Ahead of this year’s Royal College of Art fashion show, taking place on Thursday 14 June, Something Curated caught up with the school’s Head of Fashion, Zowie Broach, and some of this year’s graduates to discuss their plans. The show, titled A walk without a cat, is set to be a radical parade hosted at 180 The Strand, interwoven with talks, food, dance, movement, and installations — we found out more.

“Mundanity, banality, Dada. An attempt at creating a deeply desirable hyperreality that derives from my own surroundings. A world that emerges from observing, catching and translating the everyday. Triviality, mundanity, ephemera. A 21st century Dada.” — Lenny Murr, MA Fashion Menswear

Something Curated: What inspired the concept for this year’s RCA Fashion Show?

Zowie Broach: The ideas in the show all began with a project titled ‘Mirror Mirror’ that the students presented back in October 2017. At that point, they all discussed their visual design community and they could see an immersive experience was evident, and they asked of themselves to be less timid, more confident, and more true to themselves. It is now seventy years since the Fashion programme began at the RCA so with insistence we have a great responsibility to ask the questions outside of the industry, and that perspective means that the Masters students must explore, examine and innovate new systems that offer potential new ways to communicate, cut, make, design — building new narratives that hover about obsessions, rites, rituals, emotions and the new challenge of all of these from their eyes, and cultural position associated to their own space and time. It is our responsibility as a school that these voices are heard and to be as brave as we ask them to be.

SC: What do you hope to achieve with this means of presentation, as oppose to a traditional catwalk?

ZB: Offer something that creates a ‘punctum’*, an imposition, a revolt, a beautiful failure, an ugly success, a potential ask of the guest to view what they may know in new ways. *Camera Lucida, R. Barthes, 1981 English translation.

“The link between our brain and our emotive system has caused a strong and thought-provoking response within my work. My collection is a study of emotional vulnerability through the analysis of gestures framed within intimate fragments of reality. I want my clothes to feel like a fragile memory of a moment you want to treasure.” — Alice Firman, MA Fashion Womenswear

SC: What are some of the key matters and themes that this year’s graduates have explored in their work? 

ZB: Creating new dialogue and discovery, to where we can improve our understanding of various levels within the meat, leather and accessories business is deeply inspiring, challenging our perspective, our values, our choices and our luxuries. Considering intense levels through tailoring to scientific detail, the requirements we need to live off the planet widens out to a macro scale, and pulls us back to the relationships we have with our earth.

Sexuality is on-going as this is changing and dynamically revealing new states of being; so this is addressed through various works, some deeply subtle, as we watch nuanced forms of future humans move gently forward and some erotically charged. Other work wanders through wells of sound, body parts sweat crystallised to examine the beauty and the science of each of us, extraordinary machines to make new materialised silhouettes hang heavy in steel and wool, un sewn coded processes make new dresses, and fashion a bounds through it all.

“My project proposes a new system for the designer/consumer to create and interact with clothing over a lifetime. In a world where everything is instantly available, there is only one true luxury – knowing what you want and making it yourself.” — John-Paul Trang, MA Fashion Menswear

SC: Are there any particular issues at present facing the fashion industry that you think young designers, including this year’s graduates, need to address?

ZB: Until three areas are fully researched, examined and answers are developed with freedom, to leap to the far future as well as incrementally effect the near future, we are stuck — material, make, identity. Only our phones and trainers seem to hover in relevance to new material, what about bio as a format to drive new aesthetics and values in how we touch, connect, wear and live? Manufacturing is still beholden to mass, to create profit and so this will always disintegrate the designer and the design process as a whole.

Fashion has a low profit business model due to numbers and error and experimentation, size, scale, body, location and so how do we look to change this to offer new landscapes, better values and where new types of business can grow and develop into future companies over watching waves of designers slowly close down or move to positions in the older fashion houses. And now as we look to a future, our identity is being numbered and owned – that zero and one data grab. Augmentation, AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) and those digital spaces need to be investigated, designed and opened out by the fashion designers of today.

“Growing up with toxic fashion and beauty media representations of the female body in the late ‘90s/2000s has made me hyper aware of the lack of space for the body in the fashion industry. I aim to make space for the body within the system that is supposed to clothe it.” — Sinéad O’dwyer, MA Fashion Womenswear (Photo: Ottilie Landmark)


Interview by Keshav Anand | Feature image: Lenny Murr (All images courtesy RCA)

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