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DMU fashion students gain valuable international exposure


Cutting-edge concepts by De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) students are being showcased during Graduate Fashion Week’s (GFW) 30th anniversary celebrations this month.

The world’s largest platform for undergraduate fashion talent has overcome the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic to host a series of exclusive virtual and physical events from Coal Drops Yard in London between 12 and 18 June.

Selected graduating DMU students will have a number of opportunities to show their work to industry professionals, including during the livestreamed GFW Collective catwalk show on 16 June, by displaying their work in the GFW Showroom and through a private portfolio showcase.

The week will culminate in a Best Of catwalk show – spotlighting 25 collections picked by industry judges – and an awards show rewarding the creativity of students from across different fashion disciplines, featuring DMU finalists Hannah Basnett for the Fashion Marketing Award and Lucy Roberts for the Footwear Award supported by Size?.

Design by Harriet Wiltshire - photo by Rory James for GFW

Fashion Design students Harriet Wiltshire, Hannah Weah and Kyla Holden had their collections chosen for the GFW Collective catwalk show, as well as to feature in GFW's Class of 2021 campaign.

Harriet made an impression with her womenswear which combines her passion for both netball and sustainability. She upcycled netball bibs donated by schools and manufacturers, as well as old netballs, to create an outfit comprising of a poncho, top and shorts.

The 21-year-old from Stratford-upon-Avon, who has already secured a job as a trainee buyer at Next, said: “Being able to return to university after lockdown meant that access to the industrial sewing machines allowed me to use parts of old netballs as decorative features in my designs, like pocket flaps, which has helped to give me an edge.

“I think it's every fashion student’s dream and I still can't quite believe I’ve been selected. It’s such an honour to be able to show all the hard work I've put in over the last three years and for it all to be worth it. I just really hope people love my collection as much as I do.”

Design by Hannah Weah - photo by Rory James for GFW

Hannah's collection blends her Ghanaian and Jamaican heritage with London street style. Her jacket and dress combine traditional African textiles with modern fabrics and incorporate 80 metal aglets.

Her distinctive designs earned Hannah the opportunity to collaborate with a client on a print inspired by Ghanaian Kente cloth during an internship with LFTA Sample Unit, a local manufacturer supporting businesses with the development of garments.

“Being selected for the GFW promotional video, as well as the catwalk and showroom is a massive achievement and an honour. I hope physically being there to show my work in detail will lead to work and networking opportunities,” said the 21-year-old from London.

Design by Kyla Holden - photo by Rory James for GFW

Kyla was chosen by GFW for her oversized trench coat in traditional tweed, which incorporates a colourful paisley pattern in crochet. Her innovative work has also featured in Harper’s Bazaar and was shortlisted in the top 20 submissions in Hera’s Sustainable Sweater Design Contest 2021.

The 21-year-old from Nottingham said: “I love mixing woven and knitwear in my collections, so when I learned how to crochet during lockdown I knew I wanted to include that in my designs. Being chosen for this opportunity is such a big achievement and a real confidence boost.”

As well as showing her final collection in the GFW Showroom, DMU student Fanta Shirif will also have her work displayed in the Boutique by Shelter store, after winning the charity’s live activism competition to raise awareness of housing rights.

Fanta drew on her own experiences of social housing, as a result of her family moving to Europe from Africa and eventually settling in England.

Part of Fanta Shirif's collection to be shown in the GFW Showroom

“Our first house in England was very cramped and we were on a long waiting list for something bigger. We had to move three times, which meant moving schools and not being able to make friends. I was always the new kid and never felt like I fit in or had a sense of belonging,” said the 21-year-old.

Combining family photos with collages of housing and powerful poetry, Fanta created impactful T-shirt designs to win the competition.

She said: “I’m so happy to have won because I feel like I’ve given people of colour a voice on social housing. To have a whole team like my work is really amazing and it tells me that people are listening and want to see perspectives that are different to what’s shown in the mainstream.”

Posted on Thursday 10th June 2021

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