RCA Society

RCA Fashion Show 2013

During it's 100 year history the "Royal College of Art" has built a reputation as being the world's foremost post-graduate arts and design university. In the coming month the College once again opens its doors to the public to view its graduating students’ Shows.

The first show of this annual event is the Fashion Show. This year thirty three fashion designers presented their eagerly anticipated final year collections of Menswear, Womenswear, Knitwear and Milinery to a mixed audience of manufacturers, buyers, press and “followers of fashion”. An event where many of these designers experience their last chance to present a personal ‘fashion statement’ before entering the lacquered claws of the commercial clothing market.

The tradition of the RCA Fashion School is to get the show going with a rapid display of project work by their new intake of students. This habit emphasises the predominantly project based, experiential course structure which tends to serve industry’s requirements. Although, arguably, this may be intended to locate future designers into a “real world” it interferes with the liberating freedom to think differently - to search for new solutions...  To further confound the practice at the RCA the Fashion School is now located in the newly named “School of Material”. This very peculiar description enhances an aspect of ‘Fashion’ which has unfortunate connotations that fixes Fashion. The bureaucratic mentality that conjured up such categories are undoubtedly confounding the aspirations of young designers. The work suffers....

So - as ever - the ‘material girls and boys’  individual micro collections of confusion oscillated between the wearably commercial, the stylistically familiar, the structurally experimental and the totally forgettable. Yet some of the visual elements that stayed in mind this year were.... strong black and white abstract motifs reminiscent of 1960s Ungaro, and Bridget Riley “Op art” alongside awkwardly cut antipathetic forms and shapes. There were some intriguing constructions but no sign of any powerful statements which shift fashion and thinking... It would seem that what we wear is just hanging onto the mood of prevailing equivocation that permeates a world in recession. At the RCA, Fashion has become a practice fixated on the material adornment of the elite 1% whose lives are merely to promenade personal wealth and spread vacuous illusions.

It’s a tragedy that “post graduate” fashion students at the RCA are unable to state what needs to be stated about a world torn apart by those who the fashion industry constantly cover up.


Click to see the catwalk 2013


Requiescat in pace RCA Fashion Show 2013

The RCA Fashion Show is a unique phenomenon that exists for two hour each year to an onslaught of deafening music. After that its proposals will be heavily diluted and the practitioners spread through the industry until every vestige of originality has been has been sublimated to the rag trade standard. The exponents are heroes who will never again be allowed to reach this height, they are the suicide bombers of haute couture. This is the only applied art form with a prescribed ceiling, which can only be touched by a graduating student. Each RCA fashion graduate should, on entering the course, be issued with a disclaimer concerning their future cultural wellbeing. They may make a financial success of their lives, but it is nevertheless a slide into conformity.
As an annual spectator I am always bowled over by the exuberate power of the show, but feel it is the greatest pity that the fashion trade absorbs all this creative drive yet moves in such tiny pedestrian increments. In any other cultural discipline this would be the start not the end. The whole show is a spectacular funeral, a brilliant bonfire which leaves the lingering perfume of ash in all our noses. Sadly, I suppose, we have to accept that fashion design is an applied art and consequently practical necessity will always win the day.
I admire the aspiration of the graduates.
Requiescat in pace


Add new comment