An innovative design by a De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) student is being showcased next to some of the biggest names in fashion at an exhibition exploring the changing role of women in the First World War.
Fashion Design student Chrysti Washington, who graduates in July, is one of just 24 students across the UK exhibiting at Fashion & Freedom alongside leading female fashion designers including Vivienne Westwood, Roksanda and Sadie Williams.
The 20-year-old from Birmingham said: “Being chosen was unexpected but it felt really good. I wasn’t going to enter at first and then I convinced myself I didn’t stand a chance, so finding out I was selected came as a complete shock.
“Luckily, I had a really outstanding team of tutors, technicians, friends and family who supported me during the competition, which was such a relief during a very enjoyable yet challenging week.”
Students were asked to reflect on one of the most radical changes of the era – the fact that one million women went to work for the first time in munitions factories, driving ambulances and ‘manning’ the London Underground – and how it changed fashion forever.
Incorporating latex and ruffles, Chrysti’s elaborate bodysuit reflects the new workwear women donned with a nod to the Elizabethan fashion trends which were popular leading up to the war.
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She said: “My work is influenced by people and how despite our differences we are all the same in one sense.
“Using latex like a second skin is as a metaphor for women shedding oppression, breaking free and standing up for what they believe in. I also incorporated some denim in my design to reflect the protective overalls women wore in the factories.
“Going down to London to get my garment photographed was a really enjoyable experience. I learnt so much about how a studio is run and how the photographer and make-up artist work together. It was just incredible to see all that hard work and effort finally coming together.”
Chrysti worked with model Sian Garnett, stylist Alex Petsetakis, make-up artist Martina Lattanzi, hair stylist Ranelle Chapman and photographers Luke & Nik
Chrysti is no stranger to success, making the finals of a Harvey Nichols dress competition and being selected to design a hat for the Aegon tennis championships during her college years.
She is now working on a six-outfit collection, hoping it will be chosen for Graduate Fashion Week (GFW), one of the world’s most important sources of new talent for the global design industry.
“I’m developing my latex theme with an all-nude collection, but I want to explore different types of nude to reflect people’s wide range of skin tones,” she said.
“Only 18 final-year students will be chosen by our tutors for GFW. It would be an amazing experience to be picked and to showcase my work to a wide range of industry professionals. It would also be a huge accomplishment for my final year of studies.”
Darrell Vydelingum, Creative Director of Freedom & Fashion, said: “It was a joy to have Chrysti participate in the exhibition. She was chosen because of her brief and presentation, which resulted in her creating an incredible and powerful piece.
“Our exhibition is about bringing established and emerging designers together with students and giving them an equal platform to showcase their work.”
Co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW - the UK's arts programme marking the First World War centenary - and Manchester Art Gallery, the Fashion & Freedom exhibition runs until 8 April at The Civic, Barnsley.
Posted on Monday 27th March 2017