Competitions and Fashion Projects

The students may have handed in their assessment work but that doesn’t mean that designing and ‘fashioning’ has stopped for the WSA Fashion Design family.

We have just received the greatest number of entries from our students for the annual British Fashion Council Fashion Design competition linked with Burberry. And, considering the current climate, we are very please to say that the quality has been very high. We continue to be so profoundly proud of our students and how they having taken on the changing environment with the perseverance necessary for a future in the Fashion industry.

We have loved being able to support them through the new online classroom we have in place through Microsoft Teams and can’t wait to see more of their competition and summer fashion work through our Teams’ ‘chats’ and posted on the students’ personal fashion Instagram accounts.

Well done everyone!

‘Fashioned Lives’ by Dr. Lyanne Holcombe, Lecturer in Critical Studies for Fashion Design

Lyanne’s research reflects historical and contemporary fashion design, including a focus on style and photography, and the processes of craft in the context of printed textiles production and oral history in relation to the study of objects and interiors. Part of this involves the teaching and study of fashioned lives, in the past and at present. Printed media and photography inspire me, and how this reflects modern identities in the city, a kind of street style and formation of the feminine over the years and weaved into our cultural fabric in time and space.

Lyanne’s recent publication entitled Space, Efficiency and Service: Luxury and Femininity in the Establishments of J. Lyons & Co (1895-1935) in the academic journal Luxury: History, Culture and Consumption (Taylor & Francis, 2020) explores how young women expressed themselves in the early twentieth century, as fashionable employment emerged in the West End of London. The role of the modern waitress gave a sense of excitement and wonder for those who worked as Nippies in the famous Lyons Corner Houses and Hotels. Such glamourizing of these everyday roles was pronounced in the Hollywood movies of the time. As modernity represented the jazz age and the influence of a leisure culture, to be employed by J. Lyons & Co meant that women gained independence and the affordability of a stylish lifestyle, that was previously unobtainable to the working class girl. 

The modern young women whom Lyons employed personified an image of space, efficiency and service. Girls who were neatly dressed in an updated version of servant clothing which by the late 1920’s was further glamourized by the addition of a stylized cap and collar. Whilst the space of London urbanized, the number of women employed increased. Such an impact created various new industries that women sought to enjoy.

“By exploring gender in relation to this, I was able to unravel and to explore how styling was a huge part of the image of luxury, in relation to publicity, and how femininity became the central focus for this. As an ongoing project that has spanned many years of PhD research, I enjoyed the rewards of seeing my work on glossy paper and supported by the photographs of the women I’d spent much time exploring.” Dr Lyanne Holcombe

nowhere Creativity Workshop: Find Your Uniqueness

Since the nineties, nowhere’s been working behind the scenes, and at the highest levels, with corporations all over the world. Their creative and diverse team help companies catalyse and animate vision, develop new and exciting strategies and build innovative new brands. They love designing workshops that encourage co-creativity – they helped WSA Fashion Design students explore their uniqueness and in teams, co-create insightful symbols.

Film made by nowhere (before ‘lockdown’ in the UK)

A variety of creative tools were used to draw out insights. A series of postcards helped students amplify their difference and haikus were written then presented to each other to inspire a co-creative symbol. Themes such as ambition, strategy, purpose, brand and story were explored to help broaden their perspective on the fashion industry and tease out some of the things they may wish to do in the future. Working in small teams the students found the experience refreshing and collaborative. They expressed that working in co-creative ways helped to develop brilliant ideas! 

Featuring the Work of Year 2 Menswear Design Student Walter Wu

Walter Wu is a Year 2 menswear designer who likes to investigate the function and construction of historical and modern garments. 

Deconstruction plays a large part within his design process, he questions garment structures and function and finds new ways to reconstruct. Even the way a garment is folded will inspire his design details. 

