22 September 2009

Donatella crowns the new fashion fringe winners!

Donatella with the winners of Fashion Fringe

Monday was a stellar day for fashion royalty at London Fashion Week. Not only did Anna Wintour arrive at the shows for the first time since 2007, but Donatella Versace flew in to award the £100k prize to the 2009 winners of Fashion Fringe, the annual showcase to uncover new design talent. Sitting in the front row to watch catwalk presentations by the four finalists, Donatella, Fashion Fringe’s current chairperson, was looking beyond glamorous – showing off a tiny hand-span waist in a skin-tight black dress, worn with to-die-for Versus accessories studded with giant Swarovski crystals by her protégé Christopher Kane. But don’t assume Donatella is just a figurehead for the contest. FF founder and respected fashion commentator Colin McDowell is happy to point out that not only did Versace chair the judging panel (which also included Grazia’s style director Paula Reed) but ‘she takes the finalists to Italy to see her show, she has a lot of involvement but she just doesn’t want to make a big deal of it. It was the same with Tom [Ford – the previous FF chairman]. Neither of them "do" being a figurehead. They do it because they believe in this, and they do it for free. Donatella pays to fly herself over. And she has come over maybe three times before this event, and when you consider how busy she is…’ And it seems Donatella’s time was well spent. The winners are Jenny Holmes and Dimitris Theocharidis of label Jena Theo, who met while studying at the London College of Fashion in 2002. Their bold cut-out panels, contrasted with extravagantly-swaggered harem pants and pirate blouses, call to mind early ’80s new romanticism, in luxurious fabrics like cashmere jersey and crepe silks. Holmes said, ‘Our customer is a creative woman who wants to wear something different, to wrap them and make them her own, she can wear our clothes in different ways. She is an individual who wants to express her own style.’ Yesterday wasn’t the first time they had met Donatella, who spent time with all the finalists leading up to the awards. Earlier in the year, she had flown the pair out to see her menswear show. ‘We also went to her studio and met all her designers – so she had asked her people to look after us as well, it was very exciting for us,’ said Theocharidis. ‘I mean, it’s Donatella Versace!’ Quite.


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