FANZINE, the 2023 edition, had first year BA Fashion Students from London Metropolitan University, showoff their work and styles. The catwalk spotlights each of the student’s own ideas to the brief and the specific colour they were given.
The assignment: create a show piece, a one off show stopper with the emphasis being creatively and technically avant grade, while exploring Volume, Silhouette, Construction, Finishings, and Movement.
Music merged with clapping and cheering of the audience as models shined on the catwalk. Wearing the art that their designers created from scratch, the models did justice to the art. And the designers worked hard in creating their show stopper’s. The first years may have been Cinderella’s fairy godmother, turning nothing into a beauty of art but they were reminded of what every student goes through - the stress of coursework and the relief once submitted.
“It was so stressful, like the whole process of making, but now it's done and I'm so happy. We're so excited.” - Angel Cuomo
“It's very satisfying to see it all done. And it's quite a relief because it's been a rough, long, hard 2-3 weeks.” - Molly Neil
“Really nervous and really excited. I’m still like sweating so much from nerves'' - Giovanna Pragliola
It’s easy to forget the designers are students. First year students who wowed the audience, a mix of family, friends and strangers. But for each student, this catwalk was an amazing experience to show off their ideas on what the prompt meant and showcase what fashion is to them.
For Angel Cuomo, fashion was a way to express creativity through fabric embroidery and the process of designing started with collecting images but grew to feelings. The royal green gown that greeted the runway was sleek and gorgeous.
“In my case, it's more like you know finding the vibes that I feel drawn to and then I'm gonna go for it, so that's how I did it. I wanted that kind of you know glam look and I achieved it. It's good to show to people what you're able to do because you literally turn fabric into something. It's a very nice feeling.”
The cheers and smiles were all around as each model walked forward, their steps holding purpose and gaze concentrated.
Evelyn Floyd, one of the models on the show, found the process nerve wracking but extremely fun.
“I've done photography modelling but not ever like this. It was really cool to see a dream I'd had like an 8 year old come to life.” She sat and watched the process of the garment coming alive from first measurement, to the first sketch to the prototype. To her the process, “was really interesting and I can't sew to save my life. So it's so cool to watch like all the fabric being folded and an actual piece of wearable clothing come out of it.”
Her designer was Adriana Thompson who at first struggled to get along with the colour given to her but the magic started to work when she slowly worked with the colour and began liking it. The process became easier and at the end relief and excitement greeted her.
“It was so cool. Because like seeing it actually like going down the runway when it's only like been on the hangar the whole time, it's nice to actually see it.”
Being able to finally see the end result of a week's worth of work was an incredible and mind shattering experience for the students. Lucino Carlos was wowed at her friend taking to the stage wearing her design after weeks of not visualising how the end would look like.
“It felt really nice because when I was doing the piece, I couldn't really imagine how it was gonna be on the catwalk and stuff. And then as soon as I saw her, like, wow. It looks like she really slayed like the whole look and everything.”
Dion Barnett, Lucino’s model, loved how her designer’s garment made her feel.
“I felt really empowered, especially with my Afro. I felt like once you get into the outfit, you feel a lot more confident to walk on stage and you feel like you're sort of playing a character. And I really enjoy that. I felt like it was an alter ego of myself. Like whereas on a regular day I'm just to myself. When you're on the stage, you're confident, you're free, everyone's watching you. I loved it.”
“It’s mental,” said Molly, who didn’t expect there to be many people at the show. A nice surprise to greet them at the end when both designer and model walk the stage. Lily Nugen, Molly’s model, has never done modelling before but enjoyed the experience and was happy for her friend. “I'm proud of my friend, love you Molly.”
The happiness hung in the air as garments were put away, students and models alike smiling as they walked back downstairs to the main hall welcomed by families and friends. The excitement won over any fatigue felt as the experience lingered on in the infinite memories each person had. Maisie Grace, a model, loved the entire experience and wearing her gown, yellow as a sunflower.
“It was such a beautiful piece. It was really elegant. Oh, I felt like a princess, a literal princess.”
Her designer Julia Gorecka was smiling listening to her friend talk.
“I was so proud. And I was so happy because she also enjoyed it, so that makes me feel good.”
The brown haired designer like many other students felt the pressure of the work and late nighters was pulled but relief and pride hugged her as the night ended. Many of the models are friends with the designers, and they have watched their friends stress, the highs and the lows. A common university experience to stress. Giovanna was happy that her best friend enjoyed modelling her work.
“It made me even happier because she's enjoyed it. She's seen the process and she's seen what I do at uni, so it's like she understands.”
The ideas that were breathed onto the runway ranged from neo romanticism, glam to sustainability. Giovanna was surprised at how everything turned out in the best way possible. Giovanna’s idea took recycled to a new meaning with her gorgeous blue colour scheme garment.
“My whole idea was to recycle. Everything was recycled from charity shops to my parents' wardrobe. So everything has been unpicked. Denim, jackets, jeans and then just basically the idea of the bottom part is like all jagged. So I did a neo-romantic in my research, which is all jagged and messy. Then 60s, which is the denims perspective. So it kind of went together from there.”
Sleepless nights and the fashion studio becoming a second home to many students ended in relief. Shoulders no longer tense and dark circles under the eyes become a faded memory for now.
“It's a relief. I feel like pressure has come off now and then back to the new product on Monday. But pressure has come off," Giovanna laughed. The work never ends for first year students!
The process of designing can be hard and frustrating at times. The designs are all over, nothing in place. It’s like a puzzle, all the pieces are there but time is needed to know where each one goes. And like a puzzle, once all the pieces are together, a beautiful final product is created from the time and effort spent. Giovanna couldn’t see her design alive until she finished the skirt.
“I was literally like it all came true because in the 12th stage of the calico I couldn't see it, so it's not in denim. And then when I finished it , it was like the vision came true.”
“I felt like it was a good experience and I feel like next year I already know what to expect and I'll be more prepared And do another masterpiece.” - Lucino Carlos
And everything was worth it to experience something that definitely won’t be the last of its kind for them. The parents of both students and models cheered on. Students and models walked hand in hand, feeling proud of what they had created. One question left to the audience, what more will these students create?