Walter is currently gaining valuable experience in a fashion company in his home town in China. He has let us know that his own designs are being sampled and how incredibly interesting it has been to take his conceptual designs and commercialise them. Considering the process towards selling his items has been a valuable learning curve.

We are looking forward to Walter returning for his final year, to seeing him further his pattern cutting skills and fulfilling his creative ideas into garments that can be worn by the people he loves.

F-Troupe Live Project

During a time when the whole of the UK and other parts of the world were in an unprecedented lockdown WSA’s Year 2 Fashion Design students took up the challenge to design a clothing and accessory line for designer accessory label F-Troupe.


F-Troupe, best known for its original and off-beat designs, were able to offer WSA Fashion Design students an excellent and well-rounded insight into designing for an established label. When briefed to design a modern eight-outfit collection with accessories, students were also aware that the designs had to connect with F-Troupe’s Japanese stores ‘Curios’ and ‘Jabberwocky’ and celebrity followers such as Lily Allen, Alexa Chung, Pixie Lott and Paloma Faith.

All students were asked to select from the Victorian, Edwardian or 20s eras and focus on relevant films and artists to inspire their designs. Congratulations to the following students whose designs, T-Troupe felt, would sell successfully in their stores.

Cici Lai

Cindy Yao

Hannah Vatcher

Sophie Lloyd

Sylvia Song

Scrub hubs and mask makers

Across University of Southampton staff and students have been working with the global effort to address the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic from creating innovative support technology to developing potential vaccines.

Courtesy of Leesa Miller
Courtesy of Hannah Andrew

Fashion Design staff and students at WSA are also doing their bit by working with local organisations, hospitals and care homes making useful fabric items for the staff to wear and use.

It is interesting to see the range of fabric items needed. For example, helping her cousin who is an NHS matron at Epsom Hospital, Year 1 Student Hannah Andrew is making bags from old bed sheets and pillow cases. These are used as a protective wrap for the uniforms until they are put into the washing machine. Without these fabric bags the uniforms would be in contact with surfaces and the medical staff may take their uniforms home in plastic bags and throw them away. 

Thank you to all staff and students helping the NHS and care teams to do their amazing work. Also, thank you to all students making face coverings to help reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Final Year Fashion Design Work in Progress

Outfit by Noah Hilditch (reclaimed materials and Northern Irish unionist flags), Photography Dave Gibbons

In a fully student-led show Fashion Design and Knitwear students collaborated to present their final year and second year work in progress to an audience at Winchester School of Art in it’s 150th year.

This year saw themes of politics, reusing – reducing, up cycling, handmade, diversity and discrimination being held close to the students hearts.

Outfits by Noah Hilditch (80s Eurovision party)
Outfits by Ashleigh Hillman (handmade stripes with organic cotton and hemp), models Lydia Matthews & Lucy Gadsden
Outfit by Bailey Hutchinson (Hand bleached denim)
Outfit by Yuxin Wei

Year 2 Fashion Design Live Project With Penguin Ventures

In collaboration with Penguin Ventures, Year 2 Fashion Design students were tasked with creating an ethically considered garment and four scarves inspired by Cicely Mary Barker’s exquisite Flower Fairy illustrations. The students delivered a variety of looks that went beyond the expected. 

In this live industry project students presented their ideas to representatives from Penguin Ventures. Sara Glenn, Commercial Curator for Penguin Ventures and Naomi Godden (who is also a knitwear alumnus of WSA) selected pieces to be displayed alongside a large exhibition at Mottisfont Abbey in Hampshire. 

The exhibition at Mottisfont Abbey includes original Cicely Mary Barker Flower Fairy illustrations and Vin Burnham costumes. The whole site has been turned into a Flower Fairy encapsulation. “We wanted to create something where we were giving something back and with sustainability and there is a real interest in fashion in our team. This seemed like a perfect project.” 

Sara Glenn had this to say about the student’s work: 

“The students have been so imaginative and they’ve really thought outside of the box. I can’t wait for this to be added to the display, it’s going to add a different dynamic to what is already there and open people’s eyes to what you can really do with a subject matter and take it on to use it for fashion and design.”

