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Texprint 2017: Notebook from London

09 July 2017 by Roger Tredre

The story of Texprint London 2017: we gathered reflections from designers, judges and industry guests at Chelsea College of Arts.

London was at its best. The sun was shining, Wimbledon was underway, and a new generation of designers were showing their work at Texprint’s London preview (July 5–6) at Chelsea College of Arts.

It took 20 minutes for one of that new generation, Maddie Whalley, a graduate from Leeds College of Art, to see her career begin. A leading fashion retail brand placed an order before 9am on the first day – quite possibly a record.

Busy start to Texprint London

These two days in the first week of July are when the cream of UK-educated design talent exhibit their work to the textile industry, including recruiters and talent spotters.

Many of the young designers were informed that they had been selected for Texprint while attending the New Designers show with their universities in London in June. When Texprint Creative Director Peter Ring-Lefevre phoned them with the good news, the event had erupted with excitement. “I was totally gobsmacked,” said Nicola Rowe, who studied Textiles & Surface Design at Cleveland College of Art & Design. “All my tutors and friends were there – what a moment!”

Loughborough University has had particular reason to celebrate this year with an unprecedented four graduate designers selected for Texprint: Angelica Chrysanthou, Rosie Moorman,  Sophie Harrison and Eve Gibson. And the first three of the quartet have been shortlisted for Texprint awards to be announced in September. Among this galaxy of Loughborough talent, Sophie Harrison’s textiles for automotive interiors have attracted plenty of attention, not least because they highlight the sheer diversity of work on display at Texprint.

Judge Elsa May, Product Manager Fashion of Première Vision, with designer Lucy Day

The substantial preparatory work behind Texprint is often overlooked. Nearly 200 young designers, all graduating from BA and MA textiles and textiles-related courses the length and breadth of the UK, were interviewed through June. Then Ring-Lefevre and his colleagues whittled down the list to just 24 names, who are sponsored to show at the Texprint Preview in Chelsea and at Première Vision Designs in Paris in September.

The day before the London previews, a panel of judges gathered to select the Texprint award winners from the 24 names on display. The awards cover four categories – Fashion, Interiors, Colour and Pattern – with the winners announced in Paris on September 19.

Texprint was delighted to welcome among this year’s judges the new design director of Amazon, Karen Peacock (previously head of design for womenswear at Marks & Spencer). Peacock said: “I’m thrilled to see the new generation of designers – so much imagination and creative energy.”

Judge Karen Peacock, Design Director Amazon Fashion, reviews work

Also judging were Elsa May, Product Manager Fashion of Première Vision; veteran industry consultant Eric Musgrave; and interior designer Guy Goodfellow and his creative director Jaine McCormack. And gatecrashing the judging process was Musgrave’s whippet Betsey, a true connoisseur of textile talent (or so her owner claimed).

Judges Jaine McCormack and Guy Goodfellow

Peter Ring-Lefevre, now in his 15th year as Creative Director of Texprint, noted a strong display of contemporary colour from this year’s designers, and a genderless aspect with fabrics working for both menswear and womenswear. He also identified an impressive contribution from woven designers as well as big-scale prints and textiles created for the luxe sports fashion, inspired by product and auto design.

Visitors were full of enthusiasm for the sparkling work on display. Catherine Scorey, Womenswear Director of Ted Baker, said the work was “really inspiring with very high standards and very diverse.” Sophie Chappell, Global Head of Product Development at Atelier Swarovski, agreed: “I think the talent is absolutely amazing – I’m blown away by these youngsters.”

Designer Abigail Barnes shows her work to Sophie Chappell, Global Head of Product Development at Atelier Swarovski

Dominic Lowe, a long-term sponsor of Texprint through the Sanderson Art in Industry Trust, added: “The breadth of creativity and innovation in textiles is so impressive. This year the work has been particularly strong on colour. And it’s good to see how articulate and confident the designers are.”

Dominic Lowe (Sanderson Art in Industry Trust) looks at the work of designer Louise Williams

Industry experts noted that some of the most promising work was not in the display, but tucked away in a secondary presentation room. Texprint judges advised designers to reconsider the full potential of their work in preparation for the trip to Paris this September.

The importance of social media for marketing was another prominent theme this year, highlighted by the presence of a Texprint social media team at the event. Gill Gledhill, founder of communication and marketing agency GGHQ, commented: “Social media is vitally important in the way it provides instant access to potential new markets.”

The Texprint designers were also briefed on the business aspects of setting up a business and selling their work. Now  they have just a couple of months to prepare for their next big moment in the spotlight. Paris, here they come!

* The short-listed designers for this year’s four Texprint awards are: Fashion – Kate Connell, Charlotte Des’Ascoyne, Olivia Qi; Interiors – Lucy Day, Julia Liddell, Hayley McCrirrick; Colour – Roberta Fox, Sarah Maybank, Rosie Moorman; Pattern – Angelica Chrysanthou, Sophie Harrison, Helen Loft.

Short listed designers with judges: from left - Sarah Maybank, Julia Lidell, Helen Loft, Olivia Qi, Charlotte Des'Ascoyne, Jaine McCormack (judge), Guy Goodfellow (judge), Elsa May (judge), Eric Musgrave (judge), Karen Peacock (judge), Angelica Chrysanthou, Sophie Harrison, Kate Connell, Lucy Day, Rosie Moorman, Hayley McCrirrick, Roberta Fox

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