The Winchester School of Art is proud to be one of the UK’s leading art and design institutions and part of the world renowned University of Southampton. An international centre for ideas and innovation, they have a history which spans almost 150 years. Ranked among the top 1% of universities worldwide, the University of Southampton is recognised as a global centre for excellence in research and education. Their reputation, which is reflected in their UK and international league table rankings, is built on a long history of world-changing achievements. 96% of graduates go straight into employment or further study, over 75% of which is graduate level (Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education Survey, 2015/16), now those are some impressive stats.
The Programme for Fashion & Textile Design at Winchester School of Art is alway one that produces talented graduates and alumni – it’s over-subscription reflects that. This year, twenty out of their fifty students were selected to showcase their graduate collections at a show following Graduate Fashion Week, hand picked by a panel consisting of Cozette McCreery, Sibling, Clare Copland, Production Element, Sophia Malig, By Walid, Lisa Burn-Hunter, WSA Knitwear Tutor and Cecilia Langemar MA RCA, Programme Leader Fashion & Textile Design for Winchester School of Art.
“This was my first time on the WSA panel, I didn’t know much about the institute which sounds bad but we can be so lazy when based in central London that we often don’t look beyond what we already know. I was intrigued to see what the students had to offer. The freedom given to them in comparison to other universities is clear. When actually selecting from the 50 students I have to go for my gut reaction. There were quite a few collections that honestly, I loved instantaneously so that was easy. Others I felt had a place because they looked cohesive and a few where the student had obviously had fun with their ideas and offered real show-pieces. You must take into consideration the flow of the final running order and what will make a good show a GREAT one. This sometimes means that the more accomplished, yet quieter collections don’t get to catwalk but having an exciting catwalk creates a buzz for everyone so it’s important to show the really visual looks as an introduction to the overall output of the student’s work”. Cozette McCreery, Sibling.
As far as Fashion design courses in the UK go, there are a few which stand out as amongst the best. One of those is right here in the North East in the form of Northumbria University and amongst the others is Winchester School of Arts. The institute prides itself on producing highly creative, skilled and hands on design graduates suitable for a range of positions within the Fashion Industry upon completion of their degree course.
Each year graduates take up roles in prestigious companies internationally and in the UK. The 2018 show presented pieces from: Sofi Lever; Ning Kang; Abigail Skrentny; Grace Haggerty; Jasmine Lynch; Isabella del Zoppo; Becky Chandler; Lauren Sampson; Ashleigh Cameron; Holly Baxter; Zoe Lyne; Madison Weight; Evie Knott; Rui Cheng; Ezgi Gunay; Jessye Bolton; Hannah Franks; Chiara Bradfield; Yuxin Li and Ruje Aktar to an audience of super cool peeps including myself, who were engaged throughout. It’s easy to forget that these designers are graduates when you’re watching the show. From the production, to the casting and right through to the quality of the design and manufacture of each garment, the standard is as you would expect from London Fashion Week. It’s undoubtable that we’ll see some of these designers showing full collections on the runways of fashion Scout in the coming years.
A further ten students were selected to present one complete mannequin outfit The Vinyl Factory as part of an innovative display of fashion design techniques: Charlotte Oliver; Courtney Wheeler; Yaming Zhang; Elena Hillier; Diva de Sa Menezes; Claudia Friel; Evie Cox; Anna Bateman; Maddy Page and Ellie Biggs made up the cohort.
“The panel select the students based on originality, creativity, professional execution and finish, silhouettes and colour story, level of pattern cutting and construction, ‘catwalkability’ and wow factor and a sense of a fully formed coherent collection. WSA BA Students are very able designers in terms of creative concepts realised to a professional standard in terms of make and finish. Most of our students progress into industry straight away after the BA course into a range of companies and studios, from Alexander McQueen and Victoria Beckham to Asos and Topshop. Some of the fabrications this year have been outstanding from both the Fashion and Knitwear students with some handmade woven leather fabrics, creative hand embroidery and embellishment and some innovative knitted fabrics with stunning yarn combinations”.
Cecilia Langemar MA RCA, Programme Leader Fashion & Textile Design for Winchester School of Art