LFW: The next generation of talent

The London graduate shows are a headhunter's haven. Scouting for the next generation of talent usually starts at school level, which has seen many a designer's graduation collection snapped up, like Alexander McQueen's Jack the Ripper collection by Issy Blow for 5000 pounds, or John Galliano's Les Incroyables by former Browns owner Mrs Burstein, who bought it for re-sale in her eponymous South Molton Street boutique.

So it is without exception that the Central Saint Martins MA graduate show is one of London Style Week’s most highly anticipated events every February, with talent scouts, boutique buyers and journalists all keen to see the industry’s next generation of talent make their first foray onto the catwalk.

It is a chance for the graduates to be seen on the global fashion stage, following in the footsteps of A-list creatives, the aforementioned McQueen and Galliano, but also Phoebe Philo and Stella McCartney, whose stories all began on that very same runway. Curiously, Philo's graduation collection and file have since gone missing, whereas McCartney's CSM collection made headline news following their graduate catwalk show.

LFW: The next generation of talent

This year's outing saw a runway showcasing the collections from 18 designers, potentially a new hotbed of talents who will no doubt be leading the future design houses we know so well. One such talent is Liam Johnson, who's collection featured a white see-through architectural dress with a rectangular hem and sunset print that was exquisite not just for the craft but for the uniqueness of producing something not seen before or tied to the constraints of commerciality. Johnson is a recipient of the L'Wren Scott Scholarship as well as a Lee Alexander MQueen Foundation beneficiary.

Yuhan Wang, another highlight of the show, took inspiration from hotel curtains, tying hand-painted fabrics together to reveal and conceal various aspects of the female body. Wang told Dazed Digital backstage: “The flat I live in faces a hotel, and I see people passing by every day. Everybody wants to see what’s behind the curtain, what stories are playing out. It became a metaphor then, for me, like how women use their clothes to cover themselves, and what kind of stories are they covering up.”

At the forefront of international fashion

Of course it is no wonder that Central Saint Martins attracts the type of talent of this calibre. Its MA Style course has an international profile second to none. The school has valuable industry links and it is a fact, not a boast, that its graduates practice professionally at the forefront of international fashion.

CSM says its postgraduate course is about leading not following, which is precisely the strength of London on the international fashion map.

Images: Liam Johnson, Yuhan Wang CSM Graduate show; courtesy of Central Saint Martins Graduate

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