Fashion & Freedom: fashion inspired by women in the First World War


Four students from the BA (Hons) Fashion Design course at Westminster will see their designs included in a major new exhibition that opens at Manchester Art Gallery on 13 May.

Second-year students Morgan Davies, William Howell-Jackson, Wendy Leong and Charlotte Malyon each created an outfit inspired by the working on the theme of “Restriction & Release”. William Howell-Jackson’s outfit was chosen as the main image of the exhibition publicity and features an elongated tailored jacket over a net dress.

Fashion & Freedom at Manchester Art Gallery (13 May – 27 November 2016) sees some of today’s leading female fashion designers explore the impact the First World War had on the changing role of women and fashion. Co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW and Manchester Art Gallery, with support from the British Fashion Council, the exhibition will include contemporary pieces by Vivienne Westwood, Roksanda, Holly Fulton, Emilia Wickstead, J JS Lee and Sadie Williams.

The next generation of fashion designers were inspired by the two physical extremes women faced within fashion, from the pre-war tight fitted corsets (Restriction) to the soft free-flowing silhouette post-war (Release). Restriction & Release will also explore the social and political barriers women endured at this time, including fighting for the right to vote. The pieces will be showcased as part of Fashion & Freedom at Manchester Art Gallery.

Course Director Andrew Groves said “So much that happened during the First World War, and its impact on the lives of women still resonates with us today, and this made the project an extremely inspiring project for the students to work on. It's fantastic that four of our students have been chosen to exhibit their responses to this project next to the work of such established British fashion designers in such a wonderful space. 

The onset of war in 1914 changed British society. As men left to fight in Europe, over a million women went to work for the first time. New responsibility gave women new freedom and led to new ways of dressing, as silhouettes and social codes changed.

Fashion & Freedom presents original designs by Holly Fulton, Roksanda, J JS Lee, Vivienne Westwood, Emilia Wickstead and Sadie Williams; new film from SHOWstudio and Luke Snellin, and works by the next generation of fashion talent – all influenced by the new fashions and freedoms worn and won by women in 1914-18.

Get to know Roberta Einer, your new favourite designer

roebrta einer westminster

The following feature appears in the April 2016 issue of NYLON.

Named “one to watch” by the British Fashion Council’s NewGen committee, 23-year-old designer Roberta Einer has an envy-inducing résumé, including internships at Balmain, Mary Katrantzou, Alexander McQueen, and Roksanda. The University of Westminster grad’s in-your-face use of color (comprising a palette packed with sweet bursts of pink and turquoise) and expert combinations of unlikely textiles (think everything from tweed to silk to sequins, with ample appliqués) has put her at the forefront of the global fashion scene. Here, the  Estonian-born up-and-comer dishes on what lights her fire.
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Westminster Alumni announced as Woolmark Prize nomminees

Two of Westminster's BA Fashion design alumni have been announced this week as nominees by Woolmark for the British heat of the International Woolmark Prize - all competing for the title this July. Ashley Williams has been announced as one of the four womenswear contenders while Liam Hodges has been announced as one of the four nominees for Menswear. 

Upon her graduation from Westminster in June 2012, Ashley was hotly tipped as a standout designer. She showed her first collection in February 2013 with the pioneering scheme for emerging talent, Fashion East, where she continued to show for a further two seasons.

Liam takes inspirational direction from a wide range of sources, applying his own twist to the subject matter and makes it his own. Liam uses strong graphic shapes, alongside contrasting colours and playful tailoring to create an effortlessly young look and a trademark signature style, with the stark contrasts adding an almost dystopian quality to his work.

The winners of the British regional awards will be announced in July at an award ceremony at the Australian High Commission in London, joining the winners from 12 territories across the world to compete for the international prize. The winner will be revealed at the same venue in January 2017.

Claire Barrow debuts her first exhibition: Bed, Bath and Beyond

claire barrow painting


In February, the 25-year-old British fashion designer Claire Barrow staged a London Fashion Week presentation called ”The Retro-Spective,” which placed her knitwear and sculptural garments inside a mock museum — complete, even, with captioned plaques and a fake gift shop. It demonstrated that Barrow — who has garnered positive attention since she debuted her line two years ago — has a strong interest in art.

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Pip Paz-Howlett wins BFC scholarship award

Pip Paz-Howlett

The British Fashion Council (BFC) is pleased to announce a new scholarship to support undergraduate students in their final year. 
The BFC is delighted to congratulate Cavan McPherson and Pip Paz-Howlett as the recipients of the BFC Education Foundation BA Scholarship 2016. Both scholarships have been awarded to contribute towards living expenses and to support the costs of creating their final collections. 
Pip specialises in Menswear at the University of Westminster and focuses on print and textiles including silk screen printing and fabric printing. The panel was impressed with his dedication, having started his BTEC at sixteen and teaching himself knitwear.

The funding, from the BFC Education Foundation, is available for students enrolled in their final year of study for a full-time BA (Hons) degree in Fashion. The aim of the scholarship is to promote excellence in design by financially supporting students who have the ability and potential to make an exceptional contribution to the fashion industry.
The BFC Education Foundation is dependent upon the generosity of the companies and individuals funding scholarships; Coach, Marks & Spencer, Mulberry, Dame Natalie Massenet and Eiesha Bharti Pasricha. The project has also been partly supported by HM Government with Employer Ownership funding through Creative Skillset.
Sarah Mower MBE, who is co-president of the BFC Education Pillar with Meribeth Parker, said: ‘Being able to support student talent financially is one of the most important and exciting missions of the British Fashion Council. In the interview process, it is incredibly rewarding to start relationships with creative people with fresh ideas which will form the future. So far, the students selected by the BFC Education Foundation committee have all graduated with First Class degrees, an incredible success rate which has only been made possible by the immense generosity of our donors, to whom we are continually grateful. The great thing for us is that winning this prize isn't just crucial to students being able to afford their studies and to produce top-notch final collections, but it also opens up access for students to be invited to industry seminars and the many programmes about business we run.’

The BFC will continue to develop scholarships for undergraduate design students based on the success of the Pilot in 2015. The five students that were awarded scholarships all graduated with a First Class Honours and have gone onto postgraduate study or employment.