The Mecca of fashion schools, Central Saint Martins prides itself on nurturing unfettered creativity and has been a fixture on the fashion week schedule since the heydays of McQueen and Galliano. Home to a dynasty of designer alumni, from Christopher Kane and Kim Jones to Grace Wales Bonner and Matty Bovan, Central Saint Martins is a hotbed for new talent and this year reaffirmed the institution’s reputation of excellence with collections that defied convention and drew from diverse cultural reference points.

This season, the show took place in the BFC NewGen showspace, and presented 20 graduating designers from the class of 2023 MA Fashion. Guided by Course Director, Fabio Piras, and a dedicated team of tutors and technicians, over the past 18 months these 20 students have toiled with their final collections to offer something unexpected and exciting.

Here Because rounds up just a few of the highlights…

Yaku Stapleton

Yaku Stapleton, took home the trophy this season with a collection that struck the delicate balance between fashion and costume design. Winning the L'Oréal Professionel Creative Award, judged this year by style maverick Ibrahim Kamara, the Editor-in-Chief Dazed and Art and Image Director Virgil’s Off-White, Yaku's otherworldly creations were inspired by the fantasy, role-player game, RuneScape. Models wielding clubs, swaddled in oversized puffer jackets and gilets stomped the runway, each character drafted on one of Yaku’s family members. Exploring afro-futurism in all its fantastical glory, Yaku’s collection ‘The Impossible Family Reunion in RPG Space’ was masterfully cut and finished with razor-sharp precision; proof that the designer can do both fantasy and reality.

Isabel MacInnes

Isabel MacInnes used her physical and mental differences to create a wholly personal and powerful collection. After receiving spinal surgery, Isabel struggled to stand up right in the studio for more than 30 minutes, which made traditional pattern cutting a lot harder - but she didn’t let this hold her back. The designer cleverly adapted her technique, developing a digitally drafted panel-based system that reduced the need to stand up. The result? A collection of uniquely crafted garments that explored themes of distortion in cut and silhouette. Volume was added in unconventional areas and dimensions and details were blown out of proportion; think oversized coat hanger accessories and saucer-sized buttons.

Ellen Poppy Hill

Each year the MA collections welcome eco-conscious designers; often ones that use upcycling to create their collections. This season, Ellen Poppy Hill steps to the mark, creating a series of whimsical looks fashioned from found garments that the designer has deconstructed and stitched together to create new and exciting forms. Titled, ‘Always Leave A Little As The Weakest Link’, Ellen journeys from adolescence to adulthood, weaving a new narrative through each thread. With hodgepodge buttons, paperclip fastenings and hand embroidery, Ellen adopts nostalgic forms to create something new.

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