Fashion students inspired by carnivorous plants, the female form and Japanese islands

Issue date: 02 June 2011

Memories of the sea, dazzling Indian paisley designs and a deserted Japanese island have inspired students from the University of the West of England, who are showing their collections at Bristol Graduate Fashion Show 2011.

The event features a catwalk show of contemporary women's and men's wear and includes knitwear, print and textile design. It takes place at the Royal West of England Academy (RWA) on Friday 3 and Saturday 4 June.

Adrian Grandon, Fashion Design programme leader at UWE says, “This will be an innovative and individual show. The students' inspirations vary from the traditional dress of Poland, India and America, observations of ram's sculls, gorillas and tropical fish, to architecture of the twenties and contemporary New York.

“A selection of their work will represent UWE and Bristol at the Graduate Fashion Week (GFW) in London culminating in a catwalk show with top London models on Monday 6 June at13.00. This annual event to celebrate British fashion talent is a scouting destination for top names in the fashion business.”

The UWE Bristol fashion team have high hopes for this year's cohort. Fashion and Textiles programme leaders Ali Taylor and Tracy Fitzgerald said, “We have won the prestigious Graduate Fashion Week Gold award on two separate occasions. The current graduating students are a particularly strong year with collections that are distinctive and individual, showing an idiosyncratic personality which UWE Bristol is well known for. We hope to win prizes again this year with big names such as Mulberry, Karen Millen, Zandra Rhodes and George at Asda sponsoring the competitions.

“Fashion Textile student Nicola Chisnall has already won the Society of Colourists and Dyers regional award. In 2010, students Amber Hards and Jessica Hart were chosen for the Gala Show and as a result of GFW students were employed by River Island, Karen Millen, Reiss, Toast, John Smedley, Lyle and Scott and Celine.”

Work placements undertaken by some of this year's undergraduates include Anna Sui, Betsey Johnson and Marc Jacobs in New York, Givenchy and Chloe in Paris; Alexander McQueen, Jonathan Saunders, Aitor Thorpe, Richard Nicoll, Matthew Williamson, Jenny Packham, Carolyn Massey, Felder & Felder, Christopher Kane, Kyri, ASOS, i-D, Company Magazine, Fashion 156 and Eskimo PR.

Students showing their work this year include:

Lavina Peswani, who is studying Fashion/Textile Design - she specialises in print design for the fashion industry and her work can be used as interior pieces. She works with vibrant colour palettes, intricate drawings and paintings. She combines these diverse elements to create innovative compositions with a strong personal style.

She says, “My inspiration comes from philosophy. I express the forms in my surroundings, especially nature, in a personal way to convey a message. I am showing three collections and one of these is called Hidden Nature. It combines elements of my Indian heritage mixed with the elements of the sea. I am very passionate about the sea as I grew up near the beach. The texture used and the painting was inspired by this and is then combined by the traditional Indian paisley and a heavy bordered composition. The collection is complex, beautiful, elegant and unique. The colours are inspired by photographic research of an aquarium and a carnivorous plant in Kew Garden.”

Alexandra Nicholson specialises in design and construction for women's wear, investigating innovative textiles including print and fabric manipulation. She is inspired by artists and photographers alike retaining the minimalist elements of work. Her main interest lies in pattern cutting, creating feminine, delicate tailoring with an edge of rawness.

She says, “My collection, Untitled Identity, considers the female as the central focus. Exposing the body in regions in order to provoke and offer an aspect of vulnerability, whilst concealing imperfections beneath layers of considered fabric. The female form inspires the collection, stimulating innovative patterns, which in turn exaggerate the fragility of women, accentuating the strength and sensuality of the body.

“The imagery used is taken from and relates to female bodies, engaging a mixture of techniques including photography, embroidery, laser cutting and print. The outfits are interchangeable, allowing a dynamic collection in relation to the model and market.

The approach developed within the collection includes projecting distorted images onto fabric via photographic methods. This developed the surface design and fabric manipulation, furthering conceptual ideas within textiles. The colours and fabrics throughout are romantic, beautiful and complimenting to the female. Sensuality and sexuality are expressed through the luxury range of materials used.”

Rei Tan was inspired by the abandoned island Gunkanjima, also known as Battleship Island, off the coast of Nagasaki, Japan. She says, “Its concrete buildings sit in silence, wooden banisters slowly rotting, concrete crumbling into fragments, grids of glass windows gradually disappearing. Staircases, levels and windows create grid like images and structure, repeating and repeating.

concrete.shadows is a calm, minimalistic collection with solid neoprene, translucent organdie, stiff silk paper and textured moleskin/ faux suede. It is almost neutral gender with a dark monochrome colour palette. The layering of garments creates space and void between the inner (body) and outer (garment) layers. The laser cutting mimics the lines of shadows and paper pop-ups. The silhouette is influenced by the straight and asymmetrical structure of the buildings. I have an interest in pattern cutting and have an experimental and trial and error approach to working.”


Editor's notes

Friday 3 June
Matinee show - doors open 13.00, catwalk show starts 14.00.
Tickets £5
Evening show - doors open 18.30, catwalk show starts 19.30
Tickets £10

Saturday 4 June
Matinee show - doors open 13.00, catwalk show starts 14.00
Tickets £7
Evening show - doors open 18.30, catwalk show starts 19.30
Tickets £10

The event is open to the public and tickets can be purchased from any UWE Students Union shop or from the Bristol Ticket Shop in the city centre, or visit

The students' work can be viewed online on

Back to top