New exhibition and book featuring illustrator Richard Gray

Richard Gray, celebrated fashion illustrator and tutor on the BA (Hons) Fashion Design course has his work in a new exhibition in London this month to coincide with a book highlighting his work and menswear illustration.

Written by Richard Kilroy, Menswear Illustration, is published by Thames and Hudson, and available from 23rd February. It features a chapter on Richard Gray’s menswear illustration work. 

Richard Gray has collaborated with some of Fashion’s biggest names including Alexander McQueen, Agent Provocateur and Givenchy as well as stars such as Kylie Minogue and Britney Spears. He has illustrated the couture shows for The Observer and The Independent and his work has been used, amongst others, by a host of Vogue titles, V Magazine and Madame Figaro.

The book launches during London Fashion Week and to celebrate, Paul Smith is hosting an exhibition of original drawings from the book celebrating the modern man and his style featuring the most respected illustrators working in the fashion industry today, in his Mayfair store.

Menswear Illustration is published by Thames & Hudson on February 23 and costs £19.95.

Drawings: Men & Style is on display at Paul Smith, No. 9 Albemarle Street, London W1S 4BL from February 16 - March 6.

Posted on February 23, 2015 .

Claire Barrow shows at London Fashion Week

i-D Magazine
Titled High Flyers, she set her models free with flimsy bandeaux's and loose slacks blowing in the breeze from the wind machines aimed at them. Standing on grey blocks, Claire's vision was to create a space in between the corporate world and the free one. Her trademark, gothic illustrations that we first saw when she presented with Fashion East over two years ago still carried through at her first presentation with NEWGEN, with distorted faces, painted fairies and nightmarish monsters screen-printed onto all-natural fabrics including silk, cotton, leather and wool. Office workers - it's time to quit your job, buy a ticket, see the world and fall in love!

"We're growing. It's getting better, I've learned to trust my instincts more," said the designer at this morning's presentation - though so busy chatting she had hardly got round to taking any photos of her handiwork herself, a collection called "High Flyers". "It's about empowering women," she said. "The corporate world is creeping into the creative world of London." And so she was out to rectify this and give these women their sense of fun and freedom. She teamed those leathers she started out with (now screen-printed, not painted) with silky and floaty bandeau tops and dresses and pyjama trousers. 

The standout item was a maroon strapless jumpsuit. Elasticated at the top and bearing some alarmed and dismayed looking faces, it was shapeless and ballooned everywhere with a swirling palette of black, white, red and blue. When worn, it was more like a working, moving, breathing canvas for the illustrations which featured so heavily throughout.

Posted on February 23, 2015 .

Mary Benson shows at London Fashion Week

The Leeds-born designer who studied at the University of Westminster is known for her prints and textiles with a fantasy element to them – she amped those up today for a collection that felt like what a Friday night going out should, her models perched on lights and with plenty of on-the-town attitude. Vinyl embellishments and plenty of make-believe motifs for embroidery and beading work, it was a magpie’s raving dream.

Mary Benson, the third designer featured tonight, was the outlier. Like Marler's, her printed-on looks traded in disarray, but to ends that were punkishly glam. Benson's signature is her stained glass-style print technique, which she deployed in intriguing graphic and figurative ways. Her collection was less immediately distinctive than that of the other two designers with whom she shared this season's Fashion East stage, but it showed a lot of promise, especially from a commercial point of view. Lulu Kennedy knows what she's doing: These are all talents to watch.

For AW15, designer Mary Benson wanted to create her “own surrealist world.” Models lounged around on neon signs in glitter platform heels (created in collaboration with the iconic Terry de Havilland), colourful S&M-esque collars and holographic appliqués. Inspired by the gender-bending sex appeal of 70s icons like T-Rex’s Mark Bolan (“so obsessed!”) Benson chose to invite a few male models to work the womenswear looks. “I wanted them to look like guys and be sexy,” she explained – "but it’s very fruity as they’re in sparkly flares!”


Posted on February 23, 2015 .

