Central Saint Martins has a legendary reputation as the star-making fashion college. Hannah Tindle speaks to four fresh graduates tipped as names you’ll soon know Central Saint Martins. Those three words have conjured some of the greatest names the fashion world has known. Its teaching methods and strong encouragement of ‘boundary pushing’ have led to an almost sacred reputation among art and design schools, w ith the fashion programmes tipped as some of the toughest and most notorious.
Legend perhaps truly began when John Galliano graduated from the school with his 1984 Les Incroyables BA collection. From its days on Charing Cross Road (the old building is now a rather sanitised Foyles bookshop, but oh what those walls must have seen) up until it moved to its current home in Granary Square in 2011, each year the fashion crowd flocks to see the end-of-course presentations and nose at what the next generation of design talent has been dreaming up in its studios.
The BA class of 2022, which presented its final work in May, was a standout among recent years. The 115 students — who spent two of the course’s years under lockdown — pulled together a show that felt like Central Saint Martins at its very best. Even though Madonna and FKA twigs sat on the frow to much buzz, the hype around the clothes themselves was just as palpable. Selecting the four designers below for this feature was a difficult task indeed, as there were so many collections to rave about.
What is it they say? Something about adversity lending itself to creativity. Most of the graduating class of 2022, born around the cusp of the millennium, have grown up with a continual onslaught of dystopian world events. As such, the attitude of ‘f*** it’ is unmistakeable. That stance is London at heart — it’s how we got McQueen, Westwood and more; designers who did things on their own terms and disrupted the status quo. We could all do with a lot more of that right now.
Christie Lau’s collection at the 2022 graduate show caused quite a stir when a triptych of giant cubes printed with QR codes made their way down the runway. ‘I got really into using [3D CG software tool] Blender during lockdown,’ the Hong Kong-born designer explains. ‘I could feel that people were beginning to take the idea of digital fashion seriously.’ Lau decided to create a series of fully augmented clothes for their final collection (including a floating trench coat and ‘anti-gravity’ hoods) that would only appear when a phone was held up to the QR code cubes models were wearing. Now working on a special project with Meta, Lau also puts on exhibitions with a digital art collective in east London. ‘Digital fashion is the future,’ says Lau. ‘It allows us the freedom to craft our own identities outside of the physical body. I think that’s such an exciting place to be.’
Mata Durikovic’s collection was eccentric and joyful in the best possible way. Having developed materials she calls ‘bioplastic’ and ‘bioleather’ (made from substances such as starch, fruit and jelly), a lot of the clothes Durikovic, above left, makes are not only biodegradable but also edible. Her label, MADbyMAD, is what she calls ‘bioluxury’: ‘I want people to rethink traditional ideas of sustainable fashion,’ she says. Hailing from Slovakia, Durikovic’s work is heavily influenced by her close relationship with her grandmother. ‘She would remake old clothes into new garments for me to become different characters.’ The designer has already been endorsed by the likes of LVMH, Grayson Perry and Swarovski, and her singular approach is certain to get her far.
‘It was a release of so many ideas,’ explains Yaz Whitlock of her graduate collection, which was an other-worldly display including a bubonic jacket and pair of trousers fully cast in silicone. ‘It took months and months to make. I like to create a hybrid of many forms, and my collection was very much like that.’ Whitlock combined her rubbery, alien-like pieces with a textured knitted dress that swept the runway and a matching bodysuit modelled by her friend. ‘My friend has one arm and I created a prosthetic levitating hand for her to wear, too,’ she says. Whitlock is no stranger to surrealist SFX, having already made a foetal baby goat for FKA twigs’ Caprisongs mixtape. The TikTok video of her collection has been viewed almost a million times, setting her on a course for more viral success.
Born and raised in Croydon, Stanley Bryan’s final collection fused his Jamaican heritage with futurist design, taking inspiration from the architecture of Vincent Callebaut and Dame Zaha Hadid. Further research included images of Seventies reggae bands Steel Pulse and Aswad, plus his own family photos where he referenced garments worn by his grandparents. ‘I mixed a lot of textiles together to create shapes inspired by these images,’ he explains. ‘I also utilised 3D printing, to print shapes of the African continent which then formed a string vest. I like the idea of using traditional techniques with newer technologies.’ Bryan, second left, has plans to stay in London and COURTESY STANLEY BRYAN work on his own label, with the goal of showing over London Fashion Week in the future. We guess it won’t be long.