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Birmingham City University graduate show had an atmosphere like no other. Soundtracks from Bikini Kill to the Spice Girls, these graduates presented an array of creative and energetic collections which enticed the crowd, excitedly clapping in appreciation.

In a kaleidoscopic print, Jade Gilchrist created an oversized, impeccably crafted asymmetric silk bomber jacket. Black Buffalo platform boots clad the models, as did wooden crowns and long threaded earrings. James Whitehouse took the audience in amazement with his tan prom dress, made from thin rubber with laser cutting detail and cut out rubber rose embellishments. A collection of patent leathers, arm length long leather gloves and translucent black rubber, the contrast from the rubber and furs married the suffocating and the free in the most elegant way.

Shaggy, cobweb cardigans were de rigeur for men by Luke Porter. Silk shirt dresses flew down the catwalk, with a painterly brush stroke print in multiple trippy colours, models bare foot. For a more formal occasion a tangerine jacket or red silk shirt (and shoes) would be wise.

Dean Fallon however, took a more minimal approach to mens’ style with a rolled up sleeve, pocket white t-shirt paired with grey pantaloons shorts. Pockets were boxed, long woollen jumpers were belted and stirrup leggings and trousers were the go to choice.

An inner riot grrrl came to life on the catwalk thanks to Emilie Hale, with Bikini Kill filling the room with Kathleen Hanna’s yells. Two toned denim was the sourced material as were red and black striped, baggy woollen jumpers and cardigans, real ‘Rebel Grrrl’ uniform. Converse (what else?) and tea cosy hats accessorised this thrift inspired look, as did pyjama striped trousers and shirts layered under baby blue cord shirt and shorts twin sets.

A collection fit for hot pink admirers by Lily Stodel. A Spice Girls theme tune (naturally) and a parade of pink foil metallics, furs, watercolour heart and star doodle prints lay ahead. With white Buffalo boots, heart shape pockets and pink puff-ball skirts, it’s a collection thoroughly well constructed and highly recommended.

Natalie Martin created a sequence of looks that were both flattering and flawless. Petite waists were defined in the finest material. With dresses fading from sheer fabric in muddy green and brown into plush velvet, the craftsmanship blending the two materials created a seamless look.

Kaleidoscopic or minimalist, the skills and techniques used by Birmingham’s class of 2012 were outstanding.

– Samantha Goodwin

– Catwalk photography by Paul Harness

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