Westminster alumni Mary Benson to show at London Fashion Week

Womenswear designer Mary Benson, who graduated from Westminster last year is set to show at London Fashion Week in February after being selected to be part of Fashion East by a panel of fashion insiders. 

Mary follows in a succession of recent Westminster graduates who have been part of Fashion East and show at LFW. They have included Ashley Williams, Claire Barrow, Louise Alsop and Liam Hodges.

Leeds-born Mary Benson is a London based womenswear designer. Following a stint at Leeds Art College, she graduated from the University of Westminster’s Fashion Design BA in 2014 with a collection influenced by 70s album cover art and ultimate icon Kate Bush. Mary’s signature prints are influenced by stained glass, Pre-Raphaelite and Art Nouveau motifs, and translated into ethereal imagery. Her collections heavily feature ladylike silhouettes with full skirts, bell sleeves and romantic dresses. AW15 is her on-schedule London Fashion Week debut.

Fashion East Founder & Director Lulu Kennedy MBE: “I’m excited that we're accommodating our two brilliant newcomers with presentations that can really draw guests into their world. We’ll also be showing Ed’s second collection in an intimate salon show - all under one roof at the incredible ICA, one of my favourite places in London! “ 

In addition to London Fashion Week showcasing, designers also receive financial sponsorship, ongoing business mentoring and a place in a top international sales showroom in Paris. 

This year marks 12 years of headline support from Topshop, the single biggest supporter of young talent in the industry

Posted on February 5, 2015 .

Influential fashion educators: Westminster’s Andrew Groves

Interview by Jorinde Croese  


Andrew Groves has done the bad boy boogie: from secretly printing a hundred Playboy t-shirts in CSM’s old print room, to staging controversial fashion shows with theatrics as daring as McQueen’s (he was his right hand for a while). Does anybody remember SS99’s ‘cocaine nights’? Andrew has been the University of Westminster’s Fashion Course Director for the past 11 years, and is now ready to give us the Louise rant about young designers wanting to do MA’s or join conglomerates, and opens up about shock value and getting an audience to ‘think’. 

At Westminster, they don’t have pathways within Fashion Design. No menswear, womenswear, sportswear, or print. A student is pretty much free to do whatever he wants to do, and only narrows down his choices during the final year. Why? According to Andrew, “If you’re a good designer, you should be able to design menswear, womenswear and accessories. Good research is good research. Good design development is good design development. The point when you’re turning that into a product is where you think, ‘actually, this is more menswear’. So they can specialise.”

Continue reading at 1GRANARY.COM

Posted on January 26, 2015 .

Ashley Williams and Claire Barrow awarded NEWGEN sponsorship

Westminster Alumni Ashley Williams and Claire Barrow will receive sponsorship from NEWGEN this season, Ashley will receive runway sponsorship whilst Claire will receive presentation sponsorship.

"NEWGEN produces the stars of London Fashion Week - the phenomenal progress of Marques Almeida in six seasons of support is proof of that," Sarah Mower -  BFC Ambassador for Emerging Talent - said. "Following in their footsteps is a whole new slew of discoveries whose sparky originality and careful entrepreneurialism have won them the praise of the NEWGEN committee and Topshop's invaluable sponsorship.

We think the quality, colour and sheer desirability of the clothes audiences will be seeing from 1205, Ashley Williams, Claire Barrow, Danielle Romeril, Faustine Steinmetz and Ryan Lo will step up yet another rung this season."

Previous NEWGEN receipients include Alexander McQueen, Christopher Kane, Erdem, Jonathan Saunders, JW Anderson, Mary Katrantzou, Nicholas Kirkwood, Roksanda Ilincic and Simone Rocha.

Posted on December 16, 2014 .

Louise Alsop shows at London Fashion Week

Louise Alsop who graduated from the BA (Honours) Fashion Design course at Westminster in 2013 showed for the second time as part of the Fashion East show last week at London Fashion Week. 

i-D magazine said:

“In a uniform of branded slip and shredded dresses and painted oversized tees, Louise Alsop’s sweet skater girls rocked our world. Tiny sketched skull logos were printed on mini dresses, layered with dreamy delicate organza, topped off with a dose of 90s nostalgia. Turn up the volume and paint it black, white and yellow.”

