Central Saint Martins’ Hidden Secret: Graduate Diploma in Fashion

Fashion Unfiltered’s designers to watch from the course that gave us Michael Halpern and Rejina Pyo

Central Saint Martins: the art school with which few others can compete. With illustrious tutors in bucketloads and a dominant presence within the fashion industry, a space on a course here is the ultimate dream for anyone wanting to pursue a career in fashion. From Phoebe Philo to Alexander McQueen, some of the biggest names in the industry have walked the halls of this historic London college.

While everyone has heard about the school’s prestigious MA and BA fashion courses, there are other routes offered by the school which also have the power to catapult ambitious designers to stardom. Enter the Graduate Diploma, a one-year course that sits between BA and MA and is led by the infectiously bright – in both personality and dress – David Kappo, who aims to help students perfect their craft and find their niche, before moving on to the next stage in their evolving careers.

Kappo chats in his Granary Square office, taking a break from frantic preparations for the course’s final exhibition. He makes it clear that students on the GradDip are expected to prove themselves right from the outset. “It’s a very intense course,” he says. “They have to work really hard, but they get a lot out of it.” He cites Parsons, the Institut Français de la Mode and CSM’s own MA programme as the next stops in many of the students’ educations. Feted designers to emerge in recent years from the Diploma include Michael Halpern, Adam Andrascik and Rejina Pyo. The course is clearly successful in shaping new generations of talent.

“I’m very lucky that I do get fabulous students,” Kappo explains fondly. But his expertise and enthusiasm for teaching (“My product is people, that’s why I love teaching – I’m a people person,” he exclaims) must also be recognised for crafting the success of the course.

So, who are these young creatives set for stardom? Fashion Unfiltered was fortunate enough to gain access to this course and work with image makers from MA Fashion Communication. Browse the ones to watch…

Aina Guirao

A conceptual designer from Barcelona, Aina Guirao is as curiously creative as her work. Mixing Japanese oiran headdresses alongside skirts with pocket linings full of luminescent detergent and Poundland Catholic crosses, her collection stands out like a reflective road sign. Prior to her arrival at CSM, Guiraro completed a BA in Arts & Design and an MA in Experimentational Design under Jesus Prieto, expert in sociological perspective and artisanal crafts – an influence she mixes freely into her work. She says her “collection has little pieces from every genre, always focusing on dualities between light and dark.” Words by Zofia Zwieglinska


Photo: Shuo Xu, @xusure
Stylist & Creative Direction: Cvalda Xie, @cvaldaxie
Model: Luqi Yu, @yu67
Hair & Makeup: Erika Neumann, @funkyeri
Jewellery: Eva Wu, @evawuyang

Tania Garcia Trejo

Tania Garcia Trejo, CSM’s latest import from the bustling streets of Mexico City, has made it a point to use her work not only to support the Latin American community but also to blur the lines of gender and raise awareness for transgender issues. Her collections are designed to be beautiful yet aware; strong yet digestible – “subtle activism”, as she calls it. Where other designers focus solely on creation itself, the multifaceted diploma student educates herself in photography and styling, taking a 360° approach to her work: “I am in love with the creative process, but why would I limit it to only the garment?” Words by Mona Tehrani


Photo: Silvana Trevale, @Silvanatrevale
Stylist & Creative Direction: Daniela Benaim, @danibenben
Models: Asheka, @sheka_b & Simone D, @simone_lyds at Named, Santiago Joaquin, @santiagojoaquin

Keith Mosberger

American designer Keith Mosberger came to London to study after eight years of working as a pattern cutter in New York. At CSM, Mosberger hopes to reignite his creativity, producing designs that are purely his own – without rules or expectations. He says of his new-found creative freedom on the CSM Graduate Diploma course: “It is really really really freeing. But, also it’s a challenge to get back into the headspace of creative work.” Finding inspiration from movies, music, popular culture and fashion history (think Vionnet to Balenciaga), Keith Mosberger uses menswear tailoring techniques to create his dramatic womenswear pieces. Words by Micheál Costello


Photo: Ethan James Hart, @ethanjameshart
Model: Paulina Pitsikalis, @sha.zzam
Makeup: Azzurra Bonaldo, @azzurra_bonaldo

