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Meet the judges: womenswear designer and consultant Madeleine Press

05 September 2013 by

Texprint’s selection process is dependent on the generosity of industry members who take a day out of their work schedules to give professional guidance to the new designers under scrutiny for a coveted place on the mentoring programme. The same is true of the prize judges who spend an intense afternoon reviewing the work and interviewing the 24 designers who are in line to receive one of Texprint’s four awards for Body, Space, Colour and Pattern. Texprint was delighted that womenswear designer and consultant Madeleine Press was able to join the prize judging panel this year.

“Texprint is a great launch pad for new designers as they emerge from college - this time is both daunting and exciting for them. They will meet a broad selection of industry professionals who will view and talk honestly with them about their work. It is a great opportunity to have that experience before they go into the workplace and have to explain themselves,” says Madeleine. “It gives them a competitive edge, to not only compare themselves against their peers at college, but with the cream of the crop. The selected designers also have the opportunity to show at Indigo / Première Vision - to have that experience is amazing.”

Madeleine reviewing the designers' work

Madeleine brought to the judging process her commercial nous and an expert eye: known as a versatile womenswear designer with a deep technical understanding, she has also been regularly sought after as a knitwear specialist. Trained in Fashion Design with a print specialism at Ravensbourne, Madeleine has created women’s ready-to-wear collections, outerwear and denim lines, but is actually completely self-taught in knit design. “I spent an enormous amount of time in factories to learn what I needed to know. I come at it thinking, ‘what techniques can I use to create the garment I want?’ rather than just making a garment with two arms.”

On leaving college, she says: “The first bit of mass manufacturing I did was for an Elle reader offer, I had to source and arrange production of 500 skirts. I quickly became used to working on a big scale.”

Since then, Madeleine has had a wholesale brand, Press & Bastyan, which became a retail chain, and then her own eponymous womenswear designer brand, Madeleine Press that was a regular exhibitor at London, Paris and New York Fashion Weeks. She has worked as a consultant designer for brands from the UK to Japan, including John Smedley, Lamberto Losani, Daks, Onward and Sazaby League.

She brought to the judging panel a very clear view on the practicalities of textile design: “Whatever the textile is, whether for furnishing or clothing, it has an end use. In college you are free to design without commercial restraint, which I think is great. When you are conceptualising something and starting on a project you should be free,” she explains. “Then it is important to understand how to channel those ideas into a product that is right for its end use - what it’s going to look like once it’s in a garment or as a piece of furnishing. If it’s in a piece of furnishing you have even greater longevity to think about than fast fashion or designer product.”

As a knitwear designer, she considers the placement of stitch, seams and colour in the garment to be of paramount importance and something she considered when judging. “You have to think about how it will look wrapped around the body. I was looking for people who had an awareness of that,” she says. “In the commercial world if you have an understanding of that to start with you will have a heads-up over someone else. I’ve been running my own businesses for 20 years and every penny I’ve spent on my own business has to turn to profit. In the commercial world everything has to work.”

What advice did you receive when you were starting in business that you would like pass on? “The main thing I would share is something my parents told me: do everything with your eyes wide open, don’t narrow your options too quickly. Do something that scares you, as well. You have to allow yourself to take risks and jump in. And I think you need to do everything with a smile and say ‘thank you’.”

Thank you Madeleine!

The 2013 judges with all the designers


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