A guerrilla gang determined to instigate a fashion revolution staged a coup at Kingston University’s MA Fashion Show earlier this autumn, taking over the catwalk to reveal a colourful range of street-style unisex clothing. Created by Kingston University MA Fashion student Louise Aquilina, the urban-inspired collection reflects a band of renegade fashion fiends she dubbed the Demo Division. Louise was inspired to create the eight revolutionary characters after a trip to Cuba earlier this year and regards them as a representation of a rebellion against superficial, meaningless fashion. The young designer from Malta merged the gender blurring of hip hop culture with Cuban workwear and street clothing to create garments that can be worn by men or women.
“My trip to Cuba had a big influence on my collection. Everything in the country is regulated and there’s a strong militant, worker vibe,” Louise said. “Yet I observed that many people still longed to express themselves through dress and improvised with whatever they could find to create their own, mashed up style.”
Louise, who teaches textiles and 3D design at a further education college in her home country, used pieces of second hand denim throughout her eight looks - a nod to her belief that garments should be durable rather than thrown away as seasons pass and trends change. Illustrations she gathered from children in Havana during her Cuban adventure also feature in colourful, chunky knit jumpers and an oversized blue and mustard scarf.
The young designer hopes to use her Demo Division characters to highlight her belief that fashion is not just about garments. “We’re living in an era where anything could pass as fashion and anyone could be a designer,” Louise said. “I’m all for liberty of expression, but I feel it can sometimes diminish meaning within the industry. I want to remind people that fashion doesn’t have to be superficial or entirely based on aesthetics. It can just as easily have a story to tell or a message to convey.”