Ask any fashion designer and they will likely tell you how their final graduate presentation entailed a fast-paced, high-energy runway of sorts. Garments are typically marched past peers and industry representatives, like a conveyor belt of fresh talent and innovation; it can be a lot to take in. Together with SketchSesh – London’s avant-garde life drawing group – Fashion graduates at Middlesex University have done something a little different this year.
Hosted at East London’s legendary queer cabaret bar, The Glory, last month’s graduate showcase invited a willing audience to draw its student collections. Modelled by an eclectic mix of London creatives such as DJ Princess Julia, drag performers Sharon LeGrand and Jonbers, and photographed by Roxy Lee, this was a “pub lock in meets fashion studio,” Joe Turvey, programme leader of BA Fashion Design, says.
Discussing the motivations behind such divergence from the traditional fashion show, artist and lecturer in Fashion Design, James Davison, expressed the importance of interaction: “Middlesex students’ work is traditionally known for its sculptural approaches to design that explore volume and form and much of that appreciation would be lost on the catwalk…we wanted something that would be immersive but also allow people to look at their design pieces closely so that the work can be appreciated for its detail and craftsmanship.”
Taking over the east-end pub for the evening was a mixture of both established and emerging artists, as well as crowd of proud parents. Not to mention, the garments showcased were selected by stylist Andrew Davis, Nasir Mazhar of Fantastic Toiles, and co-founder of Fashion Revolution, Orsola de Castro.
Such engagement and celebration of diversity and creative community proved to be the perfect ending to an education that has continued to embolden its students in remodelling the fashion industry. “That is what made [this] show so special. People from all different communities coming together in an iconic location, to sit and draw and take time to look at something that a young graduate has spent three years of their life building up to. Showcasing their identity through clothing needs time to be appreciated and analysed,” Turvey says.
Photography by Roxy Lee, courtesy of Middlesex University.