Once again Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) has proven to be in no short supply of talented fashion designers after another winning sweep of Graduate Fashion Week (GFW) awards. At this year’s event, ECA students were awarded an exceptional total of six awards; the Conscious Design Award sponsored by Swarovski, the Christopher Bailey Collection of the Year Award and the Hilary Alexander Trailblazer Award, all won by Brian Mc Lysaght (who also came runner up in the Menswear Award), the Womenswear Award and the David Band Textiles Award which were both awarded to Alexandra Fan (who also came runner up in the Hilary Alexander Trailblazer Award), and the George Catwalk to Store Award, won by Rosie Baird (who also came runner up in the Christopher Bailer Collection of the Year Award).

For the 2019 GFW gala event, the appropriate theme of ‘the Talent of Tomorrow’ celebrated both budding designers and the future of the industry, with a conscious eye on the environment.

Over 150 of some of the most esteemed names in the fashion world joined the GFW charity to judge the vast pool of talent and narrow it down to just 23 winners. Of these, three were ECA student who won multiple awards. One such winner, Brian Mc Lysaght, was called the event’s “shining star” by the GFW board and scooped three well-deserved awards for his work.

ECA student and winner Brian McLysaght, won three awards at this years event
Becky Mukerji
Brian Mc Lysaght with three awards

""I am so grateful to have been given such an enriching experience.”  "

Brian Mc Lysaght

Fourth year Fashion BA student Brian feels elated to have won these awards, in particular the prestigious Christopher Bailey Collection of the Year award. He said of the event;

“Graduate Fashion Week provides a wonderful opportunity for graduates to exhibit their work on the catwalk and to find future employment, and I am so grateful to have been given such an enriching experience.”

“For my work focused on sustainable fashion design to be recognised and appreciated by such esteemed members of the fashion industry was so humbling.”

Recently, the fashion industry has been heavily scrutinised for the amount of waste it accumulates and its contribution to the climate crisis. However, Brian aims to tackle the detrimental issue of landfill, pollutions and toxins produced and released into the environment by the fashion industry. His prize-winning work consists of a biodegradable, circular design and is solely made of organic waste materials, which he sourced locally.

Brian with his models showing off his creative and sustainable designs as he is presented an awards at the graduate fashion week
Edinburgh College of Art
Brian with his team of models wearing his sustainable and intricate designs
Fashion and design students at this year's Graduate Fashion Week
Wainam Cheung
Young designers and winners of this year's Graduate Fashion Week

In order to create solutions for the present and future, Brian took inspiration from the past. He mimicked the sustainable process of ancient societies by creating his entirely biodegradable clothing. To create these interesting and ethical garments, he hand-stitched thousands of miniscule laser-cut wooden mosaic-like panels. He says of his work;

“Instead of ending up as landfill, these garments employ circular design techniques, returning their bio-nutrients to the Earth at the end of their use.”

Edinburgh College of Art is exceptionally proud of Brian and his fellow students. Mal Burkinshaw, Senior Lecturer and Programme Director in Fashion reports that the judges commented that the students work was considered and composed “to an outstanding level”; from research to designing, to material development and the final manufacturing of the garments. Further comments from judges commended ECA student and winner Alexandra for her highly innovative technique which pushed fashion into the future. Fellow winner and textile student Rosie Baird’s collection was said to have clearly told a story through her skilful technique with a successful incorporation of sustainability.

Mal is delighted with the feedback, in particular the response from leading industry figures, from the likes of Givenchy and LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy), who felt that the standard of work created by ECA students had surpassed their expectations. He credits Edinburgh College of Art’s nurturing of young creatives to develop personal, contemporary ideas. Mal said of the GFW result and the students’ achievement;  

 “I am absolutely thrilled by the success of our students at Graduate Fashion Week, which is the premier showcase for graduate collections and offers unrivalled access to industry opportunities. Their success is down to the hard work, tenacity and dedication to their collections.”

“I’d like to thank not just the students, but their families, and the dedicated staff who have supported them to achieve this unprecedented success.”

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