Céline designer and walking fashion plate Phoebe Philo returned to Central Saint Martins last night, the school where she studied, to hand out a prize to one of this year's crop of graduates.
The end-of-year BA show featured the work of 40 students across womens- and menswear, knitwear and print, and showcased some of the best in young British design talent. Previous years have seen graduates go straight from this show to working in prestigious design houses, dressing celebrities and even setting up labels of their own.
Mao Usami took the first prize for her outré and witty collection of sports jerseys wrapped and layered into cartoonish volumes and proportions, incorporating bright yellow plaids, trailing gym socks and bags emblazoned with the word 'unisexy'. In second place came Narae Park whose collection was largely made from a plastic weft fabric and whose models crunched down the catwalk in shoes soled with crumpled plastic bottles - a comment perhaps on recycling and eco-fashion. The third winner was Giacomo Cavallari, whose angular and planate menswear banded with neoprene and ciré caught the judges' attention.
'There's some fantastic technical work on show tonight,' said designer Giles Deacon, also on-hand to give prizes to the students. 'In my day, you got away with murder.'
There was evidence both of the creativity for which the school is internationally famed and the necessary commercial sense for those entering the industry at such a tough time - it came through in an attention to detail, and to accessories, in particular. Samuel Yang's sneakers with LED soles were a case in point, as were Cassandra Verity Green's bags, constructed from fishbowls complete with water and aquatic inhabitants. Lois Blamire combined style and sell-ability in her collection of blush calico pieces and miniature iPhone carriers that were crisscrossed with a logo of her name in large letters. Logo-mania like this from big brands can be laughable, but from graduates it's laudable, not only in its youthful bombast, but also for the canny first steps toward building a brand from scratch.
Yesterday evening's was another strong outing for graduate season 2013, which continues on Thursday with the Royal College of Art's MA show.