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In the largest scale fashion show staged in Belfast in recent times, the ground floor of the University’s new state-of-the-art York Street campus was transformed into a catwalk on Thursday evening for an extraordinary celebration of creativity, innovation, and dedication to craft.

In the 175th anniversary year of the Belfast School of Art, the graduating class from the BA (Hons) Textile Art, Design and Fashion course previewed their degree collections of to a sold-out show of friends and family, industry professionals, fashion enthusiasts, and supporters of the arts.

The designs reflect the breadth of artistic expression fostered within the course at Belfast School of Art, with each garment a testament to the creativity, skill and passion of our students who have honed their creativity and skills under the guidance of specialist lecturers and technicians.

Among those showcasing their final year collections was Lydia Eakin, a Textile Art Design student specialising in knitwear. Speaking following the fashion show, Lydia said:

“I was proud to display three looks in the Fashion Show, all inspired by my time on placement with the Inis Meáin Knitting Company. The looks are a celebration of my time on the island, inspired by the landscape and the islanders who live there. I wanted to translate, through knitwear, the colours of the sea, the sky and the rock which are overwhelming components of the landscape there. The fashion show is a great opportunity to present and showcase my work to family, friends, industry professionals, and the people who have supported me. Thank you to my collection’s sponsors the Inis Meáin Knitting Company, Donegal Yarns and Ulster Wool who have helped me create the collection for my final year show.” 

The BA (Hons) Textile Art, Design and Fashion course at Belfast School of Art is a skills-based course with five dedicated workshops in embroidery, garment construction, knit, print and weave and offering specialisms in Textile Art, Textile Design and Fashion.

A milestone event in our 175th anniversary year, the Graduate Fashion Show not only highlights the individual achievements of each graduate, but serves to demonstrate the rich legacy and forward-thinking ethos of the Belfast School of Art. Throughout its 175 years, the School has continuously nurtured generations of artists and designers, helping to shape the cultural landscape of Belfast and beyond.

The 2024 Graduate Fashion Show was supported by McConnell’s Irish Whiskey and produced by the Style Academy.

Opening the 2024 Graduate Fashion Show, Paul Seawright, Deputy Vice Chancellor at Ulster University said:

“It’s always a highlight of the year having our fashion show, and particularly special in this, the 175th anniversary year of the Belfast School of Art. It fills me with great joy, as an artist, that this University was founded on an art school. 175 years on, our job at the Belfast School of Art continues to be about bringing creativity out of our people. Every year, our students push the bar even higher and showcase their work to the public. I would like to thank our staff, as without their academic and technical support we would be unable to continue producing some of the best undergraduate work you’ll see in fashion anywhere in the UK.”

Dean Liggett, Lecturer in Fashion at Belfast School of Art added:  

“The global fashion industry is one of the world’s biggest employers and it is fantastic to have this opportunity to showcase the best of our home-grown textile and fashion creativity and talent. We are so proud to introduce the graduating class of 2024. This show is the culmination of hard work, innovation and creativity from an extremely innovative cohort of emerging designers and artists, who have showcased original work, tackling some of the issues facing the industry and displaying their unique skills and talent.”

“We are thrilled to celebrate this 175th anniversary year with our annual Graduate Fashion Show,” added Brian Dixon, Head of Belfast School of Art. “This event not only marks the culmination of years of hard work for our graduating students but also showcases the creativity and innovation that have defined our institution for the last nearly two centuries. We are immensely proud of our graduates as they make their mark in the world of fashion.”