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TexSelect 2018: Notebook from London

8 July 2018 by Meghna Sarkar in Fashion, Features, Home, Interiors & Auto, Sponsors, Judges & Champions

The anticipation was palpable as 24 talented textile designers from across the UK prepared to showcase their work at the TexSelect London Preview (July 4-5). Highly innovative design work and mesmerizing colour and pattern, all mingled with an infectious creative energy. CLICK HERE to view designer profiles.

Held in the Triangle gallery at Chelsea College of Arts, the event marked an important opportunity for the recently graduated designers to present their collections to hard-to-impress textile industry professionals. “This is my first time here and frankly, I am overwhelmed!” said Abigail Bruce, the Marketing Director for Pantone. “It’s been outstanding listening to each of the designer’s stories and understanding their inspirations. Many of them already have a strong commercial vision which is incredible.”

Tanya Kirst, Laura Sofia Clerici and Andrea Taborelli from Unindustria Como, with TexSelect creative director, Peter Ring-Lefevre…

Such comments are hardly surprising. The designers have been through a rigorous selection process. Initially put forward by their college tutors, over 200 are then interviewed with their portfolios by a panel of textile specialists who are looking not only for innovation, but for exceptional use of colour, technical strength and commercial understanding – and in many cases, the unexpected ‘wow’ factor.

Print designer Eve Campbell, from the Glasgow School of Art, layers her boldly stencilled designs onto concrete and ceramic tiles as well as onto cloth. “To hear people comment that my prints have application beyond fabric is really encouraging,” said Eve, “appreciating that print designs can translate onto other materials and substrates.” Little wonder that Eve, along with designers Hettie Johns and Catherine Sinclair, is shortlisted for the TexSelect Interiors Prize.

Designer Eve Campbell with Joanne Jørgensen and Kim Johnson of Nike London…

There are four TexSelect prize categories – Fashion, Interiors (sponsored by The Clothworkers’ Company), Pattern (sponsored by Liberty) and Colour (sponsored by Mode Information). Other major award categories include two that are new for 2018 – The Worshipful Company of Woolmen TexSelect Design Innovation Award for Wool in Interiors, and the WGSN TexSelect Textiles of the Future Award.  This will also be the second year for the coveted Marks & Spencer TexSelect Fashion Fabric Award.

Judging the awards this year were Abigail Bomford, creative director Camira Fabrics, Polly Leonard, founder/editor Selvedge magazine, Helen Palmer, Director of Materials & Knit, WGSN, Andrew Dawson, Master of The Worshipful Company of Woolmen, and Michael Angove, eponymous designer and artist.

Judge, Abigail Bomford, considering the work on show…

Exciting enough to be selected as one of the 24 ‘stars’, being shortlisted for an award is the icing on the cake. “I am so excited to be shortlisted!” said Livia Papiernik, the first graduate ever to be selected from The Royal School of Needlework. Flooring onlookers with her intricately hand-embroidered fabrics and quirky 3D embroidered accessories, the mixed media designer was shortlisted for the TexSelect Fashion Prize: “I want to have my own couture brand in the future,” said Livia, “so it’s very encouraging that visitors are commenting that I have the potential to do something big. Many people think that embroidery is old-fashioned and traditional, but my work has always been about challenging these notions and exploring the medium in a modern fun way.”

Inevitably decisions around short lists and winners were hotly debated, with the judges often torn between multiple talents. Wrapping up, after the short lists had been announced (winners are not announced until Première Vision Designs in September), Michael Angove had an inspiring message for all the designers: “You are ALL winners and textile warriors!” Polly Leonard expressed similar thoughts: “I have been looking at textiles every day for the last 25 years, and I think that I have seen just about everything, but today I have been truly inspired. So carry on, and remember, be tenacious.”

