With the audience’s funky flares and baggy tees and free Red Stripes readily being handed around, Camberwell College of Arts’ fashion show had an undeniably cool atmosphere before it even commenced. The show, defined as ‘Graphics meets fashion’, effortlessly described the beautiful clash of fashion and individualistic visual design that ensued. A centred screen at the forefront of our seats and catwalk displayed the title of the event, Cmd + Stitch, an immediate invitation into the concept; the + symbol and word ‘stitch’ suggest a knitting together of two forms. All parts of this fashion performance displayed a conflict of concepts, from the technology together, with often simple design processes, all the way to the clashing cultures, which seemed to have inspired the collection.
The teaser videos posted on Facebook beforehand anticipated the key meeting of technology and hand-made production that the show revelled in. In one of the videos, we see a makeshift fashion show in a village, with kids messing about with experimental cloths and materials. The other anticipatory video was a high-profiled fashion show, featuring models eccentrically styled and running down the catwalk; with luminous, dynamic lights and a booming crowd, this show suggested distinct professionalism. These conflicting versions of a fashion show came to my mind after attending Cmd + Stitch, as I considered how the UAL students had brilliantly merged both concepts. On the one hand, they had explored a unique primitiveness of materials and production, seen, for example, through the flowing, beautifully imperfect tassels on one red poncho. On the other, they presented professionalism in production and technology through the mixed graphic design of the set.
The room featured flashing projector images that emerged throughout the show, as well as cut-out letters that surrounded the room, providing a slick and minimalist look. The Camberwell College of Arts team that put the show together managed to display how fashion is not better in one form over another. Instead, the real beauty of showcasing fashion comes through a fusion of the old with the new, the high tech with the primitive, and the smooth with the imperfect.
The other merge, or rather "clash", that did not go unnoticed, was the diverse cultural influence of the clothes. A kind of melting pot of culture could be felt through these clothes – appropriate given the international privilege that London, and specifically the universities of London, hold. Japanese inspiration could be seen through the origami-esque shapes on the clothes, while white, orange and red headdresses were reminiscent of highly embellished Chinese dragons – a symbol of good luck during Chinese New Year. A nod to the tropics was also there, through plain, yet stylish white T-shirts with almost luminous pink and yellow linear designs on them. The brightness and simplicity of this design reminded me of some of Matisse’s work, an artist inspired by the French seaside town of Collioure, and whose oeuvre exudes a comparably tropical aesthetic.
Of course, it is hard to forget the inspiration from British, and specifically London’s, fashion. Cool cargo trousers and fun beanies seen throughout the streets of South London (often worn by the art students themselves), were re-thought within the show in a more graphic and experimental way. And so, we were able to experience an un-straightforward clash of worldly design, with the clothes’ shape taking form from Asia, the presence of the colours of the south of France and the tropics, and the overall style and "edginess" of the designs from the original London Town itself.
Of course, it seems this is exactly what the show was trying to achieve – an explosive clash of different concepts, given the sub-title, Graphics meets Fashion. The students created a space for overlapping creativity and art, with their individualistic, whacky clothes becoming, in their own words, ‘a wearable piece of graphic design’. The designs, therefore, were an exciting showcase of the possibilities that can be reached when we combine varying forms of art.
Edited by Evangeline Stanford, Digital Editor