The sustainability aspect shone through the students use of natural dyes and cellulose fibre based fabrics. The focus on ethical thinking even inspired the stories the students created for the Flower Fairies, such as the Flower Fairy visiting the melting ice caps or saving animals. 

There were many interesting concepts for the Flower Fairies. There was an interpretation of the Rose Bay Willow Flower Fairy as a florist. Another example is the Rosehip Flower Fairy as a social media influencer, in which Tina Tian painted her scarves as posts from her Flower Fairy’s Instagram page.

“She enjoys her life and loves to share her life with her followers and the four pictures are her having her afternoon tea in different places like cafes or parks or at home. My garment is inspired by my concept of Wonderland, which is a flower field. The ruffles are to create the flower shape. The jacket is inspired by Marc Chegall and has a man and a woman’s face in the garment.”  

Some of the stories went beyond a profession for the modern-day Flower Fairy as some aspects translated very well today as they did back in the 1920s as shown in Sarah Shurmer’s garment. 

 “The Candytuft Flower Fairy was having an identity crisis and I can relate. So, the concept I created was based around identity and to symbolize that I had used fingerprints in the design.” 

Walter Wu reimagined the Dogwood Flower Fairy as a memory collector. Creating an intricate jumpsuit that utilized woven strips of recycled newspaper as a key textile. He also experimented with using food labels as a textile option. 

“Nobody remembers yesterday’s newspaper, so I wanted to keep it and use it in the garment. The inspiration is from vintage menswear/workwear. You can see the pattern has a curve which can make the worker move easily.” 

Caroline Streat created a blazer inspired by the Robin Pin Cushion Flower Fairy who is described as a ball of flame. Caroline’s interpretation of the Flower Fairy decided to go protesting after a trip to Borneo and seeing the scale deforestation.

“I enjoyed using the natural dyeing processes so I used various things such as turmeric to dye my garment. I visited an exhibition in London ‘Invisible Men’ I started looking at Vivienne Westwood and her prints and current climate change elements.  I used laser etching as a sustainable method of printing onto textiles.”

The work is now on display at Mottisfont Abbey until the 05 January 2020. For more information visit the Mottisfont Abbey website.

Written by Hilary Ip, Year 3 Fashion Marketing with Management

The Petra Börner Talk

The next ‘KNOWLEDGE IS POWER’ guest speaker is London based Swedish artist and illustrator Petra Börner.

Petra explores her practice using a wide range of media, from works on paper or canvas, short films and works in ceramics, but at the heart is a passion for drawing. 

Clients include Aquascutum, Bally, Cacharel, Isetan, Louis Vuitton, Greenpeace, Albert Bonniers, Tiffany & Co, Chanel, Penguin Random, The World of Interiors, Victoria & Albert Museum, Vogue and Harpers Bazaar, Oscars, Carven, Royal Opera, Apple Inc., .

All students are welcome to join us 17.00-18.00, Thursday 28th November, Lecture Theatre A

The Emma Greenhill Talk

The next ‘KNOWLEDGE IS POWER’ guest speaker is Fashion Textiles Designer Emma Greenhill. After the talk and Q&A we will also have the opportunity to examine wonderful examples of her work.

Emma Greenhill has worked for the past twenty years for designers such a Karl Lagerfeld, John Galliano, Hussein Chalayan, Luella and Julien MacDonald. As a In-House PR she was known for her bold thinking and creative solutions which she has translated into her own label, launched in 2014. 

Emma’s scarf designs emanate from “characters and made-up stories that dance in her head”.  She then transfers these stories to paper utilising mixed media, collage and motif. These are then printed onto a variety of luxurious fabrics, which are sold within the UK or are exported as far as Japan. 

All students are welcome to join us 16.00-17.00, Thursday 17th October, Lecture Theatre A