Up and Coming: The Designers to Watch

With London Fashion Week 2015 around the corner we decided to bring you an insider guide to what you need to know about the new designers on the block. Culture Whisper talks to the most exciting new designers, showing in the London College of Fashion MA 2015 exhibition, about their work and cultural life in London.

Credit: Alexandra Vacaroiu

The London College of Fashion MA exhibition will open on 18th February. In advance of the show Culture Whisper spoke with fashion designers to watch from the menswear, womenswear and footwear MA courses to provide an insight into what will feature in the exhibition, and what inspires these exciting new designers.

From outer space and 3D printing to the joys of Camden high street, these designers are making the most of the world around them, translating this stimulus into tangible and innovative fashion.


MEET: Maria Piankov

: Born in Tomsk, Russia, Maria Piankov graduated with BA in Fashion from JAK Akademie Hamburg, Germany in 2012. In 2014 she graduated as a scholarship recipient in MA Fashion Design and Technology from London College of Fashion. Before this Maria interned at the design studio of David Koma (London) and Valentin Yudashkin (Moscow) working on the S/S 2012 Haute Couture collection.

What are your favourite materials to work with?

I find it interesting to work with unconventional materials and turn them into wearable pieces. There is nothing specific I like to work with though, because my preferences change all the time.

Maria Piankov

What is your design inspiration?

For this collection I was looking at NASA. My starting point was “The Overview Effect”, a term used by the Astronauts to describe the moment when viewing the earth from outer space. Astronauts describe this moment as perspective- altering, an experience which totally shifts your awareness. For me it sounds just breathtaking. I was looking for ways to translate this into Fashion, to adapt the NASA concept to work beyond the mere appearance of the collection, in the interior of the garments, to make a statement which gives them an entirely new feel.

When you design at the moment are you creating with a commercial element in mind, or letting your imagination run wild?

I am always keen to create something that is very unique and special, yet wearable and functional. This is how I understand Fashion.

Who are you excited about at London Fashion Week?

JW Anderson

What was the last book you read?

The Great Gatsby


MEET: Emma Fenton – Villar

Emma graduated from the London College of Fashion and went on to design for the fashion industry whilst pursuing and developing her interest for menswear.
London-raised with Anglo-Spanish heritage, Emma uses London’s multicultural scenes and eclectic environment to influence a progressive, homegrown design style.
As a pioneer of authentic British product she explores and utilizes the resources available in Britain in a bid to safeguard the British Artisan. She uses traditional manufacturers who offer rich and desirable fabrics that are leading the current changes in social demands.

Describe your collection in three words

Customised, co-creative, DIY

What is your favourite piece in your MA collection?

The plain weave denim jacket with bellow front pockets and customisable pre-dyed wool yarn sleeves.  It encapsulates all of the different techniques and fabrications from the collection inone piece. It is also really wearable and so easy to style up with any look – I can’t stop wearing it myself!

What are your favourite materials to work with?


Is London a good place to be working as a young designer? Why?

I am a Londoner so I may be biased but I do think there is so much to be proud of in British fashion and London captures such a strong base of creatives. London Collections: Men is unrivalled in presenting innovative and dynamic designers so in that sense the city offers the perfect global stage.

What is your design inspiration?

Most of us have become compliant consumers displaying minimal interaction with our clothes. Today we can encounter others wearing the exact same garments offered by brands and chain stores selling the same choice of products. We are losing our sense of individuality.

In commissioning a British weaving mill I have worked to develop a denim textile. The surface design incorporates a repeated curve with wool yarn floats (fabric layers on the surface of the garment) that can be cut to personalise the garment to which it is applied. Cutting off the floats encourages an intuitive and free approach to design; it allows wearers of any skill the ability to participate in realising the final look of the garment. When cut, the floats become frayed-like fringes creating a deconstructed aesthetic similar to the natural behaviour of frayed denim fabric. Customising the garment has the potential to be an ongoing experience with further cutting of floats, thereby changing the appearance of the garment over time.

Emma Fenton – Villar (credit: Felix Cooper)

My collection aims to consolidate my practice as a designer and serve as a catalyst for further projects in co-creative design development as a sustainable practice. It aims to offer new solutions to the experience of personalising and co-creating garments. Wearers are offered a voice in the design process and the designer’s role strategically motivates product development without exclusive control of the final result, allowing both wearers and designers to share and create together.

Will you be looking to join a house or start your own label?

It would be exciting to confirm sponsorship or an opportunity to show with one of London’s initiatives for emerging designers, like Fashion East or New Gen so that I could continue creating menswear collections and develop my own label. But I am equally excited to explore the opportunities offered in the industry by established brands and companies that I have aspired to design for. Essentially I want to continue gaining experience in developing product so that I can progress as a designer and achieve my best potential in the craft.

When you design at the moment are you creating with a commercial element in mind, or letting your imagination run wild?

I would say a balance of both, the collection I have created has an artisanal element to it however it is still very wearable and I have had interest from buyers. It was still very important to me to create pieces that were commercial and identifiable during my development stages.

What are your top cultural events in London for February?

LCF MA15 exhibition at Victoria house basement 18-22 Feb, I haven’t missed it yet for the last few years and It such a well rounded display of all the different specialisms in fashion. I am also keen to see the Pleasure and Pain exhibition that will be on at the V & A  – I love footwear! So it’s the prefect exhibition to lust over all the amazing shoes that will be on display.

What is your favourite street in London?

I feel I should be biased and say Camden high street as I originally grew up there, people knock it for how touristic it is now but the place is still so vibrant with so much going on and lots of different characters – I have a good time when ever I go out there. I have just moved to stoke Newington and I absolutely love the area – church street has such nice pubs, cafes and restaurants to meet up with friends plus designer menswear vintage stores that are always good to browse.


MEET:  Zoe Jia-Yu Dai

Bio: A winner of The Cordwainers Dato’ JIMMY CHOO AWARD 2014, Zoe is a Taiwanese shoe designer based in London.
She studied at prestigious institutions in Taiwan until 2013, when she then decided to pursue an MA in footwear design in London College of Fashion.

Describe your collection in three words

Breaking the 3D-Mould

What are your favourite materials to work with?

The cracked leather and 3D-printing material (nylon powder)

Is London a good place to be working as a young designer?

Yes. London is the centre and shows some of the leading fashion in the world. It is a city with sophisticated production and innovative design experience in it’s history, and particularly in the development of footwear. London is a great place to get some experiences as well as working as a young designer.

Zoe Jia-Yu Dai

What is your design inspiration?

My inspiration comes from natural structures. Another inspiration is organic shapes such as, furniture and architectures. For example, the bone chair that was created by Joris Laarman and Sagrada Familia was designed by the famous architect, Antoni Gaudi.

When you design at the moment are you creating with a commercial element in mind, or letting your imagination run wild?

I’m doing both. When I’m designing my shoes my imagination coming up first and then commercial elements will be taken into account as well.

Which three pieces are on your spring / summer wish list?

Short boots, high heel and leather cross-body bag.

Who are you excited about at London Fashion Week?
Shao Yen , Mulberry

For more information on the LCF MA15 exhibition read our preview here 

First published on Culture Whisper, 6 February 2015

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