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The Selection Process 2012 – in conversation with prize judge Caroline Burstein

4 July 2012 by TexSelect in Fashion, Sponsors, Judges & Champions

Caroline Burstein is creative director at the designer clothing store Browns Fashion and founder of the luxury bath and body range Molton Brown. Founded by her parents, the legendary Joan and Sidney Burstein, over 40 years ago, Browns is renowned for discovering new talents, such as John Galliano, Comme des Garçons and Hussein Chalayan. Browns was the first store in the UK to stock some of fashion’s biggest names including Armani, Ralph Lauren and Jil Sander through its boutiques centered around London’s South Molton Street. We discuss the value of supporting the next generation of designers and what she hopes to see at Texprint London 2012.

Browns is known as a champion of new designers. Why is it important to support new textile design graduates?  Talented people in all fields are born to create – it is a gift that they possess and it has to be expressed. Their talent contributes to the pleasures of life and it has to be supported, nurtured and respected. Textile graduates are no exception, their contribution to design cannot be underestimated.

Do you think textile designers are overshadowed by fashion designers because one creates a finished product and the other may be further along the supply chain?  I do believe that this is so. People generally do not consider what goes into a print or a weave, the thought, the skill, the inspiration and the love. This is no doubt because we all live our lives on a fast and superficial level. In the fashion world the media always focuses on the designer and end product when often the very thing that has made the collection strong is the textile design. You see this everywhere right now as colour and print are so in evidence.

Browns has selected the work of some of Texprint’s alumni – such as Clare Tough and Emma JShipley – what do you look for when you work with new designers, do you consider business know-how as well as creative flair?  I am always looking for excellence, for an individual point of view, also the energy and personality of the person behind the work is important – right energy and attitude counts for a lot.  A basic business knowledge is necessary but it can be learned and if not the artist should have someone beside them that they can trust with that knowledge to guide them through.

Why do British art and design schools produce such extraordinary talents in fashion and textiles – regardless of where they come from originally?  I think that our colleges in Britain have always nurtured experimentation – they are not afraid of the new, in fact they seek it and embrace it. Our tutors are all creative talents themselves and encourage students to reach out as far as they can. Today more than ever with so many foreign students the rich range of influences is even stronger with more and more diverse cultures bringing their creative force together under the umbrella of our colleges.  I have noticed and experienced that a creative person living here, and in London especially, can have the 'space' to explore their own individuality without being necessarily judged and this is not to be underestimated.

What advice would you give someone graduating in fashion and textile design this year?  Keep going and keep creating no matter what. The design fields are always hungry for good work.  Get as much experience as you can. Be happy in yourself above all.

As a special prize judge, what are you hoping to see in the work of the 24 designers? What excites you in textile design, is it use of technology, use of colour, texture, drawing skill or…?  It is all of the above. It is what speaks to me. I am hoping to be moved almost to tears, to be delighted and excited, to have an intuitive and instinctive response to a beautiful and special piece of work whether it is through an amazing technological breakthrough or simply a perfect piece of needlepoint, if the work has that X factor to make a mark and stand out then that is what I am looking for. I just don't want to be bored!

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TexSelect is a registered charity, entirely funded by the generous sponsorship of industry, by British charitable foundations, and by individuals connected to the industry. All believe wholeheartedly in supporting the next generation of textile design talent and in encouraging innovation and excellence.

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