On Saturday 28th October I had the pleasure of attending the FDC Young Designer Award and Collections Presentation at the Pullman St Pancras Hotel in London. Not only did I get to attend, I was invited to be on the judging panel for the Young Designer & Radical Designer 2017 Awards. The Fashion Designers and Craft Makers network (FDC) is a non profit initiative which has been gathering lots of momentum within the design community, founded by knitwear designer Joanna Marcella, the network has grown to include a wide range of talent from graduates to established designers from all different backgrounds in life. The aim of the network is to increase the numbers and visibility of the Fashion Designers and Craft Makers and other Creative Entrepreneurs to provide a platform for creative enterprise and hopefully success. Joanna helps encourage participants to reach their true potential by showcasing and profiling their design talent within presentations, catwalk shows, awards and events.
I was super excited to be part of such a fantastic event, a full day of fashion, creativity and networking with other likeminded fashionable individuals. From designers to bloggers, photographers to an accountant, we had many people turn up in support of nurturing the fresh creative talent and networking in support of our many different crafts. I arrived at 12:30 in a full street style look featuring Vetements, a burgundy New Look jacket worn off the shoulder and 5 inch killer Boohoo boots.
As I sashayed through the carpeted hallways of the hotel I met Joanna, the founder of the FDC and organiser of this event. Her passion and knowledge came through throughout the day as she helped organise photos with the photographers and models, and she ensured the whole event ran smoothly, and on time! I was taken into the main room in which me and fellow judge, designer Deborah Majen were seated. With a quick briefing from Joanna, we sat back in our seats and the first young designer walked in. With that, the difficult job of judging the Young Designer and Radical Designer 2017 awards commenced.
I must admit, the whole experience was super fun, and after an hour or so of deliberating and reviewing each designers work, Deborah and myself came up with our choices and the winners were announced. Winners get the chance to debut their pieces at Vancouver Fashion Week and the opportunity to show in the FDC New York City Angelman Syndrome Collections Presentation next year.
FDC Young Designer Award 2017
The overall winner of the FDC Young Designer Award was the talented, Violet Somers.
The young designers were tasked to create pieces that referenced and were inspired by the late designer, Alexander McQueen. While all the designers did this, and did this well, Violet had the vision, the technical knowledge and passion to take her design to the next level. Violet impressively is aged 19, and created a piece called 'Blood Bath'. A red gown that was beautiful yet sinister in red fabric that was created in long strips, cut and sewn on a infinite bias filled for structure with horse hair and boning that wrapped around the model. The strips were sewn onto a power mesh base for wearability and the gown consisted of a long train and had a cut off detail on the back which to me was very crab like. Violet won the award for pushing the boundaries and using her imagination yet displaying restraint in her design and knowledge of craftsmanship. She used technical knowledge, lots of imagination and hard work to create her gown entitled ‘blood bath’ for which she won the title of FDC Young Designer 2017, congratulations!
FDC Young Designer Special Recognition 2017
While Deborah and I weren’t able to choose a runner up, or a second place, we were able to give a ‘Special Recognition’ to a designer we felt had excelled, but didn’t quite make it to first place.
As judges, Deborah and I struggled with this decision as the standard was so high, and all designers presented us with something completely different from different perspectives & influences. However, after some deliberating we gave a Special Recognition to Young Designer, Paula Prodan. Paula is a very polished young woman who knows what she wants, during her presentation we were wowed with her poise and her polished image, as well as her beautifully crafted garment. Paula created a dress in which McQueen influences were evident. Her garment was perfectly created, totally wearable, expressed visible talent in its designing and was totally chic. A panelled top featuring two way sequins. The gold bottom of the dress featured exaggerated hips in an elegant gold snakeskin design. The dress not only drew influences from McQueen, but from a snake. The textured skirt, the sequinned top, all referencing a snakes skin texture. Ultimately Prodans eye for detail and perfect execution awarded her with a special recognition, congratulations!
