150 applicants, 4 finalists, 10 weeks, 5 pieces, only 1 winner..
Is the best way I could sum up the most underrated aspect of FS, The Young Designer Award. The concept of YDA was explained to me by it’s Head, Catherine Hampton, as part of ‘a duty to nurture the creativity, skill and drive of other young people around the UK,’ the committee of FS being young people themselves. Branching out of FS 6 years ago, the award has gradually gained in reputation as a springboard into the competitive fashion industry. This year’s 4 finalists: Daniel Chu, Elissa Grainger, Anna Juszczyk and Shoni Vaknin, were tasked with interpreting the creative brief ‘BARE’ and delving into the struggles of mental health. With just 10 weeks to create a 5-piece collection, the end results are true feats of what you can make with lots of determination and a bit of creativity.
Daniel Chu, the first finalist graduated in Fashion Design from the University of Central Lancashire in 2015. His creations were striking as the most feminine of the ‘Bare’ collections, working navy and pink tulle into flowing dresses and billowing trousers. However, the sheer materials were juxtaposed with the stark line of black harnesses, working as a skeletal restraint. The contrast in texture and style were inspired by the multiple meanings of ‘Bare’, capturing a sense of exposure and vulnerability, as well as highlighting the struggles of mental health through the restriction of the harness.
What drew the YDA committee to Elissa Grainger’s collection was her use of materials ‘Elissa created all of her lingerie pieces solely using latex, and yet her creations still look delicate from afar’. After studying Contour Fashion at De Montfort University, her experience in lingerie, corsetry, swimwear and sportswear design allowed her to specialise in working with latex. The material was used to accentuate the feminine curves of the body, with each garment moulding flawlessly to the models body. The silky ribbon fastenings adding a decadent contrast to the latex lace. This collection stood out from the others as the models were empowered by the stunning designs to take pride in going bare and exposing each and every curve.
Drawing inspiration from her surroundings, be it the architecture of a building or how a leaf falls from a tree, Anna Juszczyk’s used structure to interpret her collection. Her minimal all-black collection provided a dynamic take on the theme ‘Bare’. Using flowing fabric cut into asymmetric shapes and panel fringing, the clothing echoed every movement of the body. The collection gave the illusion of concealing the body, only to reveal a flicker of skin or the tremble in a step as the model walked forward.
Shoni Vaknin produced the only menswear collection for this year’s award. Her collection was inspired by SANE, FS’s charity this year. Her focus was on the exposure you feel while struggling with mental illness and the desire to hide and protect yourself from the world. The heavy knitwear, oversized coats and cropped trousers of Shoni’s collection, were described by the YDA team as ‘conveying a sense of heaviness’. The quality and craftsmanship in the designs is evident, these are pieces that won’t fade with fast fashion. They are lasting pieces that can be reflected upon, made all the more poignant by the inner struggle they represent.
The moment of truth for the finalists will be on the 12th February when the collections will be brought before the judging panel at Hotel Du Vin. This year’s judges are an invaluable well of fashion insider knowledge: Mark Hogarth, creative director for Harris Tweed; Hayley Scanlan, 2012 Scottish Designer of the Year; and Alistair McCallum, UK Communications Director for Fendi. For those itching to preview the collections before they hit the FS runway, drop by between 4-5pm, when the judging will be open to the public.
Time is running out to cast your ballot on Facebook and Instagram. So if you haven’t already check out the highlights of each collection, and offer a fledgling designer the chance to take that next stepping stone towards pursuing their dream career.