Created: Friday, 6th June, 2014 - 15:35

Graduating students from the School of Fashion at the University of the Creative Arts (UCA) have been showcasing their final collections this week on the catwalks at Graduate Fashion Week 2014.

UCA Rochester and UCA Epsom had their own catwalk shows at the fashion event, which were attended by a range of industry professionals, press and members of the general public.   

Held at its new venue, The Old Truman Brewery in Shoreditch, Graduate Fashion Week provides a platform for final year University students to showcase their work, meet with influential industry professionals and gain valuable experience for the fashion industry.

"Graduate Fashion Week is a fantastic opportunity for the University, the individual courses and the students," said Neil Bottle, Course Leader for BA (Hons) Fashion Textiles: Print at UCA. "For the students, there is nothing like it - there's a real buzz here as well as creative people, students, employers and industry. It's also valuable for us as a University, to make sure what we're doing is valid in terms of making industry connections - for example, I've just spoken to one lady from the industry who wants to come in and run an industry project with textiles students."

UCA Rochester student Suzanne Nicholson, originally from the Shetland Islands and graduating from BA (Hons) Fashion Textiles: Print, showcased her menswear collection that focuses on Shetland traditions, but with a contemporary twist. The collection features knitwear and a kilt that is designed traditionally but digitally printed.

When speaking about her experience at Graduate Fashion Week, Suzanne said: "It's been amazing! I can't believe that I'm showing [my collection on the catwalk] too, so that's an excellent bonus. I'm very excited but nervous at the same time."

Suzanne has been sponsored by The Leather Satchel Company after approaching them to ask if she could put a print on one of their bags, which has been an interest of hers for a little while.

"They replied to me straight away and I've been working with them on a design. The Company gave me a satchel for free and they're going to work with me again in the future which is really great. After graduating, I think I'd like to do a bit of freelance - I'd like to work in fashion but I'm also open to interiors. As long as I'm doing print, as that's what I love doing!

UCA Epsom student Lavinia Cadar is graduating from BA (Hons) Fashion and has showcased her contemporary concertina collection at Graduate Fashion Week. Noted by Wonderland magazine and The Observer as 'One to Watch' for the fashion industry, Lavinia is originally from Romania and is inspired by cultures all over the world. Her collection features structured dresses with strong silhouettes and geometric shapes.

"This isn't the first time for me at Graduate Fashion Week, as I've helped backstage for the final year students in previous years so I'm used to the environment," said Lavinia. "I'm a bit more nervous this year but the catwalk was amazing - I'm happy as it went really well."

Lavinia hopes to set up her own brand in the future and says she has grown as an individual designer during her time at UCA.

"The teaching style at UCA is very good - they've always told me to challenge myself and to look in particular directions but don't say "do this" or "do that". This helped me a lot to grow as an individual designer rather than becoming something that is expected. I'm really happy with it as I really wanted something like that."

As well as the catwalk shows, UCA has exhibited at Graduate Fashion Week each day, with a large space dedicated to showcasing the Fashion students' work which enabled them to meet with potential employers or influencers and also share their experience with potential students. Graduate Fashion Week has its own awards ongoing throughout the week, which a number of UCA students have been shortlisted for. Awards are announced at the end of each day, with an Awards ceremony at the end of the last day.

"Once again I have been truly amazed by the wealth of talent from the students from UCA's School of Fashion at Epsom and Rochester," said Thomass Atkinson, Head of School of Fashion at UCA. "They continue to astound me with their fresh ideas, creativity, innovation and extraordinary talent. Our graduates are the future and life blood of the industry and I am extremely proud of their work and fantastic achievements."

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