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Exclusive exposure for DMU designers during London Fashion Week


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Overcoming adversity during a global pandemic has earned talented De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) designers valuable visibility through the Graduate Fashion Foundation (GFF).

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Megan Roberts

Following an unprecedented end to the academic year and the cancellation of Graduate Fashion Week, DMU graduates are excited for the chance to showcase their work through a series of innovative activities at Coal Drops Yard in London.

Organised by GFF to coincide with London Fashion Week (17-22 September), the next six days will celebrate the best work from 150 of the brightest design graduates worldwide, increasing their employment opportunities in the UK and abroad.

Among them will be DMU graduates in Fashion Design, Fashion Textile Design, Footwear Design and Contour Fashion.

A four-day public view of the exhibition will be followed by an industry private view on Monday 21 September, exposing work by DMU graduates to potential recruiters, buyers, stylists and media. Industry professionals will also have the chance to scout talent by appointment in the GFF showroom.

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Cressentia Masuku (photo credit @Roryjamesphoto for GFF)

The activity will culminate in a live-streamed catwalk show at 6pm on Tuesday 22 September featuring a selected group of the very best graduates, including DMU’s Abi Lewer, Cressentia Masuku, Elvira Isenzhulova, Humaira Daud, Kim Beech and Megan Roberts.

Megan’s oversized womenswear outfit is a playful take on children dressing up in their parents’ clothing, with a subtle nod to sportswear. Made from unwanted offcuts, recycled fabrics and second-hand garments, it combines bright colours and multiple layers to create a bold look.

The 21-year-old from North Wales said: “I worked really hard on this piece and I feel like I found myself as a designer in the process. It’s nice to get recognition for that through GFF.”

Inspired by Apartheid in South Africa and her Ndebele culture, Cressentia’s menswear piece symbolises unity. Combining wool and neoprene while featuring hardware such as eyelets and poppers, it incorporates a functional backpack that can store the entire garment or parts of it.

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Abi Lewer (photo credit @Roryjamesphoto for GFF)

“Growing up, I had to make do with what I had, so I would make my own toys using scraps of fencing wire and bottle lids. This inspired my idea that we should be able to build our own garments to feel that we are part of the design process,” said the 26-year old who was born and raised in Zimbabwe.

“I’m still in shock that my work will feature on the GFF catwalk, but this opportunity has really made me believe in myself and my work.”

Abi’s unisex outfit reflects her passion for deconstructed tailoring. It was mostly made from clothing donated by ASOS - where she completed a year-long work placement as a pattern cutting intern – and demonstrates her hands-on approach to the creative process.

The 22-year-old from Maidstone, Kent said: “I’m so grateful to our tutors who have worked hard to make sure our year group wasn’t forgotten. GFF has also gone above and beyond to give us such valuable exposure, which has made us feel really special despite the circumstances.”

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Humaira Daud (photo credit @Roryjamesphoto for GFF)

Exploring the essence of what it means to be truly environmentally friendly, Humaira took used clothes destined for a landfill and made her own patchwork fabric. To minimise waste, she made design features from elements such as linings and laces.

“It’s a great feeling to know that my work will be associated with London Fashion Week. I grew up watching it and never dreamt I would feature on its platform,” said the 21-year-old from Leicester.

Elvira has reinvented the fair isle sweater by adding shoulder and side zips allowing it to transform into a cape. She took both aesthetic and functional inspiration from her heritage, specifically the nomadic cultures of Kazakhstan and Central Asia.

The 23-year-old from Moscow, Russia said: “It's great that GFF is promoting 2020 graduates in the current climate. This kind of support has never been more important and I'm excited to have my outfit on the catwalk and seen by industry professionals.”

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Elvira Isenzhulova

Inspired by her father’s ‘make do and mend’ attitude, Kim’s menswear outfit is a boiler suit with a coordinating coat and hat made from samples and leftover fabrics.

“To finally have an opportunity like this during the pandemic means so much and it has given me the push that I need to continue with new exciting projects and job prospects,” said the 21-year-old from Stoke-on-Trent.

Following the catwalk show, winners of the 22 GFF awards that were judged by leading industry figures will be announced on a second live stream at 6.45pm. DMU’s finalists are Emilia Johnson for the Fashion Technical Drawing Award, Brandon Hayley for the Accessories Award, and Ellie Gray and Hyunjee Park for the Footwear Award.

Watch the GFF class of 2020 digital presentation to see designs by Abi, Cressentia, Hristilina Belichovska and Humaira in action.

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Kim Beech

Posted on Thursday 17th September 2020

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