Judges and TexSelect team deliberating their decisions…

The following day at TexSelect’s VIP Breakfast, Natalie Anselm, Marks & Spencer, was busy selecting the short list for the M&S TexSelect Fashion Fabric Award: “Oh my God, it’s a feast for the eyes, and I love how professionally the designs are presented. All are obviously very talented but to see such professionalism right out of university is really refreshing. The conscious focus on sustainability this year also sends out a really important message and is something that M&S applauds.” Helen Palmer, WGSN, echoed this: “Our new award, the WGSN TexSelect Textiles of the Future Award, is all about demonstrating future thinking around social responsibility.  It’s a critical message for the industry, and one which textile designers are perfectly placed to influence.”

Katie Greenyer, Pentland Brands, reviewing the work of designer Matthew Briggs…

The designers have come a long way in the past few weeks, and the TexSelect London Preview is just the first step. TexSelect, with its over 40 years of experience, prides itself on delivering an exceptional mentorship programme, a programme that starts in London with in depth discussions on IP and copyright, how to manage the international buying process, how to manage an online presence and social media – and delightfully a presentation by the senior design team at Liberty London, demonstrating how they work and pull together their seasonal collections.

Beth Porter, from Winchester School of Art, notes that the Preparing for Professional Practice talks encouraged her to understand…“‘Oh, THIS is what I need to set up on my own’. It’s all been really helpful”.  Digital print designer Florence Yexley, from Leeds Arts University, was also buzzing with enthusiasm: “I can’t believe I’ve been selected. This week has been great, looking at everyone’s diverse collections and getting to know the business side of it all.  As a young designer starting out I never imagined that I’d have my own stand at Première Vision, it’s nerve-wracking to even think of it.”

Designer Beth Porter with judge (and TexSelect alumnus) Michael Angove…

Each year throws up some unexpected anomaly – for 2018, it was the fact that six graduates from Glasgow School of Art were selected. Considering the recent and devastating second fire at the institution, the upbeat attitude of designers Claudia Veneroni, Catherine Sinclair, MJ McKasiarz, Eve Campbell, Alice Percy-Raine and Erin McQuarrie was doubly inspiring. And their work spoke for itself – all were short listed for one or more awards.

Talking about the talent spread this year, Peter Ackroyd, President at International Wool Textile Organisation said:“I am very impressed with everything. I saw wool being used in ways I never expected. Also, there’s so much colour. In my long years in the business I have always seen the dominance of black and white, now it’s quite different.”

Designer Grace Hartley showing her work to Peter Ackroyd…

David Macleod, Brand Manager at Rowan Fabrics, applauded the seemingly limitless creativity: “I am so pleased I came. I liked all the designers I have spoken to which is a huge problem because I can’t work with all of them. I have invited some to visit our studio, we want to build a relationship and see how their ideas could be potentially converted into commercial work.”

David Macleod, perusing the TexSelect 2018 brochure…

Happily the TexSelect London Preview sent out a clear message to industry: that these 24 talented designers are looking forward to taking Paris by storm (Premiere Vision Designs, 19-21 September 2018) – bring it on!

*2018 shortlists: Marks & Spencer TexSelect Fashion Fabric Award– Eve Campbell, Sam Wilde, Alice Percy-Raine; Worshipful Company ofWoolmen TexSelectDesign Innovation Award for Wool in Interiors– Grace Hartley, MJ McKasiarz, Hettie Johns; TexSelect FashionPrize – Jessye Boulton, Matthew Briggs, Livia Papiernik; TexSelect InteriorsPrize– Hettie Johns, Eve Campbell, Catherine Sinclair; TexSelect ColourPrize–Grace Hartley, Rosa Pearks, Amy Gorman; TexSelect PatternPrize–Erin McQuarrie, Claudia Veneroni, Cassie MacDonald.

The Woolmark Company TexSelect Awardand WGSN TexSelect Textiles of the Future Award will be judged and awarded at Première Vision. All winners will be announced at Première Vision Designs Paris, 4.30pm on September 20.

Eponymous designer Ella Doran (TexSelect alumna) with designer Molly Hayden…


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