Introducing fashion's NEWEST talents

23 January 2009


Thanks to Italian fashion giant MaxMara, some exciting new design talent was hatched in Mayfair last night. Remember these names: Lindsay Marsh, Sian Lendrum and Catherine Gerard. The three winners of the MaxMara Womenswear Design Prize in collaboration with the British Fashion Council haven't even graduated from college yet and already they are launched on a glittering career path. The standard was impressive. Ludovica Maramotti from the MaxMara family, Laura Lusuardi and Ian Griffiths from the MaxMara design team, Anne Tyrell of the British Fashion Council, Hilary Alexander, fashion editor of the Daily Telegraph and Grazia's own style director Paula Reed, were locked in a room for hours with the portfolios of 10 finalists until a winner could be found. But in the end it was Lindsay Marsh's extraordinarily cutting edge, yet startlingly simple knitwear that won universal praise. ‘Her work is deceptively simple. But if you look closely, its construction is mesmerising,' said Ian Griffiths, himself an ex RCA student who has worked at the MaxMara design studio for 22 years. ‘The fantastic thing is that it's also perfectly easily achievable with our technology.' The students were selected from fashion courses nationwide and tasked with developing a clothing range of eight to 10 looks which reflect what a contemporary MaxMara customer would want to wear. With nine ranges to inspire them, they could choose to focus on whichever one they wanted: the elegant main line, the younger Sportmax range, the Marina Rinaldi collection for larger sizes or the free spirited Max & Co. Sian Lendrum's airy, sculptural tailoring and intriguing fabric treatments impressed everyone. While Catherine Gerard's brilliant coats based on ancient armour but using the softest modern materials made hers a standout collection. In addition to a cash prize for the top three winners and their colleges, Lindsay, Sian and Catherine will spend the summer in Reggio Emilia in Italy for a placement in the famous MaxMara design studio, former workplace of so many fashion luminaries from Montana to Karl Lagerfeld. No doubt they'll emerge from it even stronger fashion forces coming to a catwalk near you soon...

- Paula Reed



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