Fashion forward: Dazed & Confused

Dazed & Confused's fashion editor, Katie Shillingford has sought out the next generation of models, photographers and designers – and they're bursting with energy and colour
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The coming winter might be gloomy, but Dazed & Confused is optimistic. Amid the economic and political fragility that surrounds us, we have put more energy than ever into our search for the hottest new talent.

From young, up-and-coming photographers and the supermodels of the future, to the very best in graduate design, we have found a breadth of new talent for 2009 and beyond. The next generation is brave, bold and refreshing. Our fashion horizon is positive and thriving, despite the panic that the credit crunch has inflicted on the industry. The creators are creating more than ever before – optimism is imperative, and our outlook is multicoloured.

At Dazed & Confused we strive to keep our fashion pages exciting. We use new photographers as well as the big names, to keep our illustrations of the international collections as inventive and progressive as possible. Over the last year, we have worked with a number of new photographers, and have brought together our most-wanted for the December issue – Mel Bles, with her bright and personable approach; Fumi Nagasaka and her Noughties take on grunge; Daniel Sannwald for his psychedelic aesthetic; Mari Sarai for her energetic portraits; and Ben Toms, with his clean and classic revision of punk. They are pioneers, and proof of how exhilarating it is to see the world – fashion or otherwise – through fresh, young eyes.

Our quest for the very best in new talent has taken us around the world. From fashion weeks in Jamaica and Stockholm, to attending as many of the graduate shows as possible, we always have an eye out for the Next Big Thing. The international fashion institutions have followed suit, too, by opening their gates to fashion graduates and letting them loose on the industry. London's school for future fashion legends, Central Saint Martins, has unleashed many of this year's ground-breaking talent including Craig Lawrence's star-shaped jumpsuits woven from purple wire wool and Yang Du's eclectic fun-fur animal costumes and knitted pork-chop dresses. And Belgium's famously abstract Antwerp Academy, known for launching fashion icons "The Antwerp Six", has followed suit. But other great hotspots for new designers include the ITS fashion competition in Trieste, Italy, and other British colleges such as The Royal College of Art, Ravensbourne and the London College of Fashion.

London Fashion Week has again played host to numerous success stories this year. With knitwear duo Cooperative Designs showing their stripy explosions at Vauxhall Fashion Scout, and the progressive menswear designers James Long and Christopher Shannon both showing at the prestigious, Topman-sponsored MAN event, it really felt like change was afoot. The new fashion discipline centres on risk-taking. At a time when they are, to all intents and purposes, free to produce anything they like, we are happy to see that most students now take the proverbial bull by the horns.

Every season, the international catwalks introduce a new crop of young boys and girls who have been plucked from their hometowns all over the globe and transformed into the fearsome faces of fashion that storm down the runway. They train for months, perfecting their walks in preparation for the gruelling show schedule – from New York to London to Milan to Paris – which can often see them doing up to eight shows in one day. (Not to mention all the castings and fittings outside of the main schedule.) Those who can take the heat set themselves up for a season of glamorous campaigns and magazine editorials with the biggest styling and photography names in the industry. To work the catwalk for Calvin Klein, Prada, Miu Miu and Jil Sander, or to rub shoulders with the likes of Lily Donaldson or Jourdan Dunn, is a model's dream first season, and it happened to our December cover star, 17-year-old Canadian Kate Somers, who was one of our favourite girls to emerge from the Spring/Summer '09 shows.

Our pick of the new fashion talents do not yet reach the upper echelons of Nick Knight, Alexander McQueen or Kate Moss. But onward and upward, our photographers, designers and models are bursting with ideas and talent. Of course they do not hold the answers to the world's problems, but they can certainly make it look better. Brace yourself for fashion's new optimism.



Katie Shillingford is fashion editor of 'Dazed & Confused'. The December issue is out this Thursday; www.dazeddigital.com

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