Men in dresses and re-imagined tailoring reigned supreme at Birmingham City University, with notable mentions to structural and quirky knits. Birmingham’s students used accessories with great aplomb, making them key features of many collections, whilst their shoes were amongst the best I’ve seen. On the clothes front the materials used were innovative and inspiring and the shapes pushed boundaries.
Kat Reynolds highly structured knitwear pieces focussed on strong shoulders, with one jumper having an almost studded appearance, but all created through manipulated knit. These knit pieces were paired with subtle kaleidoscopic prints and block colour items, which broke the high impact looks subtly. A palette of slate grey, lilac, mint and soft blues gave continuity to the collection and tied together well.
Aztec references met 80s streetwear at Jade Gilchrist. Huge acrylic earrings, bearing the image of a South American style goddess were reflected in bold prints, featuring the same motif. Huge platform black trainers created a contrast with some of the lighter silks which were used in the construction of bomber style jackets and oversized bat winged tops. Prints of block Aztec shapes in bright colours were accented with black chevron leggings creating a bold but laid back vibe.
Fetish met prom in James Whitehouse’s collection, with classic ideas from the fetish scene; lace up black leather pencil skirts, skin tight rubber and staggeringly high black patent shoes, being mixed with a subtle and girlish rose motif, laser cut into the rubber. An all black collection was broken by the most prom-like dress, a peachy rubber number with the rose cut-out all over, structured with warped hoops, brought back to fetish with shiny rubber leggings.
Miles Dunphy’s New York knits were amongst the most striking menswear pieces so far. Blocks of royal blue, orange and yellow were broken by black white floral prints, which featured on the lining of some of the outerwear. Slouchy pieces were mixed with panelling whilst layering highlighted the brightly coloured hand drawn elephant prints. This elephant motif was cleverly worked in the structure of knitwear also.
Dusky pink got a makeover as part of a strong body con collection by Beth Twigg. Panelling in white, slate grey and the afore mentioned pink created a sleek, sporty aesthetic. Metallic details created a highlight, including the silver metal Peter Pan collars. The most striking accessory though was the shiny, metallic visor that accompanied all looks, tying together the references of the collection into a cohesive vision.
Sophie McKeating’s equestrian aesthetic was clear from the moment the first model wearing a riding hat strode onto the catwalk. Her re-imagining of an oft-mined inspiration was innovative and exciting. A voluminous navy cape had real presence whilst her use of long black tassels referenced the glossy manes of thoroughbreds.
Birmingham City University portfolio pages on ARTSTHREAD
Image credit: Simon Armstrong, simonarmstrong.com