Alternative Fashion Week

Essex students were parading their latest creations at Alternative Fashion Week last Wednesday in London. KATY EVANS braved the cold to report back on the show.

Essex students were parading their latest creations at Alternative Fashion Week last Wednesday in London. Katy Evans and photographer James Fletcher braved the cold to report back on the show.

BOYS in skirts, girls dressed as rare birds and even a coat made out of a sleeping bag. These were just some of the unusual outfits seen on the catwalk at Alternative Fashion Week.

The icy wind whistled through Crispin Place at the new Spitalfields Traders Market where onlookers sat with hot cups of coffee in an attempt to stay warm, while students from around the country sent models out in a variety of skimpy garments.

Swatch was this year's sponsors so the theme of the event was 'time', interpreted in a number of different ways.


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Three colleges and 11 individual designers took part in Wednesday's show, which ended with a menswear collection by second year students at the Colchester Institute - last year's winners of the college award.

This year the Essex students had produced a menswear collection, which featured suede waistcoats covered in holes, leather jackets lined with fur and sheepskin, and cowboy-inspired chaps (the protective garment worn over trousers).

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The students had been given off-cuts with which to make their outfits, including some from well-known labels Lacoste and Red or Dead.

Gemma Woodcraft had turned a piece of red leather into an eye-catching bomber jacket.

The 21-year-old from Heybridge, near Maldon, is half-way through her BA (Hons) degree in Art and Design. She used a variety of techniques to produce the jacket, under which was a denim waistcoat.

“There's embossing, appliqué, print - plus the material is distressed, which links it to the theme as it shows being worn over time. Also, the print is of Swatch watch parts.”

Showing a green 'inside-out' waistcoat and matching trousers was Heidi English, 31, who finishes a two-year HNC in Art and Design this summer. She explained the link to time behind her outfit.

“The front has 17th and 18th-century buckles which were dug up by someone with a metal detector,” she said.

As well as time being the main theme, the students were also asked to consider geometric shapes and paisley patterns.

“On the back of the waistcoat is a detailed paisley design made by punching holes in the leather,” added Heidi.

Amie Swainland, 19, from Braintree had made a sheepskin and leather halterneck waistcoat on her HND Art and Design course, which she said nodded towards caveman days.

“I've used lots of browns and beiges and stitched fabrics together with embroidery. I also used dyes and lots of embellishment.

“I'm really more interested in textiles rather than fashion - I'd never made a whole outfit before but I've really enjoyed doing this.”

Also on the HND course is Amanda Shynn, 24, who had made a light brown sheepskin jacket with black collar and cuffs, a waistcoat underneath with white leather on the lapels, and grey trousers. Her design incorporated the shapes of cogs in a clock.

“This was a really fun project to work on. It took me about 3-4 weeks to complete the making, plus another two for the research.

Her ideas of the course and the Colchester Institute were equally glowing. “It's all gone really well. It's probably been one of the best decisions I've made and I hope to find work in June when I finish.

Jessica Haley, 21, from Maldon, hopes to become a fashion illustrator for a glossy magazine such as Vogue. She showed a brown jacket with purple fur collar, teamed with black trousers topped by purple chaps (worn by cowboys over their jeans).

“I'm really excited and can't wait,” said Jessica before the show. “I've had stuff in the Colchester Institute's show before but nothing like this.”

Head of fashion and textiles, Mary Ratcliffe, said it was the 10th year the Colchester Institute had been involved in Alternative Fashion Week but the first time they had produced a menswear collection.

“We were fortunate to be one of the first colleges to take part; the organisers have been very supportive.

“It's great for the students to be able to show their work on the catwalk to such a big audience and to get to see other students work.”

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