London College of Fashion MA13: the standouts

Something new for London Fashion Week this season: the addition of the London College of Fashion MA show. I usually have an aversion to student shows (they just end up being soooo long), but in this case, a concise edit of ten graduates was speedily delivered. Chosen by a panel including The Guardian’s Simon Chilvers, SHOWstudio’s Lou Stoppard, On/Off’s Lee Lapthorne and LCF’s Professor Frances Corner, this was seen as an opportunity to put the MA students before an international industry audience and show LCF at its best.

As part of their PR push, I was invited to preview the collections a week in advance. It’s always interesting to know the back story of a collection and see the work up close before watching the final presentation. My top three standouts were Na Di, Yi Xie and Keiko Nishiyama, for their combination of creative thinking and commercial appeal.

Menswear designer Na Di grabbed me instantly; the collection on the rail was so perfectly finished, it looked ready to be shipped straight to the shop floor. Based on Asian culture, traditional Chinese realist paintings and hip hop, the mix of gentlemanly tailoring with sportswear shapes and energetic floral-meets-geometric prints, brought to mind the appeal of Givenchy and Kenzo…


Yi Xie researched the shapes of tropical birds and the work of photographer Hans Bellmer to create separates and dresses made from digital printed neoprene. I love how these colourful, complex pleats create such interesting optical illusions yet flatter the female form so well…


Keiko Nishiyama played with varying scales of English garden-inspired handpainted florals to create these wonderful, striking outfits, complete with matching tights. Beautiful, fun but ultimately wearable…


Talking to the students, I noted how many of them were keen to start their own labels straight away, possibly inspired by the success of past LCF students like J.W Anderson. Professor Corner explained, “at LCF we nurture and support our graduates – the training we provide for running an independent business is second to none.” I was surprised at the number of Chinese students who plan to set up their own labels, not in London but back home. “For the MA13 students returning to China to set up their own brand, they may not have the same level of formal support they would have in London, but they will still have the support of their families as well as easy access to top quality production facilities,” says Corner. “It’s never easy for new graduates to make it on their own, but as can be seen from the exceptional level of talent and innovation on display at MA13, if anyone has a chance of making it, it’s our graduates.”