Show Report: University of Westminster BA A/W 20

by Hetty Mahlich on 14 February 2020

The University of Westminster BA show dished out sexy paganism, queer eccentricity and the talent to keep your eye on.

The University of Westminster BA show dished out sexy paganism, queer eccentricity and the talent to keep your eye on.

On Friday evening, PVC and paganism met queer peacocking and the messy reality of life, affirming the University of Westminster BA's show's well-deserved slot on the London Fashion Week schedule for the third year running. Following in the footsteps of Westminster alumni Priya Ahluwalia and Liam Hodges, 13 designers across men's and women's wear debuted their work: the line-up had been whittled down in the weeks previously by a panel including SHOWstudio's fashion editor Georgina Evans.

Fennuala Butterfield looked to pagan costume and adult films, sexing up the girl next door, prairie-style. Virginal cotton dresses were paired with red sweetie wrapper PVC corsets and hats inspired by seventies make-up ads. Floral and lace bloomers opened to reveal the PVC knickers beneath, paired with a corset cum hooded jacket in tweed, bubblegum pink and flashes of red. As Romeo famously declared, 'O trespass sweetly urged! Give me my sin again!'

Fennuala Butterfield, Westminster BA

Menswear designer Pols. a.k.a. Polly Henderson, offered up contemporary nostalgia with a mixture of artisanal and tech processes. Hand knits and traditional wools, donated to her by Manteco and Alexander McQueen, were compounded with sportswear fabrics and digital sublimation printing.

‘When we look at an unadulterated snapshot of the world, it is a messy combination, a breaking of codes and constructs. The collection is a version of this,' Henderson explained.

A check Manteco wool duffle coat was finished with fuchsia zippers and oversized epaulettes, styled over a tailored blazer featuring a fine herringbone pattern and closed by a safety pin. The discordant styling was wonderfully reflective of the vibrant and messy reality the Pols. man inhabits.

Pols. Westminster BA

The heap of talent to follow included Steven Stokey-Daley, who explored themes of homosociality for their menswear collection. British public school culture bloomed and softened as Stokey-Daley looked to schools such as Eton and Harrow alongside the films Brideshead Revisited and Maurice for fanciful insight. Straw boating hats were adorned with flowers, as if picked from the vast school grounds. Dry, burnt oranges and crimsons were reminiscent of the 17th century Dutch still life paintings one might expect to hang in the schools' dark, oak-panelled corridors. They were paired most delectably with a cream bodysuit evoking regatta racing attire, whilst candy-stripe pink school ties were tied ready for morning assembly.

Steven Stokey-Daley, Westminster BA

While her inflatable accessories got smartphones roaring, it was Marina Patalano's wild array of colourful prints, some reminiscent of your nan's sixties tea cosy, which transported us away to a land imbued with folklore. Entitled The Complete Tales of Women and Others as Subaltern Natives, the collection represented marginalised Nordic communities, with exaggerated silhouettes referencing national costume. Patalano's heroines and their contemporaries took control of their narratives, taking them out of folkloric tradition and into modern reality.

Menswear designer Dominic Huckbody closed the show with a collection themed around relationships before and after the internet. A dusty blue knitted silk and cotton vest made with WATTEAU//SUMPTER KNITS gradually eroded, like moss, to reveal the male model's chest beneath. Juxtaposing autonomy and intimacy, prints were based on grease marks and a sense of loss ran throughout; a relationship lost, re-imagined, reminisced upon, leaving one aching for more.

Marina Patalano, Westminster BA
Dominic Huckbody, Westminster BA

To follow, the BA course's collections were unpicked for ripe exploration over the weekend with a Vogue House window takeover, in conjunction with modular studio CommuneEAST. Collaged across the windows of the Hanover Square offices, CommuneEAST worked to create a new digital language for the designers to communicate their collections and thought processes. Reference points were scanned in 3D to create animated GIFS and AR effects, made digitally discoverable through QR codes or through Instagram whilst exploring the physical display. Merging our own reality with the digital world, graduate collections in their entirety were given the extension and thought they deserved.


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