Chesterfield College students show a passion for fashion

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Budding fashion designers have drawn inspiration from African tribes, sportsmen, rainforests and insects for their catwalk collection.

True models of invention, the students of Chesterfield College will showcase their imaginative creations on the runway next week.

Students at Chesterfield College busy working on their designs ahead of their fashion show, pictured is Penny Black modelling her design

Students at Chesterfield College busy working on their designs ahead of their fashion show, pictured is Penny Black modelling her design

Their passion for fashion and concern for the environment shines in eye-catching clothes worthy of gracing any upmarket boutique.

Cutting-edge outfits made out of leatherette, linen and neoprene have been created without costing the earth in individual spends ranging from £30 to £300.

Curtains bought in a charity shop, fabric scraps and roll ends have materialised into April Spence’s collection which reflects Africa’s vibrancy. She said: “I chose to use sustainable fabrics. I love the culture in Africa which is inspiring, they use colour and texture to express themselves.”

April researched a set of tribes in Ethiopia as the starting point for her collection of trousers, a jacket, a crop top and a neckpiece, the latter created out of bottle caps.

She is aiming to to set up her own couture business after leaving college and would eventually like to put something back into the community which has inspired her.

April, 19, of Mansfield was diagnosed with chronic fatigue four years ago after performing in dance shows and competitions all over the country. She said: “It had a huge impact and pushed me into the fashion industry. I stopped dancing and have to have a lot of assistance with basic things like making my dinner because I can’t stand that long. My disability doesn’t get me down any more - I throw myself into other things.”

Sportswear inspired by skeletons will be showcased on the catwalk, courtesy of its designer Matthew Cooper, 17, of Pilsley.

He said: “When I started the project, I stumbled across my old GCSE art folder and for the still life project I did skulls which I remember loving doing so I took drawings from that and incorporated it.

“I looked at quite a few brands to get an idea of colour palette and shape and I looked at Nineties’ sportswear and some Fifties baseball uniforms.”

Matthew is the only male among the 25 students in the second year of the BTec extended diploma level 3. He said: “It doesn’t phase me, I tend to get on better with girls.” He plans to stay on at Chesterfield College to do an art foundation course.

Billie-Rae Williamson has chosen distortion as the theme for her collection. Inspired by the corsets and bustles of the 18th century, her monochrome outfits feature white in the middle with black either side to give a silhouette effect which flatters the waist and accentuates the hips.

She said: “I really love corsetry and waist-training - I find the desire to have a tiny waist very interesting.”

Her extensive research into outfits of yesteryear included looking at x-rays which showed how corsets distorted rib cages.

She learned about the ultimate fashion victims who paid with their lives when a woman’s crinoline knocked over a church candle and other crinoline-wearing worshippers were unable to move in the aisle because of their voluminous dresses.

Billie-Rae, who is 19 and lives in Hasland, has been offered a conditional place to study fashion design at Birmingham City University.

Shannon McGowan, 19, of Hackenthorpe, is also heading off to Birmingham City University to study fashion design after being offered an unconditional place. She said: “When I heard, I cried as I never thought I’d be able to get into university.”

Her outfits have been inspired by the rainforest. “It has so many different elements,” she said. “I looked at the eco-system and at the scales of anacondas. I looked at the clothes worn by the first explorers and incorporated big safari pockets on my joggers. My creations have been inspired by Balmain’s collection in 2014 - it is my favourite collection in the world.”

Moths set Penny Black’s imagination alight for her collection of edgy daywear. She said: “I like the colours of moths, the different textures and the fact that some are furry.”

Her collection includes a leatherette jacket with shaved faux fur sleeves and knitted collar, a skirt and a pair of trousers.

Penny, 19, of Derby, comes from a creative family. Her mother was a textile designer and her grandmother a lingerie designer. She will be furthering her studies in contour fashion, which includes lingerie, swimwear and sportswear design, at De Montfort University in Leicester.

The students’ fashion show is at the college on Wednesday, June 15, at 7pm with a matinee for schools at 2pm. For tickets, call 01246 500500 ext. 1685 or email: reception@chesterfield.ac.uk.