Escaping into the world of art and fashion has been far more than a hobby for 22 year old menswear design student Ben Bennai. In fact, it has been a lifeline.

Born and raised in multi-cultural North West London, Bennai looked to those from low-income households for his final collection and focused on one survival skill he believed they all share – imagination. ‘It is about keeping your head above the water and rebuilding the world you experience,’ he says. Having used his work as a coping mechanism in the past, the designs for his final collection became a response to nervous gestures and movements such as keeping your hands in your pockets and throwing clothes on the floor.

After interning at Alexander McQueen and then Raf Simons during his placement year – where he worked on the brand’s first womenswear collection – it became clear to Bennai that he would continue designing for women. Much like himself, Bennai wanted his collection to be introverted, tentative and romantic. Stressful experiences like love, death and even paying rent all fuel Bennai’s design aesthetic which aim to subvert recognisable garments. ‘I like to position my work, between brutally normal and slightly surreal. It’s a bit funny, a bit sad and cathartic.’ 

Hannah Karpel, BA Fashion Journalism