Graduating Class: Heriot-Watt Fashion & Textiles

A look at the highlights from the forthcoming end of year catwalk show featuring work from the students of the Heriot-Watt University’s School of Textiles and Design

Feature by Laura Dunphy | 04 Jun 2013

Forget Parsons or Central Saint Martins. Heriot-Watt University’s School of Textiles and Design (SoTD) is about to introduce Scotland to the next generation of future fashion design talent this June.

The most exciting and versatile showcase of graduate designers from the SoTD will grace the Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh on 15 June as the University’s end of year fashion show and exhibition take place. Visitors can expect to see a sophisticated mix of modern creativity and extreme displays of innovative design talent, which will take Edinburgh by storm later this month.  

With over 130 years of practice, the School of Textiles & Design is the second oldest textile establishment in the world. Each year, the graduate fashion showcase becomes more and more anticipated as we wait to see what creations and designers are next to emerge from the reputable design school. Since joining Heriot-Watt in 1998 within the Galashiels campus, the SoTD has developed a strong reputation as one of the world’s leading textile institutions.

The audience can expect to be enthralled by the strong sense of creative energy as a selection of designs from final year BA Fashion Design for Industry students will be revealed on the runway. These particular students will be showcasing their graduate collections, inspired by a range of visual influences and conceptual ideas such as Miami architecture, reality and fairytales, floodwaters, body builders and Edinburgh's old and new towns. 

These students are bursting out of their quiet base of Galashiels in the Borders, to showcase their extravagant collections at the Dovecot Studios to press, friends, family and fashion fans. Mark Eley of Eley Kishimoto, the world-wide fashion and design company will be directing the SoTD Graduate Fashion Show and exhibition for the fourth consecutive year. Year 4 BA Fashion Design for Industry student Sarah Hill is delighted to be presenting her graduate collection Dystopia: The End is Nigh, inspired by her quirky idea of what we would wear to the end of the world. Hill projected her anxious anticipation in the lead up to the fashion show as Mark Eley made the final decisions on his selection of student designers who would participate. “It’s great to have such an experienced designer involved and able to advise us with our collections," says Hill. "It was a nervous wait to find out who would be taking part and it is great to be selected as there are so many talented designers in the year.”

After an exhausting but thrilling journey, Hill is eager to reach the final stage in the process by displaying her collection in catwalk format. “As the school of textiles and design is such a small campus there is a sense of team spirit… so it’s going to be great to get see everyone's collections finally on the runway after seeing them progress from the very start of the year.”

Accompanying the fashion show at Dovecot Studios will be an exhibition by BA Design for Textiles Year 4 students. This provides graduate students with the opportunity to exhibit their range of fully developed textile collections. BA Design for Textiles students Jill Weir, Jade Milne and Eve Gardiner have each created unique fabrics that will be showcased on the day.

Weir has managed to create her own fascinating weaves using odd yarns such as rubber, plastic and sequins through a variety of weaving and embellishment techniques inspired from The Great Gatsby.  “I have created a fabric collection that embodies Daisy Buchanan, one of the main characters in The Great Gatsby (and one of the most fascinating). The collection illustrates her transition from sweet and innocent to a darker character consumed by money, wealth and social standing,” she tells us. 

Milne has successfully created a range of hand-dyed and screen printed textiles on luxurious silk fabric, inspired by microscopic cells. Particularly focusing on images of salt and sugar photographed through a microscope, Milne has designed clothing utilising the developed textile technique.

Gardiner will be presenting her knitwear collection inspired by muscle and tensile structures. Having recently interned with the well-known British knitwear designer Craig Lawrence, Gardiner has successfully managed to create her own clever approach to knitting through the unexpected use of stitches and materials. “I love being creative with different materials and yarn," she comments. "Developing collections from sketches to the actual Fashion Show has been an amazing process.”

It is undoubtedly clear that the SoTD students have gone to extensive lengths to produce their graduate collections this year. With established names such as Obscure Couture, William Chambers, Judy R Clark and Samantha McEwan (of Isolated Heroes) originating from Heriot-Watt SoTD, it is exciting to discover which of the new talented individuals from the university will soon be making their mark on the Scottish Fashion Industry. Whether you are located in Scotland or further afield, find a way to get yourself through to Edinburgh for this event. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to witness some vibrant new design talent and skill emerging from the Scottish Borders. Grab your tickets now!

Heriot Watt School of Textiles and Design Graduate Fashion Show and Exhibition

15 Jun, 8pm, Dovecot Studios, 10 Infirmary Street, Edinburgh. Ticket price TBC 1500-1600: Matinee of fashion show/press preview of fashion show 1800-2000: Private view of exhibition followed by Fashion Show £7.50 for a seated ticket on the main floor. £5.00 for a balcony (standing) ticket. Tickets from