As Graduate Fashion Week 2017 comes to a close, the winners of this year’s Gala Awards are announced, celebrating the Talent of Tomorrow with stars such as Halina North, Maddie Williams, Daniel Rynne and Irene D’Antonio. Judges included Sarah Harris of Vogue, Sadie Frost and Holly Fulton, with the awards taking place at the home of Graduate Fashion Week, The Truman Brewery in Shoreditch, London.

The prestigious Christopher Bailey Gold Award, named after the first winner of the award in 1992, Christopher Bailey, was awarded to Halina North of Edinburgh College of Art for her womenswear collection due to her strong catwalk input and originality, excellent craftsmanship and creativity. Judges for the award included Anna Clarke of Tu at Sainsbury’s, Sadie Frost of Frostfrench, Holly Fulton of Holly Fulton, Matthew Harding of Palmer Harding, Sarah Harris of Vogue, Ryan Lo of Ryan Lo, Carlos Nazario of Fantastic Man, Levi Palmer of Palmer Harding and Fabio Piras of CSM MA.

The judges of the Gold Award said, “We’ve chosen our winner because it was a collection that has shown a great body of work, it had a great sense of creative development and is an interesting collection. It was experimental and had immediate impact during the show.

Winner Halina North said, “I am over the moon, I cannot believe I won The Christopher Bailey Gold Award and Hilary Alexander Trailblazer Award. My collection is sustainable and that’s what I endeavour to carry on in my future designs.

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Now in its 26th year, Graduate Fashion Week brings the latest innovative and exciting emerging talent to the world’s attention, showcasing the designers of tomorrow in a four-day event. Supported by 13 Global Ambassadors and four Lifetime Patrons including: Christopher Bailey MBE, Victoria Beckham OBE, Vivienne Westwood OBE RBI and Nick Knight OBE.

Martyn Roberts, Managing Director of Graduate Fashion Week said,

“Graduate Fashion Week 2017 was a huge success. We saw so many graduates being offered jobs. We’ve seen so many companies come here, work with them, and help them on their way. When you see the show and you see the talent, you’ll realise the future is exciting and there’s so much potential.”

The Debenhams Menswear Award was presented to Daniel Rynne of Arts University Bournemouth for his thorough concept and research, attention to detail and real understanding of menswear. Judges included designer John Rocha, International model Paul Sculfor, Marcus Agerman Ross of Jocks & Nerds Magazine and Julian Fuller and Suzanne Harlow of Debenhams.

Winner Daniel Rynne said, “I am completely overwhelmed but I’m so so honoured to be awarded and thank you everyone.

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M&S Womenswear Award was presented to Irene D’Antonio of Edinburgh College of Art for her combination of technique, sophisticated execution, and self-expressive designs. Judges included fashion journalist Claudia Croft, Kitty McGee of Stylist magazine and Jo Jenkins and Queralt Ferrer of M&S.

Judge Queralt Ferrer said, “Irene’s collection is a great example of creativity and talent combined. She has already established an eloquent signature in her design process. It’s what you’d expect from a fashion house and it really reflects her talent and her understanding of the award and the fashion industry.

Judge Kitty McGee said, “She’s got a strong understanding of what is needed all round. I was really surprised to see this from a graduate, her collection speaks so eloquently and has such sophistication.

Judge Claudia Croft said, “It was such an impressive presentation from someone so young, but her work has a very mature and sophisticated point of view. It was beautifully done and really stood out for lots of reasons. But for me it really was because of the sophisticated way of styling that came through as someone who’s got a very definite vision. That is what great fashion designers are all about.

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The Visionary Knitwear Award was presented to Ruth Williams of Edinburgh College of Art as Ruth took knitwear beyond the confines of expectations, and her imagery was exciting, seductive, and modern. Judges included Sarah Dallas RCA, Katie Jones, Louise Trotter of Joseph and Iain R. Webb.

Winner Ruth Williams said, “It feels very unreal. It feels like it’s not happening. I don’t really know what to say except that I’m thrilled.

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Judge Katie Jones said, “Ruth should always follow her gut. She has very clear vision.

The Catwalk Textiles Award went to Maddie Williams of Edinburgh College of Art for her well-crafted collection and technical skill. Judges were particularly impressed with the way she deconstructed existing textiles and reworked them in to new fabric. Judges included Polly Leonard, Selvedge, Katie Roberts Wood, Jackson Tucker Lynch from Harris Tweed Authority, and Nigel Luck.

