As London Fashion Week drew to a close, twenty young designers made a memorable debut at the FAD Fashion Futures Final Monday evening.
Through FAD’s unique Fashion Futures programme, these passionate, innovative, and conscious young creatives got the opportunity to create and display their own garment on the catwalk. Inspired by personal muses, and the influence of global cultures on the history of British design, they are an inspiration for the future of fashion.
As the evening began, an air of excitement and joy filled the hall. These young adults were nervous, excited and proud that they were going to display the creations they worked so hard on.
“I’m very nervous, but excited as well. I’m definitively proud of myself. I didn’t think I’d ever be doing this.” (Ruth Perry, Finalist)
The jury panel was equally eager to see the finalist’s creations. “I saw the designs as they were being made and witnessed the journey as to how they got there, and we can’t begin to imagine the amount of work and passion they put into it. It’s going to be fantastic.” (Mahji Quadir, Natwest, Juror)
And fantastic it was.
There was so much excitement, love, and pride in the catwalk room that it was bouncing off the walls, and it was impossible not get animated with the rest of the crowd. Ebullient presenter Annaliese Dayes set the tone with an enthusiastic introduction.
As the lights dimmed, and the first model walked out, the room fell silent and became captivated by the art of these twenty young designers.
Every garment was unique, creative, and completely immersive. We saw a wide array of colour, textiles and fabrication, from futuristic PVC to leather appliqué and spraypainted neoprene. Silhouettes ranged from an oversized unisex coat with detachable sleeves to a structured dress echoing a pagoda’s tiers and a sporty cropped jacket and trouser. Emmanuella described the concept behind her bright, boxy oversized jacket and print dress: “My garment explores the unapologetic attitude Africans should have towards oppressive powers – like Ghanaian female warrior, Yaa Assantewaa”
The diverse models wore the young creatives’ designs with confidence and sass, accentuating FAD’s message of inclusion and diversity. The beautiful Madeline Stuart, who has Down syndrome, modelled Caoimhe Lempriere’s pretty yet powerful studded dress, while supermodel and campaigner Eunice Olumide closed the show in Lily Zou’s iridescent, sculptural, dragon-inspired piece.
Diversity and inclusivity was also something the young designers were passionate about: “Fashion needs to be more diverse, and it needs to be more open to outrageous ideas. Fashion needs to make people more open.” (Faika Chowdhury, Finalist)
“I’m really passionate about segregation between gender. The idea that male is this silhouette, and female is this silhouette, and when you are shopping you go on one or the other. You can’t just shop one style of clothes. It’s why I wanted to create something for everyone” (Rosie Higgins, Finalist)
This passion was noted by their fashion mentors: “Fashion is changing, the world is changing and becoming more diverse; the young generation has a lot to say.” (Vanessa Spence, Design director at Asos)
“I think it’s incredible that young people are being heard, and that they are from different ethnicities, different religious backgrounds, cultural backgrounds.” (Jada Sezer, Model, Influencer and Mental Health Advocate, Juror)
After a joyful finale, which saw the 20 young designers take to the stage, the winners were announced by representatives of the jury panel, including Jane Shepherdson CBE, Joel Boyd (designer, stylist and Fashion Futures graduate, Vanessa Spence (Design Director, Asos) and Rachel Blackamore of Natwest. Caoimhe Lempriere was awarded for Research and Development, while Blythe Brunt took the Award for Technical Innovation. Overall Joint Winners were Emmanuella Yiadom-Boakye and Monica Hoilett.
“There has been so many ups and downs through the project that I am just glad I got here. I am overwhelmed am so grateful for having had this opportunity. FAD Fashion Futures has taught me that you can be as creative as you want and find a way to bring that wild idea to life, no matter how impossible it may seem.” (Monica Hoilett, winner)
“I feel overwhelmed and excited, I didn’t expect it all! Even when I was chosen as a finalist of the FAD Fashion Futures I was amazed.” (Emmanuella Yiadom-Boakye, winner)
Alongside Asos and George, Fashion Futures was sponsored by Natwest, and Rachel Blackamore, Regional Managing Director, stated that: “FAD is making such a difference to people who wouldn’t always or normally get the opportunity get access to the fashion world. To see so many different people of colour and abilities is fantastic, and it stood out for me. It’s part of the reason we support FAD.”
Congratulations to all brilliant young designers. Your work is inspiring, and the show was fantastic, and the world can’t wait to see more of you.
Watch the full show here
Words: Estelle Lesault
Photos: Tony Wellington