From big blooming granny pants to Wetherspoons carpets, this year’s cohort of BA designers from the University of Westminster have shown that creativity can illuminate even in the darkest of times
In a video recorded by Westminster students in the thick of lockdown, Kristin Sigus aptly describes the turmoil of graduating in a pandemic as “like working during war time”. The last upheaval, then, came over the weekend, when all 31 students debuted one piece from their final collections as part of London Fashion Week. For Sigus, this erupted into a pagoda-shouldered mound of deadstock fabric, which she had fused together to form a gargantuan, multi-layered coat. The rigmarole of the past year may well have felt like a battle but this year’s BA cohort from the University of Westminster have surely come out victorious.
From Molly Sellars’ upcycled, engineered hybrids (think puffer jackets which unpack into hammocks and trousers that rebutton as quilts) to William Craven’s campy clutch bag, which parodies a giant bottle of poppers, each collection is underpinned by an entirely unique set of motivations. It would seem that most designers this year, though, have forged their offerings from waste material – for both economical and ethical reasons – while using their creations to reflect explicitly on themes of identity, be that race, gender, or sexuality. Others, however, were propelled by the more abstract, emotional experiences of the last year, taking to fashion as a way to work through long-lingering feelings of isolation, like Esme Marsh.
Remarkably, the vast majority of these collections have been produced without access to college facilities, with all tutorials relegated to Zoom. “The students could have used this as an excuse to complain, to produce less, to not try so hard, not to experiment, instead they rose up, they adapted, they pushed their creativity to even greater achievement. They used their solitude to dig deep and find out what they were capable of,” says Rosie Wallin, who directs Westminster’s fashion course. Below, we take a look at just a few of the talented designers that are graduating this year.