FDC Radical Designer Award 2017
Not only did we hand out an award for young designer, we had a second award to present which was the FDC Radical Designer Award. For this we also got to give a Special Recognition as well as selecting a winner, but we’ll get to that later. This winner totally blew Deborah and I away with her thorough attention to detail and her vision. The winner of the FDC Radical Designer was Alexandria Chantiluke with her menswear brand, Alxzandria Menswear. Her brand is all about mixing tailoring with hip hop and black culture influences. She presented pieces from a collection entitled swamp 81 which was inspired by the Handsworth Riots that occurred in Birmingham in 1981 and 1985, she also drew inspiration from the long and short term factors that contributed to the eruption of the riots. We saw amazing street style pieces for men covered in Alexandria’s inspiration yet totally wearable pieces were shown even with the political statement. Images from newspapers showing the scenes of the Handsworth Riots were seen with text from newspaper headlines, lyrics from ‘Handsworth Song’ by Birmingham-based reggae band, Steel Pulse, and the first stanza from Benjamin Zephaniah’s poem, ‘Two Dozen Babylon’ featured on utilitarian garments. The tailored style of the 80’s with contemporary streetwear was mixed with riot gear pieces, all completed with the highest attention to detail. Zip cut off’s featured on trousers and jackets, coats were lined with text, frayed edges, a mixing of materials and black upon black created interest without over powering the eye. We truly were blown away with the attention to detail and the inspiration which was clearly close to Alexandria’s heart as well as still being a relevant issue in today’s society. If Alexandria’s following collections remain at such a high standard she’ll no doubt be a huge success. Amazing pieces that fashionable men will covet, congratulations!
FDC Radical Designer Special Recognition 2017
Fellow judge Deborah & I gave a Special Recognition in the Radical category to the talented, and ever so handsome, designer Jan-Philipp Kosfeld.
Jan-Philip Kosfeld designs luxury pieces drawing inspiration from the roughness of street culture with the elegant charms of the 1920’s. He presented us with 3 beautiful looks which I must admit, I loved! Stating that his pieces were unisex, we witnessed pure luxury in the form of elegant coats, jackets and tops. His craftsmanship and technical knowledge help push his designs, and because of this his pieces just oozed luxury. Elegant materials, luxury 1920s vibes mixed with Street-style and modern styling & cuts. We saw coats lined in fur with texture detail all over, high neck tops with cut out chest details and embroidered panels. Statement pieces without any ostentatious vibes. Simply luxury garments for the discerning man or woman.
Following the awards event, Joanna had arranged a presentation portion of the day, where designers got to present their collections to bloggers, press, other designers and members of the public who had tickets. We saw a diverse range of talent from all backgrounds, featuring everything from formal wear, casual clothing and fabulous accessories. Below is my pick of brands to know, designers and pieces that I felt were relevant, interesting or unusual.
Maison Magenta was one of the labels that showed during the awards in the Radical Designer category. A selection of beautiful pieces were presented in Avant Garde yet totally wearable style by designer of the brand, Anastasia. Anastasia who has taken internships at houses such as Christian Dior in Paris working closely with Raf Simmons at the time presented three looks from her debut collection entitled “The Glass Mass”. Taking inspiration from 15th century Murano glass chandeliers, evangelical wear mixed with 90’s supermodel glamour. We saw beautiful pieces in blue, pinks and silver inspired by evangelist vestment copes and chasubles worn by the clergy. The collection worn together create stunning and slightly majestic looks as models floated around the room, with the gentle hint of glass clattering from the hand embroidered Murano filling the air. Yet worn as separates with everyday casual wear would create really wearable statement pieces. It was evident from the craftsmanship and materials used that each garment had an abundance of man hours infused in it with love and care going into each detail.
The collection was beautiful and unusual, creating pieces I’d certainly love to wear during London Fashion Week come February. After talking to the lovely Anastasia I also learnt of her contribution to the awareness of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) which effects an estimated 250,000 in the UK. Anastasia is one of those suffers but she pushes forward towards her dreams despite the illness and wants her brand to help create awareness. A collection to be proud of, and I certainly hope Maison Magenta can go from strength to strength.
Super fun brand KC Dainty creates accessories that would glam up any outfit, from party dresses to casual wear, her pieces are versatile and pretty fabulous. Her range is inspired by bondage wear featuring harnesses, chokers and necklaces but don’t think that this is fetish wear. The handmade, bespoke fashion pieces are elegantly designed in a huge array of configurations, to be worn as accessories & jewellery to either glam up an old dress, be worn to spice up a bikini, or under an elegant jacket. I really do adore this kind of accessory that you can mix and match, and that can add depth to any outfit.
Sandermann is a brand created by Danish designer Stine Sandermann. I met her only briefly during the presentations but I really enjoyed hearing about her brand concept and looking at her fabulous designs. The brand Sandermann, is a womenswear label based on a sustainable concept, using up-cycled waste materials and other ethical approaches to design.