Winner Maddie Williams said,

“Graduate Fashion Week has taught me to deal with a rollercoaster of emotions and become stronger in dealing with success as well as failures. I think Graduate Fashion Week is an important platform in showcasing new designers because we don’t really have any other place apart from our own university, in a very local sense. Due to Graduate Fashion Week’s recognition, you really feel like your work is getting shown as broadly as possible.”

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The Hilary Alexander Trailblazer Award in partnership with Swarovski has gone to Halina North of Edinburgh College of Art, as it combined catwalk impact, creativity, and craftsmanship. It combined an intriguing link between historical references and fabric futures in terms of sustainability as it is made of biodegradable paper.

The George Catwalk to Store Award went to Laura Capello of Bath Spa University, for her beautiful attention to detail and original thinking. Strong tailoring was finished with exquisite beading and embellishment. Judges included Juliet Heard of Hello Fashion Monthly and Helen Low from George.

Winner Laura Capello said, “I’m very excited. I’ve come a long way from Hungary to study here and so I’m very pleased to have won.

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The Bonmarché Fashion For All Award went to Caroline Bowden of University of Central Lancashire for developing a concept through to delivery for a multi-channel environment. Her  idea was both innovative and unique whilst still being commercial. Judges included Caroline Baxter, Woman Magazine, TV presenter Mark Heyes, Celebrity Stylist, Helen Connolly, Adrian Marter and Geraldine Higgins all from Bonmarché.

The Mothercare Childrenswear Award went to Catherine Watts of University of Salford for her original and imaginative designs celebrating the whimsical nostalgia of the travelling world. Judges included Carolyn Asome, Myleene Klass, Suzanne Bailey and Jenny Titchmarsh of Mothercare.

Winner Catherine Watts said, “I see my future in the fashion industry I see as fun, bright, loud and energetic. I’m just working hard and playing hard. Firstly, I’d like to get a full-time job in childrenswear as a junior designer and I also want to build my own brand part time.

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The Clarks Footwear Award was awarded to Megan Davies of University of South Wales for her multi-level sustainability elements and her wearable and current design. Judges for the award included Rosie McKissock and Helen Richards-Rees of Clarks, and Hannah Rochell of the Evening Standard and En Brogue.

The TU at Sainsbury’s Womenswear Scholarship went to Laura Gillings of Bath Spa University for her great creativity, relevancy, and innovation, she won the judges over with her great confidence and passion. Judges included Henry Holland, Rebecca Hitchings, Hannah Mallet and Lucy Moore all of Tu at Sainsburys.

Winner Laura Gillings said, “I’m really excited to work with Henry. Very excited indeed.

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Judge Henry Holland said, “My first bit of advice I’d like to pass on is to figure out now what it is you would like to do with your work and stay authentic to that as you go through your career. We’re going to try and evolve Laura’s collection ever so slightly to make it more commercial for in-stores and we’re going to try and evolve it in a way that stays true to Laura’s aesthetic and stays true to her handwriting. So that’s going to be our first task.

The Tu at Sainsbury’s Menswear Scholarship was awarded to Amy Vonderwel of Nottingham Trent University for her passionate design, driven personality and understanding of retail. Her portfolio also showed versatility. Judges included Oliver Spencer, James Brown, John Carolan and Aimi Williams Smith, all of Tu at Sainsburys.

Winner Amy Vonderwel said, “I’m shaking like a leaf! I just can’t believe it. I’m completely overwhelmed.”

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Judge Oliver Spencer said, “It was great fun judging the award today. I met some amazing people, great talent. The level is very high at the moment.

The Boohoo Social Media Award went to Nathalie Clarkson from Ravensbourne.

About Graduate Fashion Week
Graduate Fashion Week is an organisation founded in 1991 by Jeff Banks CBE, Vanessa Denza MBE and John Walford to unify both UK and International universities and create a stronghold for the creative industries. In 1994 the organisation received charitable status. An unrivalled platform for the promotion of new talent, Graduate Fashion Week bridges the gap between graduation and employment and has had notable alumni including of some of the most successful designers of our time including Christopher Bailey, who was the first winner of what is now known as the Graduate Fashion Week Gold Award, Stella McCartney, Giles Deacon, Matthew Williamson and Julien Macdonald.

Graduate Fashion Week is the largest platform in the world for new BA fashion talent, highlighting the freshest upcoming stars in design, creative direction, marketing, communication, photography, illustration, and all aspects of the modern business of fashion.

Graduate Fashion Week not only showcases imagination and innovation it also influences the way the fashion industry works. By promoting the fashion industry, Graduate Fashion Week makes a significant contribution to the British economy. The fashion industry supports 797,000 jobs and contributes £26 billion to the economy.

For further information on Graduate Fashion Week visit: