This year’s Ulster University Fashion Show was covered for belfastvibe by Lewis Robert Cameron, Fashion Editor & Stylist at online men’s fashion mag Beyond Man.

Here’s what he had to say…

Take Me To Church may be a critically acclaimed, Grammy nominated, five times platinum selling smash of a TUNE, but on Friday May 29 it was my pre-show anthem to get me well and truly in the mood for the University of Ulster Fashion Graduate Degree Show.

Which just so happened to be held in a church, and not just any old church, but the historical and opulent St Anne’s Cathedral. A really big church. Providing the perfect backdrop for the new design talents of Belfast’s home-grown fashion graduates of the class of 2015, debuting their final year collections to a parish of fashion fanatics ready to worship and rejoice.

From Victorian volume to alien metallics, our prayers were most definitely answered as the Gods of Fashion blessed this momentous occasion with a sea of tonal greys and neutral whites, futuristic jumpsuits, contemporary knitwear, minimalist vibes and the odd half naked model. To celebrate, here are my top ten looks from our local graduates.

1. AISLING CURRAN

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Taking inspiration from body armour/chain mail, Aisling’s knitted metallic gowns ushered in a new wave of modern medieval glam with a slice of warrior princess on the side. Barbed wire neck braces anyone?

2. TARA MARZUKI

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Beauty meets simplicity in the debut capsule collection from Tara. A post-war 1940s style is given a stylista revamp as androgynous elements dominate this super chic range. Influenced by the ‘menswear as womenswear’ aesthetic of World War II,  paying homage to the first women to express feminist ideas via their statement clothing.

3. JESSICA COMAC

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Influenced by her mother’s ceramic sculptures, Jessica’s ethereal frocks utilise embroidery techniques such as pleating, smocking and gathering to create structures and layers to her garments. Her final collection ‘Insomnia’ is an all-white Linen collection with a dramatic and haunting feel with an abundance of flowing ruffles throughout.

4. HEATHER HALL

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Three words. The cocoon dress. Bulbous forms are the central story to Heather’s designs, complimented by soft muted grey and white tones, created for the off-piste female trendsetter, ingeniously derived from kitchenware and utensils that no longer have a functional mechanism turned out to create a voluminous and avant garde silhouette.

5. KYREE FOREST

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Leather and organza. Classic rock edge meets a dark romance as Kyree’s work aspires to “seduce, empower and trigger magnetism upon whoever wears it.” Grungy leathers to suggestive sheers, Kyree’s collection stays true to the undercurrent of society but in a chic and sophisticated manner.

6. JULIA DUFF

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For Julia, wearability and versatility are of the utmost importance, after being discouraged by a lack of choice within her own wardrobe, Julia decided she needed to create garments to represent the life of a modern day woman. Effortless, comfortable and aesthetically contemporary.

7. NIAMH NI CATHAIN

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Woven women of the sea, drenched in oil complete with elegant and intricate back detailing and warrioresque shoulder pieces. Niamh plays with the formation of shapes flat on the loom which open out into 3D structures being at the core of her ethos, she creates wearable pieces that fall straight off the loom and onto the body.

8. LAUREN CARLIN

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Rocking clean lines, monochromatic palettes and minimal features, Lauren’s designs are cool, futuristic, sophisticated and elegantly artistic. Not to mention her charcoal grey jumpsuit killed it.

9. CHRIS CAIRNS

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Finally, we have the show closer. Mr Chris Cairns. Who went full blown Victorian on us. Emphasising the waist to epitomise femininity, Chris found his inspiration from the Victorian era and how women seen on horseback evoked an essence of strength. Using luxurious fabrics with rich tones, Chris translated historic costumes into timeless, modern day designs.

10. MENSWEAR: ANDREW SMYTH, LEWIS HODGES & STEFFE MCNEILLY

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It is very rare to witness menswear designs here in Northern Ireland as we simply don’t have the market for it, but it lights up my life and these designer deserve recognition for trying to venture out into a world which is seeing a massive movement across the pond. Graphic print sportswear, architectural patterned shirts and colourful oversized knitted garments were just what I needed to witness after all the white, black and grey of the womenswear ensembles. Thanks guys. A reminder was needed after all the monochrome.

Models: Style Academy

Hair: Toni & Guy

Make-Up: Claire McEvoy

Photography: Adrian Quinn

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