She presented a collection of mainly knitwear in lovely creams and blues. I had a close look at the garments and they were all beautifully finished and of high quality. Despite using materials such as wool from danish sheep that would usually be burnt and old cast-off materials, Stine managed to create beautiful, high quality garments in unique and stylish cuts & colours that would last for many seasons to come.
Creating elegant & fun one of a kind custom costume designs & dresses, Cocoabelly Costumes is a name to know! During the presentations I met the beautiful Zuri, founder of the brand, who explained how she combines her love of crafting with her passion for creativity to create unique dance looks. Her pieces are purchased by all walks of life, for many different reasons, but her mission remains the same, to simply offer and create sophisticated one of a kind costume design. Usually creating items from scratch, Zuri creates garments closely with her clients, ensuring great quality, a perfect fit and a garment the customer will adore. Featuring satin fabric in multicolours, lots of volume, Bralets and skirts, super fun pieces for super fun people. Below are some of the colourful pieces Zuri showcased to us, and check out those fans!!! They’re certainly on my Fashion Week wish list...
With a collection entitled ‘farther than farther’, Haun Yang presented stunning menswear looks in denim with silver stud details, large statement scarves in deep autumnal shades paired with long jackets tired at the waist with wide statement lapels. Using Tibet and the Far East as an inspiration, we saw classic cuts and shapes in menswear teamed with decoration in eastern flair. Blue garments with subtle red, orange and burgundy appliqué hems, simple menswear in a laid back relaxed style, with a modern twist. Detail was key in this killer collection. I really loved these pieces with their simple elegance and masculine details, super chic, a brand for key statement looks for everyday wear that will transcend seasons.
This was another brand to show originally during the awards portion of the event in the Radical Designer category. We saw beautifully elegant pieces in muted neutral flesh tones float in the room with volume and laser cut detailing which was all inspired by the welsh countryside. Ruffles, gowns, long skirts and trousers floated with the models. Raw cut edges looked like rocks around the garments hems, the laser cut details reminded me of countryside maps with ruffled collars looking like beautiful floral arrangements. With the inspiration running through each piece, I fell totally in love with the raw elegance and ethereal beauty of the pieces. Elegant and grown up clothing for an elegant women, with all the pieces created from what looked like beautiful floaty matte silks and weighty chiffon.
Lily Rouse London
Lily Rouse London was founded by Georgina Lily Rouse after graduating from the London College of Fashion. Georgina presented some beautiful & delicate pieces as part of the Young Designer Award portion of the event, and she was one of my favourites. Her ‘Demi-Couture’ brand explores a feminine approach to evening wear, showing a women’s body elegantly with sheer fabric and intricate detailing. I was blown away by Georgina’s strong brand aesthetic, her packaging, passion and the professionalism she presented. She showcased a stunning look with ethereal charm, a sheet bodysuit in nude with playful puff sleeves. The delicate shoulders filled with petals and an unusual feature of fly’s sewn into mesh on the back. Taking something usually seen with decay, and rotting flesh and making it beautiful and elegant. Infusing something ugly from nature into a beautiful garment, mixing Decay and Decadence where decay comes to life with the beauty of decadence. Decay and Decadence where decay came to life with the beauty of decadence. The garments were constructed from a range of luxurious fabrics, manipulated to create structure and detail, heavily embellished with delicate fishing flies to create unique and feminine edge. Lily Rouse embodies femininity and sophistication with a beautiful twist.
The last brand I want to mention comes from Shelby Fuller and her Elizabeth An’marie knitwear collection. I had a lovely gossip with Shelby during the FDC event and learnt how much she loves her work, and how dedicated she is. Shelby is a sheep enthusiast and lover of art, fashion and photography. She is a self taught knitter and has been making her handmade garments out of 100% pure and natural wool for a short time, yet has already gone from strength to strength. She also has her garments stocked by Wolf and Badger, London. We witnessed beautifully made knitwear pieces in blues, greys and whites with pink accents, some even encrusted with hand sewn pearl beads. Crop tops and knit trousers stood out from the collection for me. Styled with heels for a young fresh edge, the pieces were fantastic quality, mixing traditional craft in modern cut and colours. Well done Shelby on lovely pieces that are handmade by a true craftsman, or craftswoman should I say!
And with that, the day which was full of excitement, fashion and creativity was over. Till next time anyway...
A special thank you and shout out to photographer Steve Cook at AylesburyPhotoNews.com and Joanna Marcella the Founder of FDC.
For more information on the designers and brands featured please visit the websites and links below: