Meet The Ravensbourne Class of 2020

Whilst every university student sets out to achieve good grades, for those who are enrolled on any creative course, it’s the final-year degree show that counts. Three, four, even seven years of solid graft leads up to that one moment. It’s the chance for you get offered your first freelance commission, an interview for your first post-grad job, to meet a certain industry figurehead who will plot the first stepping stone in the path to your dream career. As the global health pandemic has forced universities across the country to axe physical degree shows, art school students are about to dauntingly enter a practically jobless job market alone.

Although Ravensbourne University London was unable to provide a physical degree showcase for its students, the South London institution has come up with the next best thing. Teaming up with live-streaming platform Twitch, Ravensbourne has created Rave Digital, a downloadable game created by its final year fashion and gaming students. Premiering today at 5pm BST, ten fashion design students have digitalised their final collections into virtual avatars – both clothed and textured in each students’ designs. Having less than six weeks to work on the project, the students were able to create a digitally rendered universe through innovative software programme Marvelous Designer, in which users can photograph each look from a variety of different angles, using different lighting and setting features.

“Our students take on a strong digital sensibility at Ravensbourne from the get-go and our tech team are forward-thinking and able to adapt and constantly come up with new innovative ways of working,” says Lee Lapthrone, programme director for fashion. “The result has been a truly collaborative project between students from separate courses, a first. Covid has enabled us to come together against the odds and continue to showcase our students’ work in the very best light under their own unique creative control.”  In the lead up to the big reveal, we spoke to five of the students about what it was like preparing their final collections under circumstances none of them could’ve imagined when they first began their studies.

Judy Tang

“My collection was inspired by Fumio Sasaki, a Japanese writer who lives with a few pieces of clothing and not much else, this graduation collection examines minimalism through an exploration of routine, connectivity and efficiency. Cycling through the same pieces in our wardrobe day after day, week after week, these clothes become enmeshed with ourselves, inextricably linked to one another just as our daily activities and routines seamlessly flow from one to the next.”

“Creating whilst in lockdown has been challenging but rewarding. Faced with the prospect of having to find alternate methods of exposure given the cancellation of the graduate show, I’ve been forced to become more proactive in building my brand and trying to get my work out there. Furthermore, I’ve had to learn how to use Marvelous Designer to create my garments virtually, which has been a difficult but ultimately rewarding experience — one that has opened my eyes to the future of the fashion industry. Outside of the digital realm, the physical limitations of lockdown have allowed my creative juices to flow. Now a mini studio, my living room has become dotted with sheets of A4 paper, scattered with stray pencils and pens, and accentuated with the sporadic coffee stain. It’s become a manifestation of my creative process, which, in turn, has allowed me to make great progress on building my portfolio.”

Alexander Knight 

“My final collection is an exploration of Catholic iconography and vestments through the lens of 1970s pop art, focusing particularly on the work of Andy Warhol and Corita Kent (AKA The Pop Art Nun). I wanted it to be full of playful contrasts, between the bright block colours of pop art prints, the lace and volume of a communion gown, the graphic lines of stained glass windows, the strict seriousness of religious vestments and the easy glamour of seventies fashion. The end result is this heightened, psychedelic procession of idols and icons: Marilyns and Madonnas. This dual meaning of words like ‘icon’ and ‘idol’ which relate to both spiritual and celebrity worship, much like Warhol’s work did, adds a tense undercurrent to the collection, grounding the more frivolous elements.”

“I would’ve presented all six looks in the Ravensbourne Graduate Fashion Show, and then probably done a bonkers shoot with bowl cuts, lace eyelashes, printed backgrounds and candles or something. I probably would’ve worn one of the looks to the supermarket or the bank as well. I love overdressing and nothing says overdressed quite like a devoré velvet cape in the frozen food aisle. I’m planning and hoping that the shoot and the overdressing can still happen somewhere down the road. Transferring the collection digitally has been really good fun. It’s like playing video games whilst building your portfolio. I found that it really catered to my strengths in learning new software and pattern cutting and so I took to it quite quickly. I was really impressed at just how much was possible within the software. I ended up creating the fouth look in my final collection and a look from my ‘selling collection’ which was being designed at the same time as this digital project took place. For the final collection look, I measured out all my patterns and recreated them within the software, whereas the selling collection look was created from scratch.”

Del-Juan Brown

“I have a deep admiration for fearless individuals, especially young people that take risks. My final collection Take Flight encapsulates the embrace of Gen Z’s non-conformity; embracing that eruption within the brave few is more necessary now than ever. Surprisingly, I did not feel the pandemic really affected my work. If anything, it helped me to be more conscious by being away from distractions and more focused on nonstop problem-solving. Although it gets foggy being in your own space, it helped reflect more. I found myself questioning my intentions regarding my long-term trajectory and have also started producing some prototypes that I intend on shooting and presenting in the next few months.

“This whole experience had me experimenting and reflecting more than ever, learning new software took me out of my comfort zone of working in 2D. Constructing in a digital format trained me to be more considerate with the specification of how a garment pieces together. Although I personally would not pursue digital simulation of garment presentations, I would incorporate it into my design development.”

Hannah Prince

“Before the lockdown, we as a year were working hard towards manufacturing our collections to present on a runway. The excitement and nervousness was felt across the whole year as we have worked so hard on the vision and we were entering the final stage, realisation.  Final fabrics, prints and silhouettes were being solidified, we began working on final patterns ready for manufacture, so as you can imagine we were all ready to go! It’s crazy to think that for three years, you know in your final year you’ll be creating six looks, you work towards this the whole time you’re in university. With the Marvelous Designer software, I now have a chance to fully realise this collection, in a new fashion-forward format.”

“It’s a given that as fashion students, we know how to navigate Adobe software like Illustrator and Photoshop, but adding Marvellous Designer to the list of software diversifies my skill set. Being introduced to this way of working has really opened up my thoughts on where I want to be in the fashion industry, it has provided me with a new way of thinking that could progress into finding a gap in the industry that hasn’t been filled yet. It’s a very exciting time to experience a shift in all industries first hand.”

Rhea Micallef-Gavin

“My aim was to produce a six-outfit collection that is to bridge the gap between traditionalist methods such as painting, mono-printing, linocut, screenprinting and foiling with fashion’s digital print. Bringing new depth and more personal feel to a graduate collection. These methods encourage ‘’handmade’’ techniques which will also fight against fast fashion as they require more time and patience. Initially, it was challenging to learn a whole new software in such a short space of time, but our tutors were more than available to chime in and help at any given point. This is definitely a process of design which I will continue to develop and use to create future aesthetic experiments. I believe the software has shown me a new design freedom which allows for accurate creation, an idea becomes more tangible, as it easier to realise the fabrics, the dimensions, more room for error and change of heart without the negative environmental impact.”

“I feel like we’re in the middle of a “call out” period, where everybody who got away with poor standards of work, equality, and environmental impact are being held accountable for the mistakes those companies are making. The saving of fabric manipulation and experimentation – as the program lets you swap in and out of fabrics at the click of a button – completely eradicates fabric waste and environmental impact. This creates the ability to minimise the toiling process as you can “summon” a garment together like as if it was your first day of wizard training, and if the pattern doesn’t work, you can fix it! This kind of program allows complete prediction of a collection, and therefore it allows us to minimise those mistakes. Hopefully, this can be used to begin to rebuild the fashion industry’s reputation.”

Top image by Rhea Micallef-Gavin. Watch Ravensbourne’s ‘Rave Digital’ showcase today at 5pm BST here.

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