Fashion, Features, News

Manchester Fashion Institute Fashion Spotlight: Showcasing MFI’s young emerging talent and innovative artists

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Featured image and photography: Nathan Cutler

aAh! Magazine highlights the up-and-coming talent of Manchester Fashion Institute (MFI) students this spring, introducing the young artists and designers who are sharing unique, creative and innovative work.

Our MFI Fashion Spotlight focuses on three second-year Fashion Art Direction students who are taking part in the university-led project titled ‘New Directions: Anticipating’.

Alec Dodson, lecturer and unit lead for this project, explains how the students were encouraged to deconstruct their creative process and explore how they can “very intentionally layer narrative through their work” – an important skill for those in the world of art direction.


20-year-old student Stella Cattaneo specialises in creative direction, styling, and photography. Her recent work has been centred around interviews about experiences of childhood. “It’s about reflecting on the beauty and pain of childhood and how we relive these memories as adults”, Stella explains. 

Level 5 Fashion Art Direction student, Stella Cattaneo, with her work

Stella directed and styled the shoot, aiming to capture the loneliness that can be felt during childhood. She recounts her process: “I wanted to fill the space of the shoot to make the background very maximalist.”

She creates a sense of busyness and then draws attention to the singular model, whose facial expression and body language conveys feelings of sadness and loneliness. Stella builds the narrative of an only child trying to fill their surroundings with things to make up for their loneliness.

For Stella’s next project she wants to focus on reimagining female goddesses from different cultures and mythologies. She intends for this to be a collaborative project with a fellow course mate and they plan to submit their work to magazines for publishing. 


Brighton born Lily D’Abreo is enthusiastic about transforming concepts into storytelling imagery. Lily was inspired by the notion of ‘purpose’ for her project titled ‘Not Sure – A Rediscovery of Fractured Cultural Identity’ for her ‘New Directions’ project. In a series of old, digitally scanned family photographs, she considers how identity and heritage can play a role in finding direction in life.

Using imagery of her family, Lily focuses her project on the theme of identity, in particular the loss of identity she has felt throughout her life. Lily explains the significance of how she put her work together: “It is in the format of a passport as a way of telling my family story.”

Lily chose to showcase her work in this format as a tactile and tangible way of demonstrating her imagery, all of which was done through darkroom photography and printed to provide an element of intimacy. 

Level 5 Fashion Art Direction student, Lily D’Abreo, with her work

Lily has been greatly influenced by her move from a small coastal city into a creative hub like Manchester, she finds herself  inspired by the talent and potential of young creatives in the city. In her work she has been enjoying producing and seeing her projects come to life, while also forging connections and collaborating within a team.

In the future, Lily wants to create a space for shows and events, where creatives can discover their people and foster these meaningful connections.


Amy Bostock, originally from Bolton, specialises in art direction and concept creation. She is also interested in styling. For her ‘New Directions’ project, Amy decided to focus on the NHS National Child Measurement program, which is a national public health program aimed at tackling child obesity by putting children into categories determined by weight.

For Amy, this was a very personal project: “This work is based on my own experience from this program, where I was put into a category saying I was overweight even though I was a very happy, healthy child.”

Level 5 Fashion Art Direction student, Amy Bostock, with her work.

Her own experiences in this program inspired Amy to incorporate food photography and still-life imagery into her project. Her photographic series of images features elements such as weighing scales and people being weighed.

Amy describes her work: “It looks into the negative effects of it [the program] and how it affects our relationship to food and with our bodies.” Amy likes to focus on themes of nostalgia, escapism, and the female experience in her work, with elements that aim to address social issues, like the program.  

Amy adds: “This is the first time I’ve been vulnerable in my work and been like, this is what happened to me.

“This is the effect of the National Child Measurement program. I’ve done a lot of research into it and know many people can relate to it. So it’s a personal one, but also one that a lot of people can connect to.”

About the author / 

Caitlin Baber

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