Norwich students showcase on the catwalk

Fashion degree students from the Norwich University College of the Arts will be showcasing their creations on the catwalk tonight. Emma Harrowing reports.

Norwich used to be a city of fashion. From shoe designers and manufacturers to textiles, clothes and handbags, the city was a hub for the fashion industry.

With Norwich Fashion Week launching for its autumn and winter run in September, the Retail Skills Academy fighting to bridge the link between education and retail, and the city winning the accolade as one of the top ten fashion shopping destinations in the UK, the fashion scene is gradually coming back to our fine city.

Now there is another force determined to put Norwich on the fashion map. When the Norwich University College of the Arts (NUCA) added the BA Hons in Fashion degree to its prospectus last September it opened the door to many aspiring young fashion designers.

Despite only completing part of the first year of the three-year degree, the 28 students will be showcasing their designs at a fashion catwalk show tonight. Life Matters has had a sneak preview of some of the designs that will be coming down the runway and we are impressed by the fashion forward ideas and level of craftsmanship that is already coming through in their work.

'The aim of the fashion degree is to teach the craftsmanship behind fashion,' says Sue Chowles, course leader.

'The skills required in pattern cutting and stitching are paramount to good fashion design.'

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The themes of the fashion show are indicative of current trends – upcycling that deconstructs unwanted clothes and reconstructs them into cutting edge fashion and colour, which is a big fashion look this summer.

The upcycling collection uses clothes donated by Cancer Research UK. The brief was to change people's perceptions about second-hand clothing.

'Through the partnership with Cancer Research UK students were briefed to be experimental and challenge creativity within their work,' says Sue. 'Using key words such as metamorphosis, inside out, upside down and back to front, students were encouraged to take risks, develop technique and produce conceptual and directional fashion.'

Students seem to have grasped the concept well with men's shirts being unpicked and turned into a dress and an old tired skirt being turned sideways to create an edgy skirt that oozes style.

For the colour section of the show the stage looks set to be awash with all the colours of the rainbow with block colour geometric styles, 1950s inspired skater looks and both structured and fluid silhouettes taking to the catwalk.

The show is being sponsored by John Lewis and The Gallery Haircutters who will use L'Oreal products to create show-stopping looks on stage. These collaborations highlight the importance of those already established in the fashion industry to encourage new talent in Norwich.

John Lewis Norwich operations manager Lesley George has been involved with the NUCA fashion degree show since the course launched last September. 'John Lewis Norwich is proud to be sponsoring the fashion show,' says Lesley. 'It's fantastic that the fashion course is now available in Norwich and John Lewis is excited to play its part in supporting the growing creative talent in the city. I have had a sneak preview at some of the amazing pieces that will be showcased on the night and it's evident that we have some very skilful students here in Norwich.

'Norwich is now a top fashion shopping destination and it's great to add the fashion course to the mix; these students could be the next top fashion designers of the future.'

Lesley's comments are echoed by the Life Matters team who cannot wait to see the outfits coming down the catwalk next week.

'There will be three shows taking place on Wednesday,' says Sue. 'One at 2pm for schools and prospective students, one at 4pm for friends and family of the students and staff and a gala show in the evening for invited guests.

'We are not selling tickets this year, but, of course, we will build on this show for the future.'

Don't miss the NUCA fashion show review and photo gallery in your Norwich Evening News tomorrow.