Fashion, textile and design students to showcase their work at Heriot-Watt School of Textiles and Design

Designs by 4th year BA Hons Fashion student Niamh Cochrane

HERIOT-WATT University’s School of Textiles and Design is opening its doors to showcase the final projects of around 160 fashion, textiles and design students in the Scottish Borders. 

The Graduate Showcase 2023 is expected to attract industry partners looking for new talent and will be staged at the High Mill building in Galashiels, a converted textile mill where the school is based.

The showcase will launch with a private showing for industry, staff and friends and family on Friday 2 June and will then open to the public between Saturday 3 June to Friday 9 June.

One of the key features of the show is a virtual catwalk, where visitors will see students model their garments strutting across a 6.5 x 2.5 metre double-sided screen.

Physical exhibits including fashion garments, textile designs, fashion communication and marketing work and interior design products will be showcased alongside digital displays and an immersive 3D showcase. This allows visitors globally to see students’ work online in a virtual gallery with different rooms and displays.

Heriot-Watt School of Textiles and Design was named Fashion University of the Year in the 2022 Scottish Fashion Association Awards, an annual awards ceremony that honours Scottish designers, photographers, models and fashion industry leaders. Heriot-Watt fashion, textile and design students have also picked up previous awards including Fashion Start Up of the year and Student Designer of the Year.

The theme for this year’s graduate showcase is Equilibrium, chosen to convey a sense of poise and balance after the disruptive years of Covid.

David Cavallaro, Head of Discipline and Project Lead for the Degree Show at Heriot-Watt School of Textiles and Design, said: “It’s been great to be fully back on campus this year and to be able to work directly with the students again.

“Our end-of-year degree show is really important, as it celebrates the hard work of our students over the last four years and gives them a chance to showcase their work to potential employers, not only here in the UK, but also globally.”

Professor Fiona Waldron, Executive Dean of Heriot-Watt School of Textiles and Design, said: “It’s always a complete joy to me at this time of year to watch our Graduate Showcase come together and to appreciate the tremendous creativity and skill of our wonderfully creative students. Despite a tough couple of years for everyone, I’m more confident than ever that our graduates have great opportunities ahead of them.”

The students showcasing their work are graduating from six undergraduate programmes and six postgraduate programmes. The undergraduate degrees are Bachelor of Arts degrees in Fashion; Fashion Communication; Fashion Marketing and Retailing; Interior Design; Design for Textiles and a Bachelor of Science degree in Fashion Technology. The postgraduate Programmes are Master of Arts in Fashion and Textile Design; Design Management; Digital Design and Innovation; Fashion and Textile Design with Industry Placement; Interior Architecture and Design and a Master of Science in Fashion and Textile Management.

Niamh Cochrane is graduating from the BA (Hons) Fashion degree and is showcasing three fashion designs based on how dementia impacts the brain. Her designs are based on brain scans and reflect her work caring for both her grandmother, Annie, who has dementia, and her grandfather Robert.

Niamh said: “Graduating from the Fashion course this year feels like a massive achievement for me, as I’ve had continuing caring responsibilities for both of my grandparents throughout my final honours’ year. Setting up my display at the university’s degree show really gave me a sense of accomplishment and I hope to continue working in fashion design, which is something I’ve always loved and strived to do.”

Niamh collaborated with BA (Hons) Fashion Communication student, Laura Ballamy, whose two grandmothers both have dementia. Laura’s Degree Show work reflects her experience of this through a book called ‘Forget Me Not’ – featuring graphics, interviews, poetry and photos – and a portfolio of photography called ‘More Than A Patient’.

Laura said: “With increased awareness, we can hope for a future where medical advancements will improve the outcome for everyone involved.”

Mia Canavan, who is graduating from 4th-year BA (Hons) Interior Design, developed a design for Edinburgh’s first sustainably-powered Grand Bath House for her final project. Her design is based on redeveloping an existing 19th century building.

Mia said: “To have the time, the space and the resources to explore creating Edinburgh’s first grand historic Bath House was as much an adventure as it was a learning experience. I expect the professional world of interior design will challenge me just as much.”

Heriot-Watt School of Textiles and Design is regularly named as one of the best places in the UK to study fashion and attracts fashion brands, textile companies, design agencies and other industry scouts to its degree shows.

The School is a centre of excellence in design and dates back to 1883, when classes in weaving, dyeing and chemistry were introduced to train workers for the local textiles industry.

Honorary Graduates include the late British fashion icon Dame Vivienne Westwood.

The Scottish Borders is at the heart of Scotland’s luxury textile and design industry and is home to manufacturers including Barrie, one of Scotland’s oldest cashmere knitting manufacturers. It was acquired in 2012 by French luxury fashion house Chanel.

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