truly impressive hand-craft skills. Purposefully frayed and pieced-together surfaces, metallic glazes, leatherwork and clever padded protective pieces echo a dark and dream-filled bygone age.

Reece Sheikh: Armoured Damsel
Reece Sheikh: Armoured Damsel

Mila Nikcevic: Belgrade Boys

Laced with affection and humour, Mila Nikcevic’s menswear is inspired by the peculiarities of early 90s style in the former Yugoslavia. As the country transitioned through deep societal change, branded goods were scarce, highly prized and became symbols of success. Men’s fashion, heavily influenced by sportwear styling was eclectic, individual and often exhibitionist. Mila mixes these references with memories of her father’s family – pixellated imagery recalls decorative tiles from old church buildings. Macho posturing is tempered with campness, toughness mixed with curious cuteness, and tracksuits juxtaposed with formal wear for a unique, colourful and fresh direction.  

Stavri Grigori: Past and present

Greek tradition and the heritage of folk festivals have influenced designer Stavri Grigori’s sexy, inventive looks. Combining earthy goat hair with the sheen and delicacy of lilac and pistachio Moiré satin, Stavri creates distinctive modern womenswear. Juxtaposing historic carnival references, including bells and goatskin, with details derived from modern lingerie and corsetry makes for a striking and memorable collection. 

Soraya Behzadi: Bicycle Thieves

Inspired by monochrome photographs and cinema of 50s Italy – in particular the atmospheric film, Ladri di Bicilette (Bicycle Thieves), Soraya Behzadi creates a detailed ode to luxury with her beautiful menswear collection. Dynamic draping and precise attention to detail characterise this strikingly elegant statement. Paying homage to impeccable Italian tailoring staples, the designer adds an unmistakable, playful twist. Subtle, modern layering quietly elevates and softens sharp 50s tailoring shapes for a sophisticated and accomplished debut. 

Soraya Behzadi: Bicycle Thieves
Soraya Behzadi: Bicycle Thieves

Konthorn Wutthiwongangkhana: Memories of Place. A Biography

A passion for creative pattern cutting, tailoring and leather work drives the exciting work of Konthorn Wutthiwongangkhana. High-contrast colour pieces sit alongside stark black and white which draws influence from the work of Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama. Further inspiration comes from personal memories, East-West life experience, and invaluable time spent as an intern at JW Anderson. Clever, adaptable and functional detailing gives the wearer numerous styling options. Perfecting proportion and fit remains essential to the designer’s process alongside an uncompromising standard of finish.

Konthorn Wutthiwongangkhana: Memories of Place. A Biography
Konthorn Wutthiwongangkhana: Memories of Place. A Biography

Milla Hanney: The Lost Toys

The faded beauty of beloved childhood toys and the comfort of home has inspired Milla Hanney’s dramatic womenswear. Tattered and worn childhood teddy bears influence the rich, textural hand-crafted surfaces in Milla’s striking pieces. Elsewhere, discarded bears are used to hand-print abstract shadowy shapes. Nostalgic book illustration, dreams of childhood and an adult’s obsession with collecting toy cars give a further surreal, playful edge. Soft, romantic and complex silhouettes are contrasted with mischievous accessories using the vibrant primary metallics of assembled toy cars. 

Tom Rowe: Beside the Seaside

Inspired by 70s photographs of family holidays on the Isle of Wight and his personal memories, Tom Rowe’s imaginative, light-hearted response is a breath of seaside fresh air. Myriad references are drawn from the intricate details of piers, fairground architecture, unpredictable weather and even the process of changing clothes in beach huts. Twisted pieces reflect the vagaries of the British climate, and memories of ‘carrying too much stuff’ to the beach led to the creation of a unique ‘smock’ which incorporates backpack details. Stand-out jeans are re-created from old garments and echo the spiral of a favourite ‘Helter-Skelter’ ride.

Tak Fung: Night Shift

Creating a tour-de-force of clever, creative menswear, Tak’s collection is multi-layered with many references to his Hong Kong roots. Each look is meticulously considered and beautifully finished to high standards that were honed through an influential internship at Givenchy in Paris. Tak’s inventive experimentation pushes tame menswear silhouettes into new, exciting territory. Imaginatively playing with volume and detailing, the designer looks to the architecture of Hong Kong, paying respect to his father through subtle references to his job as a bus driver. Red light sequins, bus seat covers and satin inserts form the inspiration for just part of this accomplished, impressive debut.  

Tak Fung: Night Shift
Tak Fung: Night Shift

Jamina Ziebart: Feeling and flow

Purity of line and simplicity of form defines Jamina Ziebart’s superbly elegant collection. Inspiration is drawn from the book, Feminine Futures – Performance, Dance, War, Politics, and Eroticism – celebrating the pioneering women of the early 20th Century who revolutionised dance, art and performance. Jamina’s beautiful draping uses viscose crepe and colour is derived from the work of Swiss artist, Sophie Henriette Gertud Tauber-Arp, who was also a dancer. Jamina’s pieces appear effortless, but in fact are technically challenging – a finely tuned balancing act of weight and volume. Using her own body as a mannequin, Jamina’s singular, instinctive style considers the visceral ‘feeling’ of a piece as key to success.

Jessica Storey: I Only Mark the Hours That Shine.

The life of ‘Little Edie’ and her dilapidated mansion, Grey Gardens, in East Hampton NY, was the catalyst for designer Jessica Storey’s distinctive collection. Referencing ’60s fashion and exploring the processes of decay, mutation and re-use, she reanimates a grand life fallen on hard times. Using a mix of both modern and hand-craft techniques: embroidery, hand casting, 3D printing and laser-cutting techniques she creates an exciting interplay between past and present.

Jessica Storey: I Only Mark the Hours That Shine.
Jessica Storey: I Only Mark the Hours That Shine.

Theo Ike: Open World Sewing

A lifelong fascination with the natural world inspires Theo Ike’s unique approach to his craft. Speculating on possible future climate scenarios, referencing diverse research including physical geography, natural hazards, dinosaur remains and biblical plague events. Merging style with science, the designer has an open mind to his future, creating clothes that commemorate life events and tell hidden stories as they are lived.

Theo Ike: Open World Sewing
Theo Ike: Open World Sewing

Polly Chen: The Lover’s Eye.

Inspired by radical change in the 1920s and the forbidden love of a woman for another, Polly Chen creates a striking, expressive collection. Silhouettes conceal the body, to reflect the women hiding their feelings from a hostile world. Elsewhere, unique hand-painted, printed and hand-cut fabrics are fashioned into extravagant and dramatic looks. Eclectic and sometimes surreal references include Lover’s Eye emblem, the curves of the NY Chrysler Building, and the intriguing, beautiful work of contemporary painter Fatima Ronquillo.