Yaku Stapleton Scores Top Honor at Central Saint Martins MA Fashion Show
LONDON — Yaku Stapleton took home the top L’Oréal Professionnel Creative Award at the annual Central Saint Martins MA Fashion press show Monday evening. Ibrahim Kamara, art and image director at Off-White and editor in chief at Dazed, picked the winner this year.
Stapleton’s graduation collection presented an “impossible family reunion” in the online fantasy role-playing game RuneScape. The designer brought the characters in the game to life, dressing them in bright puffers, baggy cargos, lime green tracksuits, a backpack in the shape of a goblin, and a giant hammer carried over the shoulder.
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The designer said his research of the Afro-Futurism movement led him to investigate how fantasy elements can be integrated into his previous studies into perception, scale and human form.
“I drafted character designs based on my family and then sought to realize these characters in garments, finding a balance between fashion and costume design,” Stapleton added.
On LinkedIn, Stapleton said he likes to solve problems and reach beyond conventional fashion practices, as well as substitute drawing for plasticine sculpting to add dimensionality to his designs. “I turn to 3D scanning, Clo3D and digital development before returning to the physical through garment construction,” he added.
Stapleton earned a bachelor’s degree in fashion and apparel design from Leeds Beckett University before attending Central Saint Martins. He is the recipient of the British Fashion Council Foundation MA Scholarship, the LVMH MA Fashion Scholarship and a prize winner of the Canada Goose x CSM MA Fashion Project.
While being a freelance designer, his previous work experience includes internships at Aitor Throup, Northern Power Studio and Ejder.
Speaking to WWD post-show, Stapleton said his immediate plans are to build the infrastructure to produce his collection in bigger quantities so that others can own them, while his life goal is to “own an unused airport hanger that can facilitate all projects of any size and medium.”
“I seek to expand and build depth of the characters I have made. I wish to apply this design language while maintaining the same level of detail within garments, furniture and digital assets within augmented and virtual reality. I see the latter as a way of expanding public access to the arts. I think creating an environment where information is more open source and accessible is exciting and the direction the industry will go,” he added.
This year also saw the introduction of the Canada Goose Human Nature Award for responsible design, which went to Chié Kaya and Alessandro Tondolo.
Kaya’s graduate collection, titled “Heirloom,” showcased her reinterpretation of a modern wardrobe, with playful details on the idea of dressing-undressing. Tondolo’s collection, “Cohaeresco,” which means “growing together” in Latin, highlighted the dissonance between humans and nature via patchwork jackets, stripe trousers and knitted crossbody bags.
Some 20 students were selected from a class of 41 graduating designers for the press show. Compared to an exuberant show with lots of wild ideas in 2022, this year’s cohort of designers felt more grounded in reality.
Max Anthoney Brown’s refined tailoring offering was Savile Row-ready, and collections from Giorgia Persti, Nomvelo Dlamini and Chen Si Fan could go straight to a showroom in Paris for buyers to place orders.
But there were still a few standouts in terms of a wow factor, such as Xuesong Yang, whose beefy collection was inspired by Mongolian wrestling, and Jude Hinojosa, whose collection featured a fantastical take on upcycling.
Francesca Lake’s dramatic take on what to wear on a church day for someone like Cardi B came with high energy, while Oscar Ouyang’s military and nature-inspired collection offered some statement puffer coats and trousers that were the extreme of flares.
Launch Gallery: Central Saint Martins RTW Fall 2023
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