The Young Designer Awards Reviewed

Now in its fifth year, the Young Designer Award is a national search for the best new design talent. It provides a platform for emerging fashion designers to showcase their five piece collection at the St Andrews Charity Fashion Show, the largest and most successful student-run event in the UK.

Applicants are asked to produce five original pieces as a runway collection in just ten weeks. This year’s inspiration came from the brief ‘Eyes Wide Shut’, based on Stanley Kubricks 1999 film that deals with the confusion between fantasy and reality.

The finalists included menswear designer Nicole Wells and Stuart Paisley, and womenswear designers Faisal Mohammad and Nicole Hurrans.

Stuart Paisley produced a masculine tailored collection, working with the concept of seeing in black and white in a world in which we hide behind emotional insecurities and wait for a knight to rescue us from the everyday. With bold black and white designs, ruched suit trousers and caplets shrouding the shoulders, Paisley turned his models into modern day knights. Nicole Hurrans’ collection was in complete contrast as she re-imagined nightwear as daywear, inspired by the idea of sleepwalking: ‘your eyes are open but your mind is asleep’. Using sheer striped fabrics and silk, her collection had a soft sensual character. Faisal Mohammad’s outfits took on a sci-fi twist, with dark woollen dresses featuring bells and plastic detailing. His pieces embodied the idea of multi- dimensional realities in both the universe, and within us.

On the 7th February, the finalists presented their collections to a panel of judges, including Harris Tweed’s Creative Director Mark Hogarth, and Karla Andrews from the Scottish Fashion awards. Nicole Hurran emerged as the winner of the public vote. However Nicole Wells was announced as the overall winner by the panel.

Hailing from the same university as last year’s winner Joe Swinnerton, Nicole Wells is in the third year of her fashion studies course at the University of Derby. Well’s collection reflected how our generation has grown up looking into a screen, relying on devices to present a true view of the world to which we have our eyes closed. The colour palette of greys and pure whites created a clean technological aesthetic. Each outfit included device pockets and headphone channels, in addition to long sleeves, high necks and oversized hoods that shrouded the models and created a feeling of isolation, reflecting how gadgets have come to consume most of our lives. The purpose of her heavy wool jacket design was perfectly illustrated by the model taking a selfie during the show with his phone attached to the integrated headphones.


The culmination of the designers efforts came to life at the end of the Fashion Show as the models danced down the catwalk in the centrepiece of each collection. The pieces held their own against the established designers, Hayley Scanlan and Saunt&Sinner, demonstrating the high level of talent the Young Designers Award produces.

In such a competitive industry, FS offers a much-needed springboard for young designers, and will help Nicole Wells in the first steps of her fledgling-yet very promising- career.

Photos courtesy of FS Facebook page.