RCA Picks

RCA Picks

I'm late, I'm late for an all-important Royal College of Art fashion student round-up!  I'm mozying along at the moment with a good deal of projects, work and yes, more ongoing house-hunting, so this has been a little delayed.  No time like the present though as is still on until the end of the month.  The itself is by virtue of showcasing MA students as opposed to the BA grads of the student shows of late, was a brilliant showcase of rigorously honed technical experimentation and immersive discipline.  These are graduates and designers ready to apply their research and expertise to jobs at houses and brands or on a more optimistic level, to their own independent start-up endeavours.  I'm more inclined to think that any of the four featured here would flourish in knitwear or textiles research positions at houses, where a laboratory-esque environment is fostered (constantly reminded of Nicola Ghesqui√®re's description of how he ran his Balenciaga studio like a science lab) where they can go about their ways with cutting up leather, dipping knits in plastics or coating surfaces with silicone.   

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Seiya Chen – In one of the few obviously "themed" collections of the RCA line-up, presented her version of speeding around a skate bowl after getting into skate herself.  High fashion's interpretations of the subculture have been numerous but rather than referencing the real uniform of skaters, Chen looked at conveying speed and action by picking up on the chevron patterns in road marks and arrows, and how they would traverse around the body.  Cutting up and folding black leather into the correct formation became Chen's central motif and they'd appear unexpectedly alongside dusky pink or hazard yellow silks or contrasted with lame sewn on the other side of the leather. They are strategically placed on the curved-shouldered sweatshirts, cropped gauchos and A-line skirts, bending around as though there were numerous hairpin turns on the body.  Skate might be "so hot right now" but there's definitely more to see in Chen's surface detailing arsenal.   

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Alice Gibberd – At first glance, it's difficult to figure out 's deceptive knitwear.  She might have notched up a technical first with her heat-pressed  polyurethane yarn knit which meant she was able to raw-cut her garments.  Coming from a family or architects, Gibberd has long been obsessed with the interplay between light and darkness which has resulted in her largely monochrome and controlled collection.  Once her technique had been finely honed in, she concentrated on the contrast between sections in the garments which were heat pressed (where it has the appearance of leather) and the sections which were au natural as it were.  Even where the "knit" looks visible in the mohair sweaters, the yarn has actually been meticulous combed to ensure there's a high level of control, which Gibberd favours.  It's a real mastery of textural composition as well as adding a new technical strand to knitwear, which would benefit from further research or perhaps a major house's endorsement.  


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Ana Corina del Pinal Saenz – There's more technical wizardry from , who wanted to create garments of minimal ease but maximal visual impact.  Her silhouettes really "flowed" on the catwalk as they slinked and slided their way around the body.  Your eyes were following the central textural theme of silicone coating and the way they changed the silhouettes on the body.  A lot of people thought it was latex but in fact del Pinal Saenz experimented meticulously with coating different fabrics with liquid silicone, spreading it on to a surface in a thin layer so that it would solidify to add weight and subtle decoration to the fabrics as well as finishing the edges so they wouldn't need to be hemmed.  Depending on the base fabric be it a smooth silk or a woven viscose, and how the silicone was brushed on to the fabric, you'd get different effects.  For instance del Pinal Saenz would drag a metal comb through the silicone to achieve a fine-lined nubbly surface.  There were also pigments she could add to get different coloured effects.  There's infinite scope here for del Pinal Saenz to take this idea further for herself or for others.  

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Xiao Li – is one of the only graduates here, whose trajectory I've followed through from her BA at London College of Fashion to a fashion reality show in China to winning prizes at Pitti Filati and now to her final MA collection.  It's most definitely an upward trajectory where she has gained discipline and built her up knitwear technique.  Li took the pastel colour cue from the foam sculptures of Eindhoven-based art duo Raw Color and looked to create exaggerated proportions with giant matte knits.  The smoothness and almost plaster-like texture of the knits were achieved with a cotton yarn and then further accentuated with moulded silicone pieces debossed with the cable knit patterns or the knits themselves were dipped with silicone.  Xiao then adorned her knits with cast silicone jewellery so that they blended in with the garments as though they were part and parcel with each other.  A power sports mesh in pastel hues also gave the collection an extra element that meant nothing looked heavy or overwrought (in truth, the pieces do weigh a ton despite looking like effortless marshmallows on the catwalk).  Li is keen to start her own thing and I for one would definitely cheer her on to amp up the knitwear contingent in London.   

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16 comments

Leave a comment
  1. WOWS

    2013-06-24 at 11:50 AM

    Stunning designs!!!
    Don’t miss today my Comfy chic outfit……wearing my New Yellow Jumpsuit and T-Bar sandals!.
    Kisses from
    – My Bloglovin

  2. Sophie Ferdinandsen

    2013-06-24 at 1:50 PM

    So talented.. It’s beautiful.. All of it 😉

  3. designcloseup

    2013-06-24 at 2:29 PM

    Xiao Li’s collection is fantastic, her silicone/knitwear mix was something I’ve never heard of until you recently mentioned her in your blog some time ago I believe. Seiya Chen’s collection made me smile, it’s quite clever too!

  4. The Fashion Fraction

    2013-06-24 at 2:55 PM

    oh my good. I love these looks

  5. Domininews

    2013-06-24 at 4:42 PM

    beautiful graphics !

  6. Wonderlandharu

    2013-06-24 at 5:02 PM

    Great picks, I love the unusual materials used in these collections, and especially Xiao Li is my favourite with all the pastels and oversizing!!
    – wonderlandharu.blogspot.com

  7. Alessia

    2013-06-24 at 6:17 PM

    Amazing!!! Crazy for fashion?
    Just check here!

  8. jean cave

    2013-06-24 at 8:02 PM

    loved the pared -backness of it

  9. Lunarstyle.wordpress.com

    2013-06-24 at 9:13 PM

    I love the soft colors with the chunky knits by Xiao Li!

  10. jeanne berre

    2013-06-24 at 9:30 PM

    Very nice work materials. Graphics very interesting. Collection mesh very very successful, a lot of ideas. thank you

  11. Broken Cookies

    2013-06-25 at 6:25 PM

    Li’s collection is our favourite!
    xx, Sabinna and David
    Broken Cookies

  12. Umrah packages

    2013-06-26 at 11:20 AM

    It’s great to see good information being shared and also to see fresh, creative
    ideas that have never been done before.

  13. Peter

    2013-06-26 at 8:51 PM

    These are the most interesting student collections I’ve seen on the blog… So many things I haven’t seen before. Gibberd and Li’s collections bring to mind the painted knits Wang showed for his first collection at Balenciaga… I like theirs more!

  14. Gem

    2013-06-28 at 12:00 PM

    Do I have a favourite? Its so hard to decide I love them all. I adore the over-sized pastel knit from Xiao Li which is so delicious it could have been sprinkled in sugar dust.And Seiya Chen collection isn’t quite as playful but has an extra dose of sophistication. Actually I do have a favourite…Xiao Li then Seiya Chen

  15. amel

    2013-07-05 at 7:31 AM

    oh I just love sweaters, warm, but today sweaters are more creative, more color, more prints. The bottom pic are so Japan pop-ish, remind me of Marimekko, Takashi Murakami, etc etc…

  16. shividor

    2015-02-22 at 4:32 AM

    it’s really nice!

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