Graduate Review: Bath Spa University
Up until two years ago the fashion design course at Bath Spa University was gradually building on its growing reputation and then Chloe Jones flicked on the spotlight with her double-award win at Graduate Fashion Week 2012. This year, once again, the university struck gold with Grace Weller wowing the hardened industry judges with her exquisite, beautifully crafted pieces. Editor JoJo Iles attended the Bath Spa Fashion Show for a closer look at Grace’s award winning designs along with collections from 22 of her graduate colleagues.
Fashion design is a notoriously tough and highly competitive sector and the students at Bath Spa know and understand that dedication and hard work combined with talent and commercial savvy is required from the outset. It is easy to forget while you are sat in the middle of the creative flurry of a final-year fashion show that these students have also had to commit financially to the costs of putting on the catwalk event. With long-established show producer John Walford on board the students were in safe hands, displaying their collections of up to six outfits against the elegant backdrop of the Assembly Rooms in the centre of historic Bath.
After a taster from the 1st and 2nd years Charles McLelland kicked-off the proceedings with a series of boxy, oversize shapes in clean, simple lines in a cream and black palette. A scribbled marker-pen print featured throughout forming a graphic heart or stripe, a detail that was carried through to his bright red shopping bags. The overall feel was a combination of simple, envelopment with a nod to Japanese clean-lined simplicity.
Ainslie Mackie was next with a textural feast that combined chunky, heavy knits worn with shimmering metallics and combined with lace. Models stomped up the catwalk in wellie-boots while colour dipped in to pebble greys, faded rust and deep-water blues, it was shabby-chic but in a good way, inspired by the shoreline and fishing paraphernalia.
Other collections that caught the eye included Lauren Mather’s off-white tonal collection of boxy shift shapes and simple, cropped jackets that featured repeated circular patterns inspired by watery pool reflections. The circle also inspired Katherine Green, although she represented the round within her cuts, her circular pockets and line prints.
In contrast to all the clean-lined structure Thomas Brookes presented slouchy looks that draped, layered and hung loosely on the body. Easy to wear it was grunge-chic featuring fine art prints, raw hems and reminiscent nod to LFW designer Jean-Pierre Braganza.
The show ended with Grace Weller’s award-winning collection. Grace notched up the Womenswear Award and the Gold Award at this year’s Graduate Fashion Week, an impressive feat against some staunch competition from the country’s top Universities. Her elegant handcrafted designs won the judges over and it was clear to see why, the intricate and delicate embroidery on lace and sheer layers felt romantic and couture-like.
Reflecting on her win and experience at Bath Spa, Grace said: “I am still in shock at winning the awards at Graduate Fashion Week and with all the attention I am getting. My course at Bath really helped me to channel and develop my ideas and to think more professionally about my work. In the final year we are encouraged to see ourselves as designers developing our first collection and not as students and this has been a great help.”
Course Leader of Fashion at Bath Spa University, Louise Pickles added: “We are ambitious for the course and for all of our students. We have a reputation for challenging our students both with their ideas and the quality of work. The key thing is that all of our students develop a personal identity within their work, that they are true to themselves, and that they work to a professionally high standard in all areas so they are able to compete nationally and internationally after graduating.”
Grace will now create a limited edition line in collaboration with Graduate Fashion Week sponsor George, and from the high standard of work on show at this year’s graduate presentation more will be joining her – taking up positions in fashion studios across the country and beyond.