From mythical digital fantasies to monstrous inflatables, these MA designers are rewriting the rules of fashion for future, post-human, utopias
Fashion students at the Royal College of Art are working lightyears into the future. Where most fashion schools begin and end with womenswear, menswear, textiles – IRL fashion, anyway – students at the RCA can also enroll themselves into humanwear, no-wear, and digital mysticism courses. Disciplines which not only transcend gender, but physical bodies altogether. As a result, many students are designing for post-human, social utopias, in which the very tenets of time and space have collapsed in on each other – producing collections, which, although wildly creative and transporting, do just hurt your brain a little to think about.
The same originality, and resilience, that arose from the final collections of Central Saint Martins’ and Westminster’s graduating cohorts, are just as palpable over at the Royal College, too. And it would be remiss not to mention that these “collections” – many don’t include clothes, per se – were put together during that same year of lockdown rigmarole and intense loneliness. Perhaps, though, this actually ended up being a bulwark to innovation. From Bea Bruecker and Aurélie Fontan, who have reimagined the fashion system with algae and mycelium leather, to Sam Chester’s exploration of their trans+ identity through cyber-pagan video games, and Zongbo Jian’s berserk digital worldbuilding, these projects are a testament to colouring far outside of the lines.
Among all the crazy scribbling, however, there was the occasional red-thread – Jiangyue He, Yunpei Li, Jungna Nana Park, and Daisy Suhwoo Park, all used their work to hack away at society’s paradigm of the ideal woman, distorting and exaggerating the female figure through trompe l’oeil slips, blow-up attachments, and prosthetic bellies; following in the footsteps of RCA alumnus and bodycrafter Sinead O’Dwyer. Below, we shine a spotlight on five of these graduating designers, though, really, all deserve their dues.