Spotlight: Lauren Eliza

Blurring the lines between fashion and art, Heriot-Watt graduate Lauren Eliza takes gender fluidity as the focal point for her new collection

Feature by Mona Lisa McLean | 27 May 2016

It’s the most exciting time of the year for fashion students – finally all their hard work and stress is coming to an end, culminating into the final shows of the academic year. From degree shows around the country to Graduate Fashion Week, there are plenty of opportunities to scout fresh, young fashion talent. One designer who is due to be attending graduate fashion week caught the eye of photographer Igor Termenon with her collection Crux: Lauren Eliza, who hails from the prestigious Heriot-Watt University.

Situated in the picturesque Scottish borders, Heriot-Watt has long been considered one of the best fashion schools in the country, with unrivalled facilities and an innovative syllabus of textile and fashion programs specifically designed to (in their own words) “match the needs of the global, and increasingly fast-moving textile and fashion design industries.”

Eliza’s work aims to investigate the area of “urban reality; of maturing in a rough, concrete surrounding.” Using her own photography, which she then turned into digital prints, she presents her urban wear purposefully towards unisex. “Materialising from the idea of strange beauty,” she explains, “photography uses the lens as a personal narrative to visualise looking past the harsh and ugly surface of the city, and finding attraction in areas that would be otherwise overlooked.”

Another strong concept investigated by this collection is the idea of gender fluidity. Avoiding the rigidity of what are becoming dated views of gender norms, Eliza's collection aims to be accessible to all spectrums of gender identity, marrying ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ elements to create contemporary garments that are not bound to traditional ideas of gender. She examines personal identity by drawing on “emotive and conceptual stigma to take a documentary-style approach.”

Her urban-appropriate palette of greys and pops of green merge with her vibrant digital prints to create a genuine representation of city life, contrasting urbanisation and slithers of nature. Creating an almost utilitarian aesthetic, Eliza draws from her Glasgow upbringing, citing the influence of “brutalist architecture and chaotic colours to portray a modern interpretation of both masculinity and femininity,” informing her signature urban aesthetic. Striving to not be bound to a single category, she states: “I would neither categorise myself as solely a women’s or menswear designer, more of a creator of things.”

Shoot Credits

Photographer: Igor Termenón –
Hair & Make Up: Shaun Lavender
Models: Vendela Gebbie & Stevie Newall @ Superior

You can see Eliza's work at the Heriot-Watt degree show, 30 May to 2 June. Her portfolio will be on show at Graduate Fashion Week 5-8 June, and on 24 June she will be taking part in the Height of Fashion show at Holyrood House.