Graduate Fashion Week, Dubai, provided an exciting window on the industry’s promising future

A key industry event, Graduate Fashion Week, Fashion Forward Dubai, brought together some of the brightest emerging talent in the business, while providing them with a platform to showcase their cutting-edge creativity and individuality. Drawing inspiration from literature, cultural fusion, sustainability and new ways of creating, young, up-and-coming designers from around the globe participating in the Fashion Futures event pushed the boundaries of dressing, providing a fascinating and thought-provoking glimpse into some of the possible designs of years to come.

Diana Aparo
Accademia Costume & Moda, Italy
Graduate Fashion Week 2017

Inspired by Dino Buzzati’s novel ‘Un Amore’, Diana Aparo’s collection speaks of the tension found between the often polarised themes of brutality in the everyday and feminism. First showcased at Alta Roma, her collection features an array of custom fabrics, developed in conjunction with silk manufacturers in Como, Italy. Applying flocking and heat-bonding techniques to create a contrasting aesthetic of rigidity and softness, Aparo notes that “things at the beginning of the sketch book actually correspond to the end, but in a different way, because we made this velvet touch, and the masculine fabrics were developed, but you can recognize them”.

Abisola Akanni
De Montfort University Leicester, UK,
Graduate Fashion Week 2017

A dynamic presentation of cultural fusion, Abisola Akanni’s collection combines a variation on vibrant African Agbada prints with clean, preppy cuts inspired by school uniforms, a re-education in back-to-school wear. Conscious of the emulation of Western dress practices in Africa as a sign of social and economic progression, Akanni’s careful application of culturally inspired prints repositions the imported cuts, injecting them with tradition, while communicating social values. Incorporated both functionally and as the base of her colour palette, paperclips are found throughout her illustrations and garments, adding an element of play to the youthful collection.

Halina North
Edinburgh College of Art, UK,
Graduate Fashion Week 2017

With sustainability serving as a component rather than a concept, Halina North explores the idea of the ‘mundane’, and how often, personal identity manifests itself through collections of the banal, which as a whole, produce something sublime. Drawing from the ordinary, as captured by photographers Martin Parr and Jeff Wall, North incorporates washable paper and heat-fused plastic on cotton, “making it into something new and exciting with some historical edge”. Through a juxtaposition of historical and contemporary silhouettes, North achieves a careful balance throughout the visual development, from collaged sketch to final garments.

Po-Chieh Chiu
Shih Chien University, Taiwan
Graduate Fashion Week 2017

“My thing is that I am a traveller wearing my background.” This idea is evidently worked throughout Po-Chieh Chiu’s collection, with a variety of bricks from his childhood neighbourhood providing shape, colour and surface inspiration. Through a combination of knitting, weaving and stitching techniques, Chiu employs texture, layering and a predominantly monochromatic palette with confidence, while playing with volume and proportion. Connecting with the streets Chiu photographed while developing the collection, strong architectural elements run throughout, with sleeves, lapels and hemlines becoming visual focal points.

Ruth Williams
Edinburgh College of Art, UK
Graduate Fashion Week 2017

Drawing inspiration from the historic knit-wear industry of her native Scotland, Ruth Williams’ collection intelligently combines traditional and contemporary technologies by isolating individual rows of knit and laser-cutting the resulting pattern. Playing with size, material and arrangement, Williams recreates the craft and modernises its application, applying the links to a variety of garments and accessories to form the focal point of each look. Linked through a sports-influenced mesh, Williams works towards preserving “that traditional influence by doing something contemporary and modern with it”.

Yao Yao
Donghua University, China
Graduate Fashion Week 2017

With the intention of doing something different, Yao Yao’s collection began with wanting to “express a human face, express emotion”. Through the application of an unconventional, yet functional material, simple shapes and pastel colours command attention and intrigue, with hundreds of drinking straws that support and form abstracted human faces exhibiting a variety of expressions. Hoping her collection would “make people happy”, Yao’s abstract combination of tinsel strands and drinking straws inspires a juvenile curiosity and prompt for joyful exploration.

A version of this article appeared in print in Selections, Letters From The Past #43, pages 134-145.