Glasgow School of Art Fashion Show 2016

GSA's Fashion & Textiles students present a diverse show on the theme of Geometry

Feature by Fern Logue | 10 Feb 2016

Glasgow School of Art’s burgeoning design talent are set to impress again at the Fashion and Textiles department’s fashion show on 2 & 3 March at The Art School. The annual extravaganza allows second and third year students to showcase new works – with three looks presented as the product of their research. When the students aren’t working away perfecting their designs, they're running the show, holding open model castings and throwing parties to help fund-raising efforts and make it all a huge success.

The students collaborate to produce the show, with all proceeds helping current third years to showcase their graduate collections at New Designers London in 2017. Sophie Chen, Kate Connell, Zac Wood and Kevin Cleary – four students presenting their work this year – gave up some of their precious sewing time ahead of the show to give some insight into what we can expect to see on the runway. This year, students were asked to explore the broad theme of ‘Geometry’ – a simple brief allowing wide-ranging exploration and research which is sure to produce an eclectic mix of pieces. The students really seem to emphasise the potential of taking this inspiration in their own individual direction with a plethora of sources of inspiration and influences.

Meet the students

With Zac Wood describing the inspiration behind her work as ‘Queen Boudicca at a Cocteau Twins gig in 1895’, we are certainly in for a visual treat. Formidable warrior women aside, inspiration has come from all angles (pardon the pun) for the students. Some collections look to the geometric patterns found in everyday forms – Kate Connell’s collection echoes the precise lines of a series of photographs she took of tennis courts, while Kevin Cleary looks to discarded packaging and found objects, an approach which he assures us has been ‘very cost effective’.

Others cite art and architecture as their influences with Sophie Chen seeking inspiration from the Russian Avant-Garde movement Suprematism an artistic expression using geometric forms in a refined colour palette – think Malevich’s Black Square.  Chen describes the development of her ideas: “Initially I created a room exploring space where I developed perspectives and three-dimensional compositions, using geometric shapes and compositions inspired by Lissitzky’s 1923 Proun room.” The process has been developed with Chen making use of embroidery techniques like pleating and appliqué to present her interpretation of the original brief.

Each of the students has a very different design process but Kevin Cleary suggests that the brief is reliant on research in a “personal and very self-led direction.” This idea is echoed by Zac Wood, who describes his approach as being about “narrowing down the pool of research and inspiration until I can come up with something that both fully represents me as a designer and that people besides me will want to wear!” In terms of materials and techniques it seems that a fusion of traditional embroidery techniques, digital technology and unusual or contrasting materials make up the collections. Specialising in embroidered textiles, Kevin Cleary is “focusing on contrasting and fusing materials together,” allowing the use of a “broad range of manipulation and traditional techniques associated with embroidery.” 

For Kate Connell, Adobe has helped in recreating the ‘clean’ precision of the images and lines that inspired her and developing designs which will manipulate traditional sports fabric “to create subtle prints… using heat reactive binders to create embossed fabric,” playing with traditional expectations of materials and prints and posing a challenge to conventional ideas about ‘what print actually is and has the ability to be!”

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What to expect at GSA Fashion Show 2016

The Fashion Show always treats us to an exciting and captivating presentation of unexpected ideas. The fact that the four textile specialisms offered at GSA – print, weave, embroidery and knit – are all represented, putting their own spin on the ‘geometric’ theme highlights the diversity that sets the show apart, a real testament to the talent produced by the department. Zac, Kate, Sophie and Kevin demonstrate this eclecticism by combining their individual areas of expertise with influences ranging from 19th Century art to Dior Couture. Kate Connell’s favoured “boxy, almost unflattering” silhouettes of Comme des Garçons and Issey Miyake, and prints inspired by Bauhaus Art Deco, are sure to present something entirely different from the works of Zac Wood who cites Vivienne Westwood, Christopher Nemeth and the Pre-Raphaelites among her influences. 20th Century Russian Art dominates for Sophie Chen, with nods to Christian Dior and Roksanda Illinic, while for Kevin Cleary, the structural forms of artist Giuseppe Randazzo have been key.

There will be two showings (7 and 9pm) on both 2 & 3 March, with tickets available from TicketScotland, and The Art School Bar and Shop in the Reid Building. If past shows are anything to go by, the students’ designs are sure to offer some perspective of the fascinating process of interpretation and creation as well as probably making you see Geometry in a whole new light. Certainly not to be missed!

2 & 3 March (7pm & 9pm), £7
Tickets can be purchased via Ticketscotland,, or the Art School bar and shop (located in the Reid building).