Style & Then Some

Style & Then Some’s Best of Graduate Fashion Week 2012

Get to know these names now and we promise it won’t be long before they’re climbing up the ranks in the biggest fashion houses or storming London Fashion Week with their own independent labels. We are of course talking about this year’s fresh-faced fashion graduates who tore up Earls Court this week: here’s some of our favourites.

best graduate fashion week 2012 collections best of GFW 2012 style and then some Joanna Pybus university of East London

Joanna Pybus at GFW 2012

Joanna Pybus, University of East London
At Graduate Fashion Week, we like to play a little game when we’re watching the shows. We try to guess who we think each graduate’s favourite fashion designers are. Looking at Joanna Pybus’s collection, we’d plump for Marc Jacobs, Giles Deacon and gone-into-administration-but-not-forgotten Luella Bartley. Why? Because her designs possess the same mix of 1960’s shapes, stripes, ladylike whimsy, and, cartoon eyeball graphics that those three designers also favour. And we mean that as nothing but a compliment. Pybus said she wanted to bring ‘an awkward feeling of humour, absurdity and the bizarre,’ and that she did. But she managed to paint that picture against a backdrop of infinitely wearable jersey tunics, felted wool cocoon dresses and one heck of a Jackie O-worthy pink and red skirt suit.

best graduate fashion week 2012 collections best of GFW 2012 style and then some Helen Butcher university of East London

Helen Butcher at GFW 2012

Helen Butcher, University of East London
Still playing our ‘who’s her favourite designer?’ game, we’d have to go for Mary Katrantzou this time. Helen Butcher’s graphic monochrome motifs, like the faces of skyscrapers rendered straight on to the front of short, sassy silk dresses, brought to mind the Katrantzou’s trompe l’oeuil style. Again, this is a serious compliment, and not a comparison we make lightly. As well as her art deco photoprints (courtesty of artist David Ballinger), Butcher’s other major forte with this collection lay in how she struck a neat balance between the girly (flippy chiffon hems, hints of raspberry pink) and the gamine – boxy cropped jackets and baggy pants. No wonder she cites Coco Chanel as a reference point. A swishy, va-va-voom gown rounded off this consummate collection.
best graduate fashion week 2012 collections best of GFW 2012 style and then some Claire Acton university of central lancashire

Claire Acton, University of Central Lancashire
Perhaps it was purely coincidental, but the pop art references were coming thick and fast as the first half dozen graduates’ collections hit the catwalk at the UCLan show on Sunday. Head and shoulders above the rest was Claire Acton, with her clothes seeming to owe more to hairdressing that they did to fashion. Fabric was cut into three cape-wigs in acid yellow, orange and black, and strewn with oversized hair clips, to frame faces that were printed on the front of tunics, thereby turning models into veritable wig blocks. Those hair clips reappeared in their hundreds, multicoloured and covering the entirety of a skirt and the bottom half of a minidress. For us, this is the perfect kind of graduate collection. It may not be the sort of thing you’d expect to see on anyone without Anna Dello Russo-like levels of fashion courage, but it shows great creativity, not to mention a GSOH. On a day when you’re competing with sometimes 20 other collections at a time it’s hard to stand out, but if you can do that by making people laugh (in a good way – there are always some laughably disastrous grad collections) you’re on to a winner.

best graduate fashion week 2012 collections best of GFW 2012 style and then some Kellie Fountain Ginger Northumbria University

Kellie Fountain at GFW 2012

Kellie Fountain, Northumbria University
Bowing down at the altar of Miu Miu, Kellie Fountain showed a wonderfully wearable collection of autumnal oranges, mustards and blues and adorable plane motifs. If you watched Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom recently and hankered after a 60s dress (as we did), these pieces will sate your appetite for ultra-feminine and playful ensembles. The washed-out rainbow coloured brogues were a delightful finishing touch and as the graduate herself puts it: this is “the true tale of [the character Ginger’s] hidden personality, telling her story through textured print and detail.” Simply swinging.

Natalie O’Hare, University of Salford
Offering a more understated elegance than many of her classmates, Natalie O’Hare’s soft tailoring and colours that wouldn’t look out of place on a Celine or Chloe model were a big hit with the Style & Then Some team. She mixed gold, sequinned tulle, wool, cashmere and silk like a pro but kept things (literally) edgy with geometric shapes. We’ll place our order for the final floor-length coat now please Natalie. You can see her whole collection (amongst others) in the University of Salford finale video above.

Now that Graduate Fashion Week has wrapped up, we’ll update our ‘Best Of’ with more names from the Gala shows. Let us know below which other graduates caught your eye this week.

Catwalk reviews by Katie Wright, Sophie Cha.

All images: Faraz Pourreza-Jorshari. See more at and click the images to enlarge our GFW 2012 gallery.


One comment on “Style & Then Some’s Best of Graduate Fashion Week 2012

  1. Pingback: Street Style | Floral and pastels at Graduate Fashion Week 2012 | Style and Then Some

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