There are quite a few exciting finalists in the various categories of the current edition of London's Graduate Fashion Week (from 3rd to 6th June), yet there is an institution that has already won - Edinburgh College of Art (ECA). For years the Scottish college has presented outstanding sell-out shows with young graduates showcasing striking collections.
Mal Burkinshaw, ECA Fashion Programme Director, recently stated on the college's site: "Our graduating year have developed imaginative and innovative concepts, which I am sure will captivate audiences." They surely did and yesterday's runway didn't disappoint, closing with two strong contenders - Maddy Stringer and Aurélie Fontan.
Fashion fans familiar with the GFW 2018 advertising campaign will definitely remember Stringer's designs as her ample and bold red coat was featured in one of the ads, modelled by stunning Char Ellesse.
Stringer designed a collection featuring a series of pieces characterised by architectural shapes: her coats are made with red plastic that looks like blood, but decorated with embossed motifs that call to mind the swirly decors of carpets.
The final effect is Comme des Garçons' all red Spring/Summer 2015 collection meets Nicolas Roeg's Venetian horror Don't Look Now meets The Handmaid's Tale with an interior design twist (see also the embossed motif of chairs on her metallic blue leather trousers).
Stringer's main inspirations for these visually striking PVC pieces were actually her childhood dolls' house and hotel soap packets.
French student Aurélie Fontan has instead been focusing on an intense exploration of the boundaries between art, fashion and science.
A pioneer in biodesign, Fontan's previous projects focused on making textiles from fungi and included workshops at the ASCUS lab at Edinburgh's Summerhall to create slime molds, a type of free living single celled organisms that she then used as the basis for the design of a coat.
In her graduate collection she tried to present alternatives to fast fashion and waste/plastics coming up with monumental black and bronze ensembles made with a 100% biodegradable grown kombucha textile covered with a non plastic-based coating and seamed with soluble cable ties.
Entitled "Tensegrity", a term that describes complex forms that use simple elements held in balance by opposing forces, and inspired by the repetitive building patterns and '60s Parisian suburban architecture by Ricardo Bofill, the ecofriendly collection also included recycled cork and rubber and upcycled carpet underlay.
ECA doesn't seem to be featured in many of the supposedly "Best Design School" charts of the sort that, rather than producing an interesting critical debate about education, only end up generating hate among universities and colleges, but its students keep on presenting coherent, outstanding and well-researched collections, accompanied by Instagram feeds focused on their textile work.
Students from ECA appear as finalists in different categories at the current edition of GFW, while both Stringer and Fontain are among the finalists of the "Best of GFW18 Show" Award.
In a nutshell, as highlighted in previous posts, it looks like the less celebrated universities and colleges out there may be the ones achieving better results and forming more interesting graduates.
So, if you are looking for a university course in fashion and design, you may want to consider leaving behind fancy institutions with cool reputations, and opt for smaller ones where you may be able to use your time to develop personal and consistent researches to genuinely help creating a more exciting and renewable fashion industry.