ECA Graduate Fashion Show, May 12

Feature by Caroline Hurley | 15 Jun 2006

In another expertly-staged show, Edinburgh College of Art students offered up a variety of concepts, designs, attitudes and approaches to fashion, textiles and performance costume. Once the free vodka was dispensed with, the sculpture court was standing room only as our host, an attractive version of Alan Partridge, bounded onto the catwalk to open the show.

With ranges from second, third, fourth year and post-graduate students, along with a modelling competition running conjunctively, there was unfortunately a lack of coherent structure to the proceedings. At times, this proved distracting as it was not always clear whose work was on show.

From the graduates, there was the high level of skill you would expect and yet the conceptual drive of many collections resulted in good tailoring turned to un-wearable and repetitive results. For example, Oscar Wilde is worthy inspiration yet it was hard to see any of his wit, modernity or social comment in the somewhat frumpy floral dresses of one collection. Anita Barry's sharp and subtle work was the best fit to her theme of classic photographs of women.

The textiles department impressed with some beautiful and mature collections, the material largely left to speak for itself without requiring too much thought or theatrics.

Third year Performance Costume was exceptional, working from 'A Christmas Carol' and the 'His Dark Materials' trilogy, students utilised the opportunity to create stunning, covetous and yet often macabre garments that enlivened the entire show. Throughout the department there was a refreshing diversity of style and subject matter, with Laura Cadden's display of wide-ranging influences yet Scottish signature a particular stand-out.

Other highlights included the 'Morphs' costumes from second year students, a range of bizarre and adorable giant toys for children's' theatre. In terms of fashion, there was little that struck as exciting, practically innovative or groundbreaking and yet there was the occasional moment of real promise. Performance Costume couldn't help but steal the show with imaginative, ethereal and truly compelling pieces exhibiting both inspiration and control.