Degree Show Report: Westminster

Jessica Madden
Bushra Ahmed
Harriet Holling
Shefa Rahman
Hayley Lai

A hop from Baker Street, a skip across Marylebone Road and a scoot down a narrow, industrial entrance that looks suspiciously like a car park and you’re at the entrance to one of the hottest graduate shows in town. Rising up through the ranks, Westminster’s degree show is always one to watch, and Wednesday night’s, complete with mile long queue and glittering front row, was practically sizzling with anticipation.

The room collapsed into darkness, deafening, booming beats blasted from the speakers and the first of 16 collections thundered down the vast white runway. Heavy, austere felts and thick, moss green coats were first up, with round, tinted glasses that Lennon would be proud of and long, hippie hair under knitted beanies. Following suit was Jessica Madden, lightening the load with a dose of Victoriana. Reams of stiff, plasticised ruffles, pleats, petticoats and pearl-toned doily shapes gave a modern feel, with silver sheathes over heads and butter coloured, lace up boots on feet.

Super structured made an appearance with a wine red and glossy black collection from Bushra Ahmed. Enormous, pom pom covered cropped gilets and black, patent Minnie Mouse ear shoulders stretched out against curved, futuristic tailoring. Calf skin, which featured in several of the collections, adorned boots in a deep, blood red hue, and bold, chunky knits added texture.

We went all ethereal and retro with Harriet Holling’s dreamy hippie collection. Billowing parachute dresses swept down the runway in the lightest, sheerest of chiffons, printed with aquas, lilacs, lemons and turquoises. Softly teased, 70’s hair with silver head bands and dreamy, dewy eyes and lips defined the look.

Contrasting with the glamazon girls, a highlight for the menswear was Shefa Rahman’s gritty, grubby, boiler suit clad boys. Mean, moody and dirty faced, the boys wore miner’s lights, goggles and heavy, rubber working boots. With a charcoal colour palette and plenty of leather, latex and black, layered silhouettes, the collection made a dramatic contrast with the bright, cartoonish colours that dominated the rest of the menswear looks. The opposite of clean and preppy, Rahman put back the M in macho.

Finally, for form and technical ability, Hayley Lai’s cubist collection was a standout winner. 3D, sequin encrusted pyramids and exaggerated points, coupled with fragile, cobweb knits and a lilac accent colour, created a powerful, show stopping aesthetic. Beautiful, but tough, and embellished, yet simple, Lai’s take on a much-done trend was exciting and impressive. Westminster’s graduates certainly aren’t afraid of taking risks and showing off what they can do. Every collection teamed with commitment, power and a strong, flowing theme. No duds, flops or missing links in the chain, the looks were accomplished, and inspirational.

Fiona Anderson