This year, Central Saint Martins B.A. (Hons) fashion graduates were forced to complete their final assignments in quarantine. Under normal circumstances, there’s an internal selection of students who make it to the runway, but because of the pandemic, collections had to be scaled back and presented on the school’s new digital platform.
Out of 106 students, there are eight that I think truly embody what it means to be creepy.
Violette Villeneuve, Fashion Design Womenswear
Violette Villeneuve kicked off presentations with ‘Life at Last,’ capturing the essence of self and all its fragments. Through cutting, collaging, re-joining and laminating recycled and repurposed materials, the Parisienne designer collects both painful and cherished experiences in her hand-painted hemp fibre backpack supported by a hand-carved metal frame. Using biodegradable flexible resin, second-hand jackets, organic cotton and recycled nylon and denim, Violette credits the attitude of her collection to album artwork from The Cramps, The Cure and Keith Flint from The Prodigy. One of her main references, though, is to Marcel Duchamp, the painter that put art back in the service of the mind.
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Nikita Chernyshov, Fashion Design Menswear
Nikita Chernyshov celebrated the “golden age of grotesque” with ‘TRAGEDY, ECSTASY, DOOM AND SO ON…’. High waisted wide-leg trousers, cropped suit jackets and large patch pockets speak to exaggerated proportions while distressed silk, leather and linen play to textile fetishes. Besides the gimp hoods, the ultimate accessory had to be Nietzsche’s ‘The Birth of Tragedy,’ which Nikita was re-reading at the collection’s inception to help cultivate “profound art rooted in profound sadness.” Adding to his myriad of influences are “1920’s Berlin, and its radiant opulence, Nabokov, the cabaret culture, Claude Cahun, mysteries of androgyny, the symbolism of colour, Tarkovsky, reflections, Rothko’s ‘inner light,’ all things uncanny and the fetish of inanimate objects.”
Slid Needham, Fashion Design Womenswear
Birth² by Slid Needham is a collection that embodies the trans experience on both a personal and broader level. This second birth opposes the compartmentalization of the trans body and dissection of the hyperfeminine. With a disregard for gender binaries, the English designer’s DIY methods reflect how mass-manufactured body parts are ripped up and stitched back together, similar to a sex doll. Large, intimidating silhouettes ensue, acting as a defence mechanism in this “dark tale of a man-made world taken over by womankind” — Sure to be one of many Slid From the Fabric Flaps.
Rui Deng, Fashion Design Womenswear
Once upon a time, in a charming forest, there was a wedding party joined by a mermaid, a knight, a botanist, a zoologist, a florist and a tailor. Each character wore hand-drawn, hand-weaved textile coated in plastic, giving the body a trellis-like appearance. However, the plants and the trees did not consume them; they acted as armour, finished with ornate face shields. Inspired by King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table and the collage work of Ruth van Beek, Chinese designer Rui Deng crafted this fairytale for her graduate collection to include all the trimmings of a happy marriage.
Xinyao Liang, Design With Marketing
Xianyo Liang developed her collection, A Logical Rib, around the story of Adam and Eve, but in this version, women aren’t dependent on men. Made entirely from recycled and recyclable materials, her blend of lingerie and outerwear challenges the perceptions and expectations placed on the female body. The idea came to her last summer in China when she wore a cotton bra top that caused people to stare. Under the male gaze, “She doesn’t own a language; She doesn’t have her own spirit or logic; She may be reshaped anytime.” In the background, Pulp Fiction is playing, and we hear Fabienne explaining to Butch why she wants a potbelly, “It’s unfortunate what we find pleasing to the touch and pleasing to the eye is seldom the same.”
Jamie Sutherland, Fashion Design Womenswear
Splitting his time between Tokyo, London and his hometown of Norwich, Jamie Sutherland visited the places that he dreamed in and the places that he dreamed of while working on his collection. Looking back at childhood photos, he recalls being comfortable as the only boy wearing dresses at school. Happy memories like these are tempered by the realization that you can’t use your imagination to escape the painful memories. This gives credence to a dress covered in 35 pounds of used NOS canisters and a head to toe toilet paper look that is struck through the heart with a branch from the same tree that stands outside of his childhood bedroom window, “the one I looked at every night as I imagined my life at Saint Martins,” Jamie says. “This is where it all began, and I have returned here for the end.”
Carl Gustaf von Platen, Fashion Design Womenswear
For Carl Gustaf von Platen, all the dinner table is a stage and all the men and women merely players. Coming from a silver-spoon Korean-Swedish family, his “first and possibly final collection” attempts to swallow and digest tradition to make something beautiful. The starting point: his late father’s Loden hunting jacket, now complete with a removable poacher’s bustle, central action vent and SEK currency buttons. Bolstering Carl’s convertible pieces are a muff dress, a knit ‘duck’ jumper that doubles as a shoulder bag, and my personal favourite, a natural indigo dyed napkin bra paired with a chanterelle puffer skirt. As for the marionettes, their level of autonomy is comparable to dinner table etiquette.
Jerryl Joseph, Fashion Design Menswear
On the island of St. Lucia, located near Mon Repos, there is a town called Mamiku. It’s the place that Jerryl Martelly had in mind when designing his collection. Influenced by the land’s self-sufficiency and his internships at Acne Studios and Craig Green, Jerryl’s meticulous construction of manual workwear meets sportswear relies on upcycled military duffle bags. These offerings are best suited for cooler temperatures, hence the walk-in freezer setting. “Cut with function and free from constraints, every garment has protection at the forefront,” ready and waiting with a beaded salt-marsh mask.