Chinese alumna Yu Miao saw her designs take to life on the London catwalk as her work was selected for Graduate Fashion Week 2015. Discover Yu Miao’s journey from studio to catwalk in this interview.
Every year London’s Graduate Fashion Week showcases the work of over 1,000 top students and graduates from universities around the world. More than 30,000 guests enjoy the 22 catwalk shows, exhibitions staged by 40 institutions and the acclaimed Gala Award Show. There is also a busy schedule of workshops and lectures featuring the biggest names in the fashion industry. NUA is included in the event every year, including an exhibition of student work and a catwalk showcase. Selecting students for the event is a revealing moment for BA (Hons) Fashion third year students like Chinese alumna Yu Miao. In the end Yu was not only selected for the catwalk show, but she was one of only eight students in the UK to be chosen for the Graduate Fashion Week Press Preview.
Before London’s Graduate Fashion Week, there was a judging process to decide which students would show their work. What was that process like?
Luckily a visiting tutor who gave us portfolio advice was one of the judges. She helped us with the final touches and how to order our six outfits during the judging process. She also told us that the judges were looking for new, exciting collections and features like dramatic cuts, excellent textile experimentation and techniques they haven’t seen before. Overall, the new ideas had to be delivered with a high-quality finish and a promising level of taste.
Were you confident before showing your work?
I wasn’t confident at the beginning because there were lots of talented people in my class. It was easy to lose confidence and I couldn’t focus on my own work. This was why I set up daily tasks. I solved this problem by following my timetable. Knowing that I could successfully follow the schedule made me feel increasingly confident about what I was doing.
Additionally, we got great support from our tutors and technicians. The weekly tutorial with Sue Chowles, the Course Leader, was invaluable. She helped me stay focused. We also had technicians who helped us with all the hard work. They shared great knowledge about pattern cutting and garment construction. I learned (and practised) a lot during the process, which also helped my confidence in design and making.
What was it like seeing your work on the catwalk?
It was like what I imagine your kid’s graduation ceremony is like. Mixed feelings of excitement, pride and also a bit of sadness because a year of hard work was finishing. Although at the time, when I was watching the show I noticed a model’s hat was a little too big on her. I admit I was a bit too sensitive, but at that time I wish I could have just made it right!
How was it to see your work after so much hype and excitement about your collection?
My collection was the first on the catwalk during the Graduate Fashion Week show. I was watching models on the side of the stage and one of my friends was grabbing my hands – we were both shaking! I loved the fashion show very much. I loved the music, I loved seeing the audience watching the show, I also enjoyed the intense and exciting feelings backstage. I could not have made these happen without the support from my family and friends. I know they are happy for me. I am lucky. It went too fast, though, and I wish I could see it one more time.
Yu Miao presenting her collection to the Graduate Fashion Week selection panel.
A garment designed by Yu Miao styled and photographed by Sam Holden, BA (Hons) Photography
“I was watching models on the side of the stage and one of my friends was grabbing my hands – we were both shaking!” – Yu Miao