Cutting edge of fashion

Final-year students on the fashion design course at Northumbria University will be displaying their talents at Graduate Fashion Week this weekend.

Sylvie Hall

Sylvie Hall

FOR her final collection Sylvie, from Benton, North Tyneside, was influenced by tribal dance and body movement. The 23-year-old also looked at body art used by tribes and translated it into her knitwear.

The designer developed a fabric using silk and cotton and plated it with lycra so that clothes would stretch. Her collection consists of six jumpers and six catsuits.

“I used it to make tight body catsuits,” she says.

“I wanted to try and make it like a second skin.

“I really wanted to push knitwear to a different level. I didn’t use traditional mediums such as knitwear to keep warm. I wanted it to be more glamorous and to use colour.

“On the borders I have used shiny bright translucent colours that reflect the light and help to show the body shape.

“I am over the moon about going to Graduate Fashion Week. It’s something that I have always wanted to do.

“It’s a real personal achievement to be selected. I have always wanted to be a fashion designer since I was a little girl. My dream job would be to work for Missoni or Pucci.”

Kayleigh Dunn

KAYLEIGH’S flair for fashion began when she undertook a fine art course at North Tyneside college and she hasn’t looked back since.

I just fell in love with it," says the 23-year-old, from Widdrington, Northumber- land.

"Working on my final collection has been an amazing experience. It has been really hard work but I have enjoyed it. It’s a menswear capsule collection for the modern man inspired by my love of really simple pieces and nice subtle details.

"There’s a suit in there and a parka. It’s based on 60s style. I have taken a classic garment and given it a twist of my own.

"I have mainly used navy in the most luxurious fabrics I could."

Kayleigh’s collection consists of 18 pieces and she began researching it back in October. Her mum Julie runs a fabric shop, 1st for Fabrics, in Benton.

She says: "My mum cried when I told her I was going to be displaying my work on the catwalk at London Fashion Week. I am so excited about it. It’s a fantastic opportunity, especially in today’s job market. It really gets you noticed."

Alison Winstanley

ALISON’S menswear collection was inspired by hip- hop music and a 1930s American film called Grapes of Wrath.

She says: "I have used silhouettes based on oversized and undersized shapes.

"It’s probably quite a lot of trousers in there, I am a tomboy myself. I’ve used big silhouettes in trousers to skinny trousers and I’ve used different detailing.

"I have used orange on my borders and used lots of dark grey and I used another fabric for highlighting detail.

"It’s been quite stressful bringing it all together. It’s taken about four and five months to bring it all together from the development stage.

"I have tried to pace myself and keep on top of everything.

"It’s hard for it to sink in that I am going to Graduate Fashion Week.

"Until I see my clothes coming down the catwalk I won’t believe it.

"At the moment I don’t have time to get excited so I am really looking forward to the show.

"All my hard work will be worth it.

"I’d really like to work in sportswear and I am hoping that opportunities might come up at fashion week.

All of my family are really proud of me."

Mazwell Holmes

THE 23-year-old, from Jesmond, has produced a menswear collection based on a turn-of-the-century gentleman’s wardrobe.

The tailored collection includes evening shirts, dinner jackets and dress trousers. He used classic fabrics such as wools, cottons and silks.

"I was influenced quite a lot by art and an artist called James Tissot," explains Maxwell.

"I tried to stay away from manmade fabrics as much as possible and use traditional fabrics.

"I have used sombre tones throughout the collection which has 15 pieces.

"I’m really happy about going to fashion week as more people get to see my work. I am hoping to get spotted. I have a couple of job interviews, I’d love to work abroad."

Jodie McCardle

BUDDING designer Jodie hopes Graduate Fashion Week will open doors for her in the fashion world.

The 22-year-old from Cramlington would love to stay and work in the North East, where she has completed placements with couture bridal designer Leigh Hetherington.

She says: "It’s obviously a very competitive industry especially with the climate at the moment.

"It’s going to be tougher to get a job and a lot of the jobs are in London but I’d love to stay in Newcastle."

Jodie’s womenswear collection is based on 1950s cocoon shapes and mainly features separates including jeans, skirts, tops and jackets that can be mixed and matched.

She says: "I took the 1950s shape forward and used trims on dresses and skirts. My muse was Mischa Barton.

"I wanted to do something that was feminine but edgy and have pieces that you could use during the day and at night. I am so excited about fashion week because I have not been before. There’s going to be a great atmosphere.

"After the course I am hoping to do a business- related course to help me go into business. My designs are very commercial so I’d like to work for a high street chain.

"I really love See by Chloe and Marc Jacobs."

Louise Brownless

LOUISE always wanted to work in fashion and has been influenced by her dad Geoff, who owns Union Clothing, in Grey Street, Newcastle, with Louise’s uncle, Doug Ellison.

"I have grown up with it," says the 23-year-old from Gosforth.

"My dad thinks it’s great. He likes that I love design. He said I grew up sitting on a cutting table."

Louise’s collection is based on the character Withnail from the film Withnail and I.

She says: "It’s got lots of military detailing and I have taken historical references and used them in pieces. I went to the Discovery Museum and Greenwich Maritime Museum and looked through their archives.

"The collection includes a suit, coat and knitwear and I have used English fabrics. I am excited about fashion week as I think it will open lots of doors."

:: GRADUATE Fashion Week takes place at Earl’s Court London between June 7 and 11.

The event, which is sponsored by River Island, is attended by industry and Press from across the world and acts as a showcase for up-and- coming fashion design talent from UK universities.

It is now in its 18th year.

Richard Bradbury, chief executive of River Island, says: “Our industry thrives on new ideas and I think that now, more than ever before, it is important to inject new energy and life into our design studios and creative teams.

“Our sponsorship of Graduate Fashion Week has put us in the enviable position of being among the first to witness and embrace the emergence of some of the brightest new stars in the industry and I am proud to say that a large percentage of our current team is full of talent sourced at this exciting event.” Christopher Hodge, programme leader of the fashion design course at Northumbria University, believes Graduate Fashion Week gives his students a unique opportunity.

He says: “It’s the 18th year we have been involved as a university. We have been right there from the early days.

“It’s a big international show that’s not only attended by the world’s Press but international employers. We have had past students who have got jobs from showcasing at Graduate Fashion Week.

“It’s hard to get a job in fashion, but we are finding students are going into a broader variety of jobs such as marketing, journalism and buying. A few students have also set up their own small businesses.”

For information on Graduate Fashion Week, go to


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