Miriam Kremer

Miriam Kremer, 28, all curly red hair and infectiously funny, doesn’t bow down to convention and nor do her designs. Her collection is as much a memoir of her three years spent in a Whitechapel nunnery and travelling around India as it is a presentation of her sophisticated pattern cutting skills and German heritage. Bubbling sleeves erupt from jackets and dresses made of inside-out denim and neoprene to resemble the abstract glasswork of Adolf Luther, an artist she discovered at her neighbour’s house in Düsseldorf at the age of seven. Her intricate patterns may open up to imitate Indian symbols, but equally they embody the secret skills Kremer learnt from the nuns’ candle-lit embroidery: “It’s all about contrast. Contrasting ideas, fabrics and shapes. I want to disrupt people’s points of view.” Words by Ella Bardsley


Photo: Jennifer Lafer, @jnnlfr
Creative Direction: Ella Bardsley, @Ella_b18, Jennifer Lafer
Model: Ombeline, @ombelineo at Named
Make Up: Maha Alselami, @maha.gram
Set Design: Agathe Chapman de Lussy, @agathe.angel

Zlata Belokobylskaia

After showcasing her debut collection at Moscow Fashion Week, designer Zlata Belokobylskaia left one big smoke for another in search of her big break. Belokobylskaia’s work is all about her Soviet Russian heritage. Emotion and personal history have taken form in layers of subtly coloured, intricately detailed embroidered fabrics. Belokobylskaia sculpts linen suits out of deconstructed boxes; the juxtaposition of the fragility of storytelling and the craftmanship of raw materials creates a cutting-edge concept. Belokobylskaia’s work emphasises how important it is to relate the garments to the human story. “Russia is my market, though I need to earn my country’s respect as a designer in London before I can return one day, to be taken seriously.” With an MA offer from Parsons already on the table, seriously is certainly how she will be taken from hereon. Words by Sidonie Wilson


Photo: Kiri Leigh Zullo, @kirileighzullo
Model: Heather McCalden, @marloweharlowe

Yasmin Pan

Yasmin Pan’s collection is centred around the exploration of the human posture. The creation of each piece involves designing the garment around her own body before testing various anomalous shapes around it. The process results in designs made from jersey and Lycra, fit close to the body, accompanied by subversive cut-outs, draping, and sinuous 3-D forms. For the Rio de Janeiro native, the pieces came from an interest in changing the status-quo: “Being mixed race, I never fully integrated with the traditional Brazilian norms of what is considered sensual. With my clothes, I wanted to redefine those standards and show what I think is seductive.” Words by Martin Onufrowicz


Photo: Ethan James Hart, @ethanjameshart
Creative Direction: Marius Michel, @marius.gif
Model: Amelia Brown, @ameliabrown07 at Models 1
Hair & Make-up: Alice West, @alicewest & Kasia Perdion, @kasia_perdion_

Jordan Beeby

Proof that hard work and persistence pays off, English designer Jordan Beeby took three attempts to gain acceptance to CSM. His sophisticated, all-black collection reflects his strength. But, look closely, and it’s actually formed from thick bike pads, rubber car mats and spiky clothing hangers. “It shields the body; a form of protection,” Beeby explains. The dramatic, asymmetric designs merge his training in costume design with his desire to make wearable clothing. His inspiration? “The darker side of fashion.” Equal parts ominous and sleek, dark fashion sums up this collection perfectly. Words by Jessica Carroll


Photo: Roni Ahn, @roniahn
Model: Esther Adeniyi, @estherrr_a

Jisoo Baik

Hailing from Asia’s fashion capital, Jisoo Baik represents the exact futuristic minimalism you would expect from a Seoul native. Inspired by fine art and performance, her clean and simplistic designs are never just that. Instead, the garments come alive through fully adjustable shapes, which can be moved in several positions to create ultimate versatility. “The purpose was that it can be changed. It’s fun to me to create an outfit that has multiple styling options already built in,” says the designer.  What’s in store for the young designer? Her expertise and attention to detail would be a perfect fit for a historic French fashion house, such as Dior or Margiela. Words by Mona Tehrani


Photo: Jenny Lafer, @jnnlfr
Stylist and Creative Direction: Daniela Benaim, @danibenben
Model: Dobrawa Zowislo, @iamdobrawa,
Makeup: Maha Alselami, @maha.gram

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