From medieval swamp fantasies to QR code-generated digital wear, these are just a few of the designers that should be on your radar

Central Saint Martins’ BA graduate show is one of the events I look forward to most each season, but the truth is, it’s also one of the hardest to write about. When so many wildly talented young creatives are putting their wares on show, how do you even begin to whittle them down to the ‘must-sees’ or ‘ones to watch’? 

But though the Class of 2022 had one of the strongest line-ups of recent times – particularly impressive when you consider two of the courses three years were spent in various shades of lockdown – of the 115 offerings on show, there were a few collections really jumped out when they landed on the runway. Seriously: not even Madonna, who made a surprise appearance sitting next to FKA twigs on the FROW, could drag the attention away from the catwalk. 

As the class cleans up the classroom and prepares to fly the CSM nest into the big, wide world of fashion, let us introduce you to a few of the names to watch – and extend a congratulations to all the students graduating this year.

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Just as likely to be found hunched over a workbench, electric drill in hand and protective goggles on his face, as he is sat in front of a sewing machine, Emil Dernbach’s collection fused clean lines with sculptural flourishes. Models in full-length gowns moulded from lightweight metal and elevated jersey paraded carefully down the runway like statues come to life, with fun finishing touches taking the form of 3D printed doughnut earrings and swimmers’ caps. Don’t just take our word for it that Dernbach is a designer to watch in the years to come: he also took home the L’Oreal Professional runner’s up prize for Young Talent. 


In what was something of a recurring theme among the Class of 2022 cohort, Qianhan Liu’s cast of models looked like they’d been plucked from a fantasy console game and dropped directly onto the catwalk. Angular, shield-like sheathes came dripping with bleached and blue hair wefts, while faux fur was fashioned into corset tops and chunky boots. Clutching futuristic looking boxes which, to me, looked like speakers, and with trippy, hypnotic LED panels to their bellies, the vibe sat somewhere between Cyber Dog enthusiast gone raving and fantasy office worker of the future. Whatever the case may be, I loved it. 


You might already know Yaz Whitlock’s name, given she’s become a go-to for FKA twigs and notoriously created that cute-but-creepy CAPRISONGS goat baby for her back in February. Surprisingly when you consider how quickly her star is ascending, Whitlock is only now getting set to graduate from CSM’s hallowed halls, with a standout final collection you’ll likely see twigs in soon under her belt. Featuring sweeping gowns in rough, oil-slicked hessian, blister-studded bodysuits, and sculptural shoes that illuminated the runway as the models glided down it, Whitlock’s offering, like her talent, is not of this earth. 


With endorsements from Grayson Perry and Swarovski, which singled her out for its scholarship scheme, Mata Durovic’s final collection was a lesson in softness and joy. Her knitted, sculptural gowns were trimmed with meticulously applied rows and rows of crystals, while a standout in the form of a sparkly, see-through mac had been crafted from a bio-plastic ‘leather’ she’d grown herself at home which will degrade in the garden should the wearer decide they’ve had enough of the look (unlikely). Elsewhere, ballooning trousers that were trimmed with safety pins and yet more jewels were revealed to be edible. Chomp!


Central Saint Martins students are unsurprisingly being encouraged to create in a sustainable way, but the fact of the matter is that 115 designers are emerging into the world and potentially putting out collections – that’s a lot of clothes when you add it all up, and that’s only one class from one school. With digital clothes and events like Metaverse Fashion Week at the forefront of conversations about the future of the industry, one student thinking about creating in a different way was Lau Christie. The designer sent a succession of QR code-emblazoned cubes down the catwalk, which, if you managed to catch them with your camera as they bounced by, revealed a series of futuristic figures dressed in chameleonic structured trenches, trumpet flared trousers, twitchy puffers, and ‘anti-gravity’ hoods.

Head over to our friends at 1 Granary to see all 115 collections.