Graduate Fashion Week 2011

Photos and news from GFW in Earl’s Court, London…


Once again we had a great time at Graduate Fashion Week, selling lots of books and meeting lots of great students and staff who either discovered our books for the first time, or were kind enough to tell us that they use and love them already.


Photos from some of the shows we managed to see are coming soon, but we also wanted to mention a few of the other things that were going on.

Alex Russell, author of our new book The Fundamentals of Printed Textile Design, stopped by for a chat and we will soon be publishing an interview with him on the blog. Find out who his favourite designers are and how he ended up both teaching and working on a freelance basis as a designer himself.


Alex on the Manchester stand:


A spread from his new book:


As well as our mannequin competition (winners announced here) we managed to give away a whole set of our fashion design series to Croydon Higher Education College who were pretty pleased!


We also attended a talk for All Walks Beyond the Catwalk. This is an initiative founded by Caryn Franklin, Debra Bourne and Erin O’Connor. According to their website they are “an organisation that recognises the power the fashion industry has to communicate positive messages to women and men about their bodies and acts.” They believe in promoting a broader range of beauty than is currently seen on the catwalk and in fashion media generally.

The talk was also attended by MP Lynne Featherstone, who, after giving statistics about young people suffering from depression, low self-esteem and eating disorders, announced the opening of the first ever Centre for Diversity with director Mal Burkinshaw (Edinburgh College of Art). Speaking about current trends in fashion she said: “No one should be enslaved to a relentless conformity…fashion can change the world with educators leading the way.” (We were tweeting throughout so go to our twitter account to see the live updates.)



There were presentations by Southampton Solent, Bournemouth and Edinburgh College of Art on their collaboration with All Walks and how the students have been influenced by the campaign.

The talk by Mal Burkinshaw, about his students’ Icon Project, was actually very emotional. He said that it had been one of the most rewarding things that he had ever been part of. A group of students had to design their final collection for ‘real’ people, including those who were older or younger, plus size or one woman who was pregnant and whose changing shape proved a challenge for her student! But the bond between the student designers and the models was apparently tremendous by the end of the project, and the message that the clothes being designed needed to be worn by people other than catwalk models obviously got across.

One of the major points being made was that all models should be healthy – and how by the end of the project, Mal’s students at Edinburgh were worrying about the weight of some of their models, rather than expecting them all to have the same, traditional ‘catwalk figure’.

Two of the catwalk models taking part in the Bournemouth show:


On the lack of model diversity and the dangerous effects of airbrushing models on young people who may not realise the extent to which pictures have been doctored, Debra Bourne said: “We are arriving at a time where reality is a subversive movement“. The plans for exhibitions and collaborations with universities and colleges that All Walks currently have planned aim to combat this trend, and promote the idea that ‘diversity can improve craftsmanship and creativity rather than impede it‘.


Caryn Franklin spoke at the Bournemouth/Salisbury show about ‘emotionally considerate design‘ and how they are currently visiting colleges around to country to promote ‘fashion for positive change‘.

One of the older male models seemed to be enjoying himself so much on the catwalk that he caused a stir each time he appeared and ended with this rather flamboyant bow in the gala show:


I also caught him being interviewed about his participation:


Have a look at the All Walks website for more information – if you are a fashion student they may be able to visit your university/college. They also have a blog – see their recent post about H&M’s male swimwear models (and scroll further down for pictures from the Edinburgh College of Art Icons project). They have worked with designers like Vivienne Westwood and photographers such as Rankin to promote change. The founders say “We love fashion in all shapes and sizes. Like the multitude of silhouettes and garments our industry both produces and promotes, beauty is also individual. It’s not restricted by race, shape, age or size.

There will be an interview with Caryn in the second edition of Basics Fashion Design 01: Research and Design, which Simon Seievewright is currently writing.


Finally I have to mention James May’s man lab – completely unexpectedly after a show the Top Gear presenter appeared on the catwalk with a range of models appearing in various ‘manly’ outfits behind him, sporting boiler suits, hammers and even a jacket incorporating an antler!