Graduate Fashion Week celebrate a unique collaboration with International Jewellery London today at Olympia in London.

The IJL Catwalk space showcased the inspirational final year collections of six GFW high flying graduates, alongside an overview of jewellery trends for 2020.

 The work we do at GFW, perfectly mirrors the IJL Bright Young Gems programme, now in its 15th year.  This IJL initiative selects gifted designers who are recent graduates or current students of jewellery schools in the UK, giving them a unique opportunity to exhibit their work at IJL, as well as benefit from dedicated mentoring from jewellery experts.

Hilary Alexander OBE, the new President of The Graduate Fashion Foundation, introduced each collection and discuss their relevance to 2020 fashion trends, together with Katherine Ormerod.

Hilary explains: "Although each of the six GFW 2019 collections are very different in terms of inspiration and approach, there is a unifying thread which marks these young designers as Talents of Tomorrow. This is sustainability, whether it be expressed in the use of recycled parachutes, repurposed wool, or an outfit made from 300 odd plastic sandwich bags. GFW is proud to be involved with IJL in this ground-breaking fusion of a new generation of fashion and jewellery creatives”.

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The Graduates:

*Zhixue Xie, 26, from Preston, is a graduate of the University of Central Lancashire. The initial inspiration for his collection was, curiously enough, an old nutcracker which he found in a second-hand store and then became intrigued by the effects of the interplay of light on the various components of the tool. Hence the emphasis on dazzling yellow, as if glowing in a burst of sunlight for his futuristic sportswear and outerwear which can be worn by either sex. His favoured jewellery to accessorize this collection would be simple, atmospheric, shining silver pieces to underscore the mood of light.

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*Lingshan Fan,26, from Wembley, is a fellow graduate of the University of Central Lancashire. She was a runner-up in the David Band Textiles Award and a finalist in the Fashion Design Portfolio Award. Keenly aware of the need for protecting the environment, she sought to demonstrate how to make the best of limited resources in a collection based on a child's idea of heaven - but without the constant supply of new toys. She feels jewellery is an important way to complete a look, in the same way a good painting requires a good frame, and her designs need jewellery that is just as colourful and exaggerated as her outfits.

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 *Hannah Stote, 22, from Dorset, is a graduate of Bath Spa University. Her graceful collection of knitwear harks back to an era of 'slow', rather than 'fast' fashion, being made from 100% wool; 80% of it sourced from British sheep and spun in Yorkshire, with the remainder being reclaimed yarns from second-hand jumpers found in charity shops. She used age-old, traditional knit stitches - cables, plaits, lace-work - modernised for the sustainable market. Combining both the functionality of 18th century fishermen's ganseys and the elegance of pre-Raphaelite women as painted by J.W.Waterhouse, this charming, craft-based collection, won the Catwalk Knitwear Award at the GFW 2019 Gala. Hannah's ideal jewellery to partner her knitwear would be soft, romantic and, ideally, incorporating ethical, sustainable and/or vintage elements.

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*Holly Bryant,21, from Bath, is a graduate of Bath Spa University. Appropriately, in a year that marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day, she took inspiration from WW2 military workwear, making her collection from broken parachutes and unwanted denim, which she cut up and repurposed. She then used heat transfer to create a vintage-look print based on the military camouflage paint on "dazzle ships". As her collection is quite casual, Holly wanted laidback accessories, which led to bucket bags inspired by paratroopers, while her earrings reflected the 'dazzle' print. She feels jewellery is the ideal finishing touch to an outfit and would love to see her designs worn with silver head-pieces.

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*Allison Elizabeth Orr, 23, from Northern Ireland, is a graduate of the University of Central Lancashire, with a deep commitment to sustainability and reversing the prevailing "throwaway culture". To this end, and to underscore the shocking effects of plastic waste on the planet's oceans, she made her entire collection from discarded plastic - carrier bags, sandwich bags, plastic straws, bottles and bottle-caps.  Her goal was to create beauty from discarded, throwaway-waste, to remind us all of the human impact in our eco-system. She believes jewellery is a very important part of any outfit: "like the icing on a cake" and she prefers both simple jewellery and big "statement pieces",  with interesting shapes and textures, preferably made from sustainable products or eco-sourced. 

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*Laura Rose Collins, 21, from Southampton, is a graduate of Liverpool John Moores School of Art and Design. The inspiration for her richly-ornamented, fringed and fantastical collection is "Kukeri", the ancient Bulgarian ritual, where elaborately-costumed men and women with bird and beast masks, dance through the streets to divert the evil eye and ensure happiness, fertility, good health and harvests. Laura likes bold and unusual jewellery in bright colours and rich textures. Apart from traditional necklaces and earrings, she would like to see jewellery that could be held in the hand as a "statement feature".

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