Ask any designer what they wish they were taught at fashion school, and they're most likely to respond with 'how to build a business'. Too often, designers leave the safety net that their tutors have provided them with to be thrust out into a competitive industry with just as much talent to their name, but no idea how to showcase it. Three decades ago, the graduating dream was to take the helm at a global fashion house - as Galliano did at Dior and Alexander McQueen at Givenchy - though fast forward to 2021 and there seem to be more and more students ambitious enough to want to start their own brand from scratch, one thing certainly hasn't changed though; they're not taught how.
Thankfully, MACHINE-A's Graduate Project is here to help. The annual initiative that's supported by the independent concept store, allows designers who are fresh out of their degree, the opportunity to forego the pressures of the traditional buying schedule and instead, learn about the process step by step - rather than succumbing to fashion's lightning bolt pace. This year, the two lucky graduates who have recently been announced by MACHINE-A's founder Stavros Karelis as the chosen ones for the project are Central Saint Martins MA graduate Johanna Parv and Cameron Williams' label, NUBA.
Speaking of the opportunity such schemes like this one provide young graduates with, Karelis said in a statement:
'It's about working together in a very organic way and building the story together - from the collection and pricing down to the visual aspect of presenting the garments to our audience. It's the designer's first chance to work with a retailer and allows them to build on what it means to run a brand by having the direct feedback from the customer side.'
To celebrate the beginning of both Johanna Parv and Williams' NUBA journey on understanding the inner workings of what it truly means to be a successful designer, MACHINE-A worked with emerging filmmaker and CSM student Macy Kerrigan on capturing the two collections in moving image. Both designers have been chosen explicitly by Karelis because of his interest in the polarity that fashion offers. Keen to express that The Graduate Project isn't about favouring 'a singular aesthetic,' Karelis was more concerned with allowing true innovation to come to full fruition. 'The common thread this year is the elements of synchronisation and duality. With Cameron, it's between the male and female, while with Johanna, it's between fashion and function,' Stavros noted. On exploring these multiple themes within her film, Kerrigan said:
'This multimedia film bridges elements of reality and fantasy through experimental technologies to create an immersive viewing experience. Elements of gender have been explored through performance and movement as vehicles of reflection on its critical themes, and the act of cycling is employed to contrast traditional ideas of luxury dress.'
With it proving more challenging to work your way up to the top than ever before, young designers are filled with lustful, dreamy bouts of determination to carve out their own path rather than swaying through fashion's disordered maze. Thanks to Machine-A, the former is now all the more possible.