Graduate Fashion Week 2008: The Gala Awards

On Thursday evening I took a trip down to Earls Court to attend the Gala Awards for Graduate Fashion Week. What an evening! Awards ceremonies are long winded at the best of times, so put it this way, I knew what I was in for. Truth be told it wasn’t too bad.

For readers who aren’t familiar with Graduation Fashion Week, it basically serves as a launch pad for the best BA Graduate fashion design students in the UK to get their work noticed by the big wigs of the fashion industry. The week culminates in a ceremony in which awards are handed to the graduates whose work the judges deem to be outstanding. Graduate Fashion Week is currently in its 17th year, so its been going for quite a while now.

London’s fashion elite; Henry Holland, Agyness Deyn, Julian MacDonald and of course Claudia Schiffer (who was part of the monitoring panel, and whom we were told took her job VERY seriously!) along with many important industry insiders turned up to show their support. Host of the evening Caryn Franklin had the tough job of keeping everyone entertained, and she did a great job.


I was eager to see fresh creative talent and it’s fair to say I got what I came for. The sheer quality of the work was amazing. I kid you not when I state that a number of pieces from the graduate collections were much better than a couple of shows I’ve sat through during London Fashion Week.

Notable students included knitwear designer Ria Thomas (Nottingham Trent University). Her designs were exquisite, I literally wanted to jump on the catwalk and nab all her pieces. The judges must have felt the same way as Ria was awarded the Pringle of Scotland Visionary Knitwear Award.

Another name to remember is Craig Fellows (University of Northampton). I loved his exaggerated full bodied 50’s inspired skirts. Sadly, he lost out to Jessica Au (Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication) in the Zandra Rhodes Catwalk Textiles category.

Jessica Au’s unique take on floral prints for menswear was the favourite of the night as she also went home with the River Island Gold Award. As you can tell by the name, this is the most coveted award and the winner of the Gold Award receives a prize of £20,000.

Sponsors of GFW – River Island deserve an award in their own right. They did a great job of making this year its best to date. Stay tuned folks, it looks like next year may be just as grand as River Island confirmed they’ll be sponsoring the event next year too.

To conclude, Britain’s got talent and the proof is at Graduate Fashion Week!

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