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Not Your Regular Student Night – Fashion Graduate Collections for AIU



You don’t meet too many young designers like Hazim Bangwar. He’s just about to send his graduate collection down the runway, to a room full of fellow students, media, sponsors and oh-so-proud parents. Not to mention, he has also just signed a contract in LA to become a superstar singer, but tonight, even he has to agree; the focus is on him and his five fellow American InterContinental University graduates, as they debut their final collections. The room itself is a Grade I listed building, a church; seats line a runway stretching across where an alter once lay.


Being ushered backstage, into a room full of excitement, chatter and rails of month’s worth of labour, I gain a few minutes to speak with the students about their collections. “People always expect designers to be influenced by other designers, but that never happened to me. I was just reading a book. I love story telling,” Bangwar begins. His collection is a futuristic take on an Icelandic volcano, also known as Eyjafjallajokull, meshed with one of his favourite books, King Arthur.


The collection coils around the body in swoops of white leather and knitted wool, hanging loosely away from the skin, while silver netting forms science fiction like leggings, sleeves and body suits to layer underneath. The contours of the garments are sprayed with silver paint, evoking the rust that would form on a Knight’s armour, “I don’t like simplicity. I’m dramatic as a person. I wanted it like, BAM, in your face!”

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Hazim Bangwar

From Iceland to Mexico, Zaira Xitalitl based her collection on the Mexican-American movement, and the subculture it spawned known as Pachuco’s. Known for their flamboyant nature, but most recognisable for the oversized tailoring they favour, the Zoot Suit. Zaira wanted to encapsulate her heritage in a comical and light-hearted manner, she tells me, “The suits had a humour to them, my collection is not very serious.  In my culture you have to have that fun side to you”.

The collection features immaculately tailored, oversized men’s suits, made from synthetic materials usually reserved for upholstery. The suits come in a contrast of beige and grey, inspired by the dessert, amongst eye-popping reds, the colour she believes is best representative of Mexico.

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Zaira Xitalitl

Moving on from masculine shapes to maximum femininity, Flaminia Mechoulam sent out a series of flowing layers, sheer whites with tiny splats of acrylic paint printed at the hems. Vest upon vest, voluminous skirts and light as air trousers, represent the movement that garments take while underwater, “I wanted to represent the movements of swimming into deep water, where all you see is a flow of the material”, she describes.


Originally inspired by modern and classical ballet, Mechoulam soon meshed her curiosity of underwater photography to create an awe-inspiring collection of cottons and georgette.

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Flaminia Mechoulam


Another designer to channel their homeland was Michelle Kasujja, born in Sweden to Ugandan parents; her collection fuses the two. Loose dresses and long culottes, in raging reds, bright turquoise, navy, and accessorised with statement necklaces, helped to blend African and traditional Scandinavian costume silhouettes. Kasujja reveals, “Ugandan traditional clothing is all about draping and loose shapes and the Scandinavian’s are all about simplicity. It’s about expressing diversity and being individual as well, within your style.”

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Michelle Kasujja

Mixing traditional methods and fabrics with up to speed shapes, Taylor Scopes-Upton’s collection is based on his belief that men in the modern age can become lost in the present, forgetting things that have come before, he notes, “Heritage is not just about the past, it’s also about the future”. The collection featured large tailored knits, colour blocking and oversized shapes.


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Taylor Scopes-Upton


The finale of the show comes in the form of a dramatic Tibetan twist. Evoking past and present Eastern traditions and myth, Mongolian-born Sarashka Bekhbat’s collection features hand stitched Mongolian wool on chiffon, blood red dyed bolero’s made from calf skin, and floor length gowns in ruby and yellow, with dramatic accents of black. Sharp shapes and pulled, voluminous draping with Thai silks feature, Bekhbat tells me, “I really like that Thai crispy silk, it’s hard and voluminous and works with raw materials, like calf skin and wool, really well.”


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Sarashka Bekhbat


Fashion marketing students have also been invited to showcase their ideas around the room, with Tiril Futsaeter being awarded an internship with sponsor L. K. Bennett for her concept of Scandinavian Fashion Week. While Flaminia Mechoulam’s collection of ‘a blurred femininity’ takes home the fashion design cash prize sponsored by Vilene Freudenberg. Gill Stark, Head of the School of Fashion and Design, AIU London, said “We are very proud to have showcased their work and congratulate them all on their achievements. We are very much looking forward to watching their careers unfold as they become the fashion designers and marketers of the future.”


A promising night from six of the world’s next young designers, each fusing together their philosophies and techniques to create something they should all be proud of. What do they have planned next? Zaira Xitalitl tells me, “After this, I’m going to sleep for a while. Its taken nine months, I’ve basically just given birth here.” And with that said, here’s to next year!


Words by Ashleigh Kane



A little more about AUI:

Specializing in Fashion for over 30 years, AIU London’s exciting degrees in Fashion Marketing and Design, Fashion Marketing and Fashion Retailing have helped students to develop as innovators.  Experienced fashion lecturers, many of whom are also industry professionals, deliver academic programmes – including summer courses in Paris – combined with live projects, fashion shows and fashion shoots. Fashion industry internships and their links with industry help to ensure a stimulating industry-focused London fashion education.


AIU London fashion students have gone on to accomplish many achievements including winning Sky 1’s Project Runway and successfully carving careers at Matthew Williamson London; Burberry, LondonPUMA; and Ralph Lauren.


For more information about AIU London or the event, please visit www.aiulondon.ac.uk


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