Last year marked the debut show on the BFC London Fashion Week schedule for the first undergraduate fashion design course in the world. This year, fifteen new designers from Westminster’s BA course hit the runway. These young, talented designers have certainly earned their place in the show, having been selected by industry professionals, including Lulu Kennedy MBE, the founder of Fashion East, Olya Kuryschuk, editor of 1 Granary magazine and, high-flying London designer, Charles Jeffrey.
The show allowed no trend of 2019 to slide, presenting fun and bold mismatched snakeskin and cow prints, kudos to Melissa Eakin, through to the sexy, PVC transparent trench-coats of Louisa Yung. Whilst the inspirations of each designer are rooted in personal places from family to identity to cultural tastes in music and art, the designs seemed to unite under an expression of sexuality and taking pride in our human body.
The epitome of provocative was certainly encapsulated in the black corset-esque suit in Eduardo Vegas’ menswear collection. It featured cut-out designs on the waist and rear of the suit, trimmed with metal eyelets, allowing for a tightly laced string to pull the material close to the model’s body. The snug shaping was furthered by the well-fitting, double-breasted design which offered an air of classic tailoring, built on by softly angled shoulder pads to outline the masculine form. Exposing the model’s bare rear was certainly a brave move from Vegas, however, it is safe to say the daring statement was well received; the rows shared a breath of amazement when the model turned back down the runway to reveal the cheeky and erotic design. In daring to step outside classic tropes of what it is to be masculine, Vegas captured the pristine lines of the male form, presenting the body as something to be revered.
The cheeky cut-out displays of the human body were by no means limited to the designs of Eduardo Vegas, however. Revealing a different take on the erotic, Lidiia Pyschna sent one model down the runway in a stunning, fitted co-ord suit in the richest of reds. On the top half, pocket-like cut-outs lay over the model’s breasts which suggestively bounced as she walked the show, while the lower saw visible lingerie, in a suspender-like design, protrude down a bold trouser leg. The combined result managed to capture a racy, female sexuality, without over-exposing the model, heightening her aura of power and dignity. The limited amount of bare skin revealed, meant the design left plenty to the imagination, maximising the sense of intimacy and an element of sexual tension. It presented sexuality as personal and proved the ways in which female sexuality can, and should be, reimagined. An impressively simple piece that has a lot to say.
Very much in line with the PVC transparent trend came Louisa Yung’s ominous plastic pieces, most likened to trench-coats or ponchos with the exception of a dainty but structured, oriental erotica dress. The collection featured the visibility of red lace lingerie and fetish-inspired latex gloves, as well as graphic illustrations inspired by the work of Toshio Saeki, specifically of the female body. Much like Pyschna, Yung made sure this feminine sexuality represented a strong, feminist power. On this, she states the designs 'had to be [from] the position of a dominant woman opposed to the normal submissive woman in erotic art'. The see-through pieces represent pride in regard to the female body and Yung puts power firmly into the hands of women, a key sentiment – there is no shame attached to expressing and displaying the sheer beauty of a woman’s body. The combination of this sexualised exposure of the body, merging with the fine-lined art drawings are what propel these designs into social, political statements that they are.
Sad you missed out? Fear not, these designers are hot on the foreseeable fashion scene, going on to showcase their A/W19 collections again, along with their S/S20 pre-collections in a Paris showroom this May. There, they will be joined by industry guests including Givenchy, Burberry and Louis Vuitton who are also invited to view the student’s portfolios. Clearly, London Fashion Week is only the beginning for these Westminster graduates!
Edited by Evangeline Stanford, Digital Editor