Industry experts reward DMU talent at Graduate Fashion Week

Pioneering knitwear and a portfolio inspired by family heritage have earned prestigious prizes for De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) students at Graduate Fashion Week (GFW).

Industry experts rewarded work by three final-year students during GFW – an international springboard for graduates which bridges the gap between education and employment.

Modular knitwear by Kate McElduff 

A fully modular knitwear outfit by Fashion Design student Kate McElduff won the Shelter Fashion for Social Change Award. Inspired by the principles of camping, Kate’s concept can be scaled up to provide multiple clothing options for people in need.

The 20-year-old from Wolverhampton said: “I came up with my idea by looking at camping and how everything is flat-packed and easy to transport. In a similar way, you can create multiple outfits from my one design, which is made up of different pieces.

“I sewed everything by hand and although it was modelled by a woman, the design is unisex because I don’t believe you can put a gender on homelessness or becoming a refugee.”

Kate also had the chance to showcase a different outfit as part of DMU’s catwalk at GFW. It’s inspired by some people’s need to understand the world through touch, featuring very textural knits that are attractive to the senses.

“It felt overwhelming to win an award and the whole GFW experience was really great,” she said. “Being there in person, interacting with all the other students and making industry connections was so inspiring.”

Estelle Henry's Jamaican heritage celebrated through her work

Celebrating her Jamaican heritage earned Fashion Communication and Styling student Estelle Henry the Styling and Creative Direction Award.

Estelle’s portfolio – featuring a hardback publication, video with an original soundscape and sketchbook - presents her grandmother’s migration to the UK in 1962 through her teachings and vibrant culture, including traditions, style, religion and music.

Her work was also named a runner-up in the FACE Excellence Prize, which amplifies Black, Brown and minoratised creativity, recognising its unique contribution to style, culture, fashion and society.

“I value my family history and lived experiences, so I wanted to evoke feelings of nostalgia to create an understanding that our history lives within us and it is still important in our lives,” said the 21-year-old from Oxford.

“I feel like winning is still sinking in, but it was great to be given the chance to present my work to industry and even better that they understood and appreciated it.”

Estelle was invited to showcase her winning work at GFW’s diversity and inclusion breakfast event, during which she networked with professionals and talked to school children.

Playful menswear designs by Izzy Calver 

She was also one of 10 DMU students selected for GFW’s Talent of Tomorrow campaign. Working as an art director, her role included helping to pair locations with outfits, making decisions on which outfits to shoot together and directing models.

For her stand-out knitted menswear collection, Fashion Design student Izzy Calver was named the winner of DMU’s GFW catwalk by industry experts and as ‘one to watch’ by The Guardian. Inspired by her favourite childhood arcade, her designs feature floor-length cardigans and interwoven scarves.

The 22-year-old from Essex said: “My goal was for my collection to encourage men to be more adventurous with their fashion choices, and to be recognised for that has given me an overwhelming sense of achievement and the confidence to keep going.

“My time at DMU has been amazing. The Vijay Patel Building is such a happy and inspiring place, with access to lots of different workshops that can help you turn your ideas into reality. I’ve loved living in Leicester too – it’s small enough to feel nice and safe, yet big enough to be exciting.

Posted on Tuesday 12th July 2022

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