Fashion Fringe 2011 Judging Panel from left to right: Claudia Schiffer, Roland Mouret, Bel Jacobs, Anne Pitcher, Colin McDowell & Angela Quaintrell
Wow! We’ve just got back from a VERY cosy little chat with Fashion Fringe judges, designer Roland Mouret and supermodel Claudia Schiffer to grill them all about the contest and a couple of other things that were on our minds. Fashion Fringe is an annual award, which gives young, up and coming fashion designers a boost into their chosen industry with catwalk sponsorship, business advice and, of course - free publicity.
Grazia Daily: SO! Can you tell us a little bit about what you’ve been doing today? Is Fashion Fringe like the X Factor for fashion designers or what is it really like?
Roland Mouret: Well, I’m NOT Simon [cringes]
Claudia Schiffer: [Giggles to self]
RM: No, well, what we’ve been doing is to try and define what we think is relevant [from all the entrants] for someone who is a creative person and someone who is starting out in the industry today.
CS: And it’s quite difficult because you are judging only from drawings and fabric swatches and their CV basically.
GD: And the ones that are successful later on will meet you and receive some kind of mentoring from you?
RM: They ‘ave to sleep with us first!
GD: They learn how to get ahead in the fashion business . . .
CS: That is just one of the ways!
GD to Roland: Is it true that you used to teach womenswear? How has that experience helped with this?
RM: I was a tutor for two years in Brighton. But I ‘ate teaching. I was so rude to the students. Which is the best way to learn. [shugs shoulders] I am French. It doesn’t help with this process because this one, we judge it more from the point of view of our own experience from life. I have my background in fashion design and Claudia has a lot of experience of the industry and it’s through that experience that we are able to look at the work of a young designer and decide whether they are someone who has a future in it or not. But it’s going to be difficult for them.
CS: Yes, it’s true. And also the emotion of it. I mean – some of the work we look at and think “oh my God it’s amazing” and others we are not so sure, and it has also got to be good so that you don’t forget it in a week’s time – you have to ask yourself – is it memorable?
GD: And then you’re giving someone a platform, you’re helping someone along their way!
RM: We are not ‘elping them. They have to make their own chance. We have got the easy part, all we have to do is choose the best one, they are the ones who have gone through all the hard work to get noticed.
GD to Claudia: Has your career as a model given you an insight into what makes good design?
CS: Well yes it has, but only because I have been in the business for such a long time. So I have seen everything. From really great designers to not so great designers to wearing the dress and saying ‘oh my God, who MADE this?’ - this is so bad kind of thing. So you learn. After a while you just know what is good and what’s going to be good quality, from the fabrics to the technical side to everything.
You know, I’ve been there in the fittings for the very best haute couture designers, like Karl Lagerfeld. I’ve been there from scratch, through the fittings, to the runway and then through to the finished product in the shop and I’ve done that so many times so yes, I think I do have a good idea.
GD: And does your own taste in clothes come through at one stage or another, or do you have to put that aside?
CS: No, no. You have to try and take it away.
RM: It’s not about us, it’s about them. So it’s the quality of the work not whether it’s something we like ourselves. You just have to look at it with your expertise gathered over years and with your hand on your heart say to yourself – do we think this person has what it takes to make it in the fashion industry? Some people are good and could be an amazing assistant or right hand, but they don’t have the talent to be a designer and then other people you can smell it. It jumps off the page and you can smell the ambition and determination to succeed.
GD: Roland, you’ve been through various stages of your career and you’ve had ups and downs. You’ve just recently started up in business again with a new Headquarters in London and your own name as your trademark once again. What advice would you give to a young designer who is just starting out?
RM: No regrets. Just go for it and don’t worry about anything. The worst moments in life can be the most amazing starting points for creativity. I have seen it in my own life and I have seen it in other peoples’ lives, or careers. Your creativity is your tool. SO whatever happens to you can use that as a tool to get you through.
CS: And raw talent as well of course! With great talent and amazing passion you can get through anything!
GD: Well it’s nearly time to finish – Claudia, can you recommend us a good book to read this summer?
CS: OK. I like reading biographies the best and at the moment I like reading about artists and art dealers and I’ve just been reading one about a chap called Ambroise Vollard. So I would recommend that!
Thank you very much chaps – you’ve been most insightful.
AND! The 11 winners are (in alphabetical order):
- Aidan Drago
- Bethan Juliff
- Danielle Jade Windsor
- Fyodor Golan
- Heidi Leung
- Jiyun Lapthorne
- Kimberley Giacomelli
- Liz Black
- Nabil El-Naya
- Nika Urbas
- Sam Parsons
Well done one and all and why not check out www.fashionfringe.co.uk/event for more information
- Naomi Attwood