I was mixing with the fashionistas yesterday. They’re not my usual crowd, but hey, what an inspirational bunch they are.
I’ve written before about the collaborative project which has been going on between the students of Kingston University and a group of expert WI craftswomen. Yesterday was the start of the grand finale; the end of term show at the university and the chance for everyone involved to see what these clever women have created. We gathered in the Fashion department amidst photographers, press, proud family members and the artists themselves and awaited the show.
It was rather exciting!
I chose a seat at the end of the back row amongst my friends and colleagues, thinking that I could stand and take a photo without impeding the view of anyone behind me. But then, a bunch of students arrived and squeezed in to stand behind us – oh oh. Thankfully, one of them accepted the offer of my camera and I gladly handed it over to her – leaving me to focus fully on the exciting things which were happening!
The music began – full volume – and the first model hit the catwalk.
Though I’ve been to fashion shows, they’ve usually been to showcase ready to wear clothes on sale somewhere and though some have used professionals to show their garments, I probably wouldn’t have described these people as “fashion models”. But yesterday afternoon, we were treated to the real deal. The professionally gorgeous, impossibly slim, remarkably confident and extraordinarily aloof models that I would only associate with Vogue or similar.
The first creations we saw were the main collections designed by the eleven fashion knitwear students who have been working on the project. These were solely the responsibility of the students themselves and each collection of six outfits had to fulfil the particular brief of the syllabus as part of their final degree project.
Though their creativity had been taken to the limit occasionally, there were many garments that we’d have given our eye teeth for – not that everything would necessarily have been totally practical for shopping in Waitrose, of course.
After each student had shown the individual garments, the collection was shown as a whole to much enthusiastic applause. I can only imagine the roller coaster of emotions these young women have experienced in the last few days and know that at least one was finishing into the wee small hours in order to be ready.
Though all the participants were women, two of the students chose to work on menswear. This particular collection had a theme of shopping (surely not inspired by WI members?) The fabrics had been printed with store logos – ASDA in the case of this jacket and an all over print of TESCO on the trousers.
Who says fashion can’t make a statement, too?
Finally, there was the eleven collaborative garments to see. Each student had worked with two WI members and utilised their technical handwork skills to develop their concept further. The results were altogether amazing. Sadly, it was only at the end of this part of the show that Kate told me the battery of my camera had died, so these last few photographs are quick snaps taken on my phone (because I just couldn’t resist taking pictures! Just as well perhaps…)
This is the resulting garment designed by the student whose inspiration came from the button man, shown in pictures here (third and fourth picture down) Featuring a collection of hand made Dorset buttons and embroidery, it was clear that this concept had been successfully followed through to conclusion.
Here is the original design sheet from an earlier meeting, which I didn’t feel able to share before. Isn’t it interesting to see the finished garment?
I realised too, the importance of styling and wonder whether the Aran knitters quite expected their garment to be modelled with such spirit?
One each garment had been shown, the students each came down the catwalk with their model and in a spontaneous demonstration of the links which have been forged between students and members, they sought out their partners and grabbed them by the hands, culminating in the most amazing, emotional finale imaginable. I am sure it’s something none of them will ever forget.
And it’s only the start, too. Next month when the WI comes together in the Albert Hall to celebrate the centenary of the organisation, there will be another chance to see the collection modelled and I, for one, can’t wait to have another look (and hopefully get some better photos!) Then, the work will be on show at the Centennial Fair in Harrogate in the Autumn and once again at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Ally Pally (and maybe beyond?)
But really, how lucky was I to be in on the whole shebang, from start to finish? And though that’s the conclusion of this particular collaboration, who knows where the next one might take us? One thing is sure, I’d love to be in on it!