Whilst said: 

 Alsop's use of delicate thread to create dresses with a webbed or shredded effect brought a delicacy to her grunge aesthetic. One spaghetti-strap black slipdress had cobweb-like matted yellow strings dripping down the body. "They're kind of more beautiful when they just tangle," Alsop said. The effect was haunting. Other standout elements included an Abstract Expressionism-inspired print, which was splashed on an A-line skirt, a bra top, and a little strapless frock, as well as frayed, layered looks hand-screened with hazy streaks of black, white, and acid yellow. 

Meanwhile Vogue said: 

Tailoring seen through a Nineties prism was the vibe here, even the belly chain made a comeback. Long skater shorts and halter neck dresses got a rework with skull prints and fishnet fabrics. Matted dreads and kohl black eyes completed the trip back in time.


Posted on September 22, 2014 .

Ashley Williams solo debut show at London Fashion Week

Westminster alumni Ashley Williams showed her latest runway collection at LFW last week to an audience that included Alexa Cheung, Pixie Geldof and Daisy Lowe.

Spring Summer 2015 marked the hotly anticipated debut solo show from Ashley Williams since emerging as the runaway success of Fashion East. Her unique vision for collaging and reworking references from throughout the 20th Century and weaving contemporary visual narratives with a nod to the past defines and defies trends with effortless wit and charm. 

This season Ashley Williams was invited to become a part of the Swarovski Collective, established to support emerging fashion talent in exploring the creative boundaries of crystal use and craftsmanship. 
Ashley Williams launches her debut footwear line in collaboration with cult British brand Red or Dead marking its return to London Fashion Week after a decade - a five piece capsule range titled Making Movies, featuring monochrome sling back kitten heels and transparent vinyl court shoes set for launch in February 2015.

The Independent said “Ashley Williams is a fresh fashion talent who shows that London is in no danger of losing its cool crown.”

Whilst Vogue said “with Alexa and Pixie Geldof front row cheering Williams on, it was a fun collection to kick-start the beginnings of her solo journey.”

Whilst i-D said “we <3 ‘No Hassle’ scrawled across the models breasts and the ass-kicking doodles. This girl just wants to have fun."

Posted on September 22, 2014 .

Louise Alsop in new Fashion East line-up for S/S 2015

Leading designer support scheme Fashion East returns to London Fashion Week  in September 2014 with a fresh new line-up of young talents. SS15 will see next big thing Edward Marler debut alongside the anticipated return of AW14 break-outs Helen Lawrence and Louise Alsop in a group catwalk show.

The trio have been selected by the Fashion East prestigious panel to receive catwalk sponsorship, financial bursaries, Paris sales showroom support and ongoing business mentoring. 

Brit Louise Alsop launched her eponymous line at Fashion East’s AW14 show at the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. The University of Westminster graduate’s striking collection played with typically tomboy shapes - boxy tees, panelled sweatshirts and below-knee shorts - layered with sheer chiffon and raw hems. Hand-scrawled ‘hopeless’ and ‘loveless’ motifs added a romanticism. And a white column dress in velvet and chiffon injected a surprisingly ethereal touch to her tough girls. Winning over leading retailers with her debut, AW14 will be available from Joyce (Hong Kong), H Lorenzo (Los Angeles) and Primitive (London) this summer. Louise Alsop’s very modern muse is a girl you want to be friends with! 

Fashion East has an inimitable track record for nurturing young brands – alumni of the womenswear scheme includes: Ashley Williams, Ryan Lo, Claire Barrow, Marques’Almeida, Simone Rocha, Meadham Kirchhoff, House of Holland, Jonathan Saunders, Roksanda Ilincic, Marios Schwab, Richard Nicoll, Louise Gray, Nasir Mazhar and Gareth Pugh.

Posted on July 23, 2014 .