This weekend saw the United Kingdom’s latest graduates emerging from their respective fashion schools and into the industry at the nation’s collective fashion event: Graduate Fashion Week – a four-day exhibition where British and international graduates can present their work, make industry contacts, and compete for awards.
With over 30,000 visitors this year, an increase from the average of 20,000-25,000 visitors in previous years, GFW is one of the world’s biggest student fashion events credited with launching the careers of top designers like Stella McCartney and Burberry’s Christopher Bailey, among others.
Vivienne Westwood, Calvin Klein, Gareth Pugh, and Tommy Hilfiger spoke at the event while the runway showed a wide array of colleges including the Edinburgh College of Art and the global Istituto Marangoni.
Grace Weller of Bath Spa University, whose collection featured beautifully intricate floral embroidery on dark lace, won both the Womenswear Award and the George Gold Award, prize includes £10,000 and a paid internship with George at Asda. George will also produce and stock a collection of her designs. The company’s vice-president, Fiona Lambert, title sponsor of Graduate Fashion Week, added: “The amount of hard work, real artistry and creativity collectively put into Grace Weller’s collection truly made it stand out from the crowd. Meeting Grace, hearing about her research and her drive to keep testing the boundaries of what she could achieve, it is no wonder such a beautifully crafted collection was created. We are proud to announce Grace as the 2014 winner of The George Gold Award.”
Weller said: “I’m overwhelmed and so happy. I’m completely pinching myself. I’ve always wanted to be a designer so I can’t believe I’ve won two awards today.”
Winners were chosen by a judging panel including designers Peter Pilotto, Louise Gray and Agi & Sam, as well as milliner Philip Treacy and British Fashion Council ambassador for emerging talent, Sarah Mower.
Aimee Dunn of Nottingham Trent University, won the menswear award
Rebecca Swann, also of Nottingham Trent University, who won the Stuart Peters visionary knitwear award.
Manchester School of Art’s Camilla Grimes won the creative catwalk award.
Taiwanese student Shan-Liao Huang from Shih Chien University, won the International Catwalk Competition for his strong armor themed mens- and womenswear collection.
Graduates from Italy, France, Norway, Ireland, Sri Lanka, Australia, and Russia also took part.
The Best of Graduate Fashion Week show showcased individual collections by the most talented young designers of the week.