In terms of fashion, the races tend to conjure images of large hats competing for attention, silk tea dresses, and for some, a pivotal scene from Pretty Woman. But a group of fashion students from the prestigious Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design saw beyond this, and, inspired by a day at the races, have created garments for a one-off exhibition in East London titled 'A Day at the Races'.
The Annexe, part of the renowned Brick Lane Gallery, will host the unique designs from the 13 – 18 June 2012, offering the public the opportunity to see the students’ modern and vibrant take on attire for a day at the races, at this six-day, free-to-view exhibition. Featuring twenty-three designs created by fashion design students specialising in womenswear, the exhibition showcases a range of handmade garments from a futuristic take on a top hat and tails, to traditional tweed, couture dresses, hand-stitched quilting and turf-inspired shoes.
The students on the course - alumni include Stella McCartney, Christopher Kane and Hussein Chalayan - were answering a cut-and-make brief set by Racing for Change, an initiative set up to broaden the appeal of horseracing.
Willie Walters, Course Director of BA (Hons) Fashion at Central Saint Martins describes how the project's designs were developed: “Starting with an exhilarating outing to Newbury Racecourse, students began working on themes which they drew from their experience of the day. They researched equestrian dress, attended a lecture from fashion historian Marie McLoughlin on the development of the riding habit and finally made their decisions on their own particular avenue of research to follow in order to create their fashion silhouette. The results can now be seen at this exhibition.”
I unfortunately am not able to attend, but I do have a few favourites from the exhibition lookbook. Here's a preview, along with the designer's story behind the outfit:
RICHARD MALONE. This design was inspired by Richard’s trip to Newbury Racecourse, when he observed some children who were also at the raceday. They were fully immersed in the day’s activities, and were observed spinning in every direction as they tried to take in all of the excitement. The dress is made of hand-painted panels, each of which represents a scene from the races through a child’s perspective. It has been carefully tailored to flare during movement, based on the children’s original spinning movement.
DAISY COLLINGRIDGE. The inspiration for this garment came from photographs taken at some local riding stables, when Daisy got an insight into the lives of horses and how they are looked after. The horses were all absent from their stables, but their blankets and other gear remained. The quilted numnahs, which sit beneath the saddle, is where the inspiration for this dress has come from; incorporating horse images within a hand-quilted design.
NICOLE WALUGEMBE NABISERE. A trip back to Uganda Kampala reminded Nicole of her home life, which she then compared to the classism of 18th century Britain. This resulting traditional court coat turns into a shower proof jacket – protection against Britain’s rainy weather – and also incorporated Ugandan fabrics to represent the tribes from her home country. The trousers are shaped on the jockey’s breeches.
Photos: Wiglius de Bie