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WGSN report: Texprint 2015 Designers

30 July 2015 by Editor

WGSN is a foundation sponsor of Texprint and believes strongly in the value and importance of supporting emerging creative talent. Its comprehensive report, reproduced below, was written and created by Zana Ajvazi, a Texprint alumna from 2014, who joined WGSN as an intern working with their Colour, Materials & Textiles team, and is now a full-time member of staff.  The report highlights four disciplines - WEAVE, MIXED MEDIA, PRINT and KNIT.

Zana attended Texprint London, the first showing of this year’s designers providing an opportunity for sponsors, press and industry guests to view and discuss individual projects ahead of the main Texprint presentation at Première Vision Designs, Paris, September 15-17.
































Our thanks to WGSN - wgsn.com

Texprint 2015: Notebook from London

06 July 2015 by Roger Tredre

2015 judge Sarah Lowry (Aston Martin Lagonda) reviews the work of designer Nicola Costello

Here’s the inside story of Texprint London 2015, from the interview process to show time at the annual exhibition.

Texprint’s London preview was staged during the hottest weather in Britain in many a long year – the sun was truly shining on Texprint 2015.

The 24 young talents chosen for Texprint every year are selected from designers graduating from textiles courses at UK universities and colleges. The methodical and rigorous interview process is time-consuming but hugely beneficial to the young designers, even those who don’t make the final cut. Amy Bairstow, from Bradford, who was one of the final 24, says: “The interview was so helpful, like a tutorial. I thought at the time that whatever happens, it’s been a blessing already.”

Interview panel: Tessa Birch (Liberty Arts Fabrics), Sandy MacLennan (East Central Studio), Joanna Bowring (Texprint), Peter Westcott (Westcott Studio), Peter Ring-Lefevre (Texprint) and interviewee

Texprint creative director Peter Ring-Lefevre and panels of industry professionals interview 200 designers, proposed by their colleges, over a period of four weeks. From the final 24 designers, a panel of distinguished judges selects the Texprint award winners in four categories: Fashion, Interiors, Colour, Pattern.  The shortlist was announced on June 30, but the winners are not revealed until Première Vision on September 16 (the Texprint designers exhibit at Première Vision Designs, the specialist design show formerly titled Indigo, that sits within the main PV and is a major sponsor of Texprint).

Sarah Lowry (Aston Martin Lagonda) with designer Anja Alexandersdottir

On the hot, humid last day of June, the judges meet at the Texprint London showcase held at Chelsea College of Arts to review the designers’ work. Watching them at work and then in discussion is fascinating. For each award category, the judges take it in turns to give their thoughts and highlight a few names. Sarah Lowry, colour & materials designer at Aston Martin Lagonda, starts off, confident and assured in her observations, with precisely observed comments that appreciate the degree of research and thought that has gone into the work on display.

Julie Hall (Bedeck) talks with designer Jessica Pickard

She’s followed by Julie Hall, head of design at Bedeck, which specialises in textiles for bedding and bathroom. Hall has a strong eye for colour and admires simple but sophisticated work. She also has a new special Bedeck award to consider.

Then, joining the judges from Paris, there’s the very experienced Ariane Bigot, associate fashion director of Pascaline Wilhelm, working directly with Première Vision. She has an encyclopaedic knowledge of work on display at PV in previous years to draw on for reference and comparison.

Ariane Bigot (Première Vision) reviews the work of Alex Pengelly

And finally it is the turn of couturier Nicholas Oakwell – one of London’s most in-demand designers – always warm and generous in his judgements, looking debonair and elegant in suit and tie on even this sweltering day.

Nicholas Oakwell (Nicholas Oakwell Couture) talks with designer Bryony Bushe

The enthusiasm of the judges for the designers’ work is palpable. The complementary adjectives pile up: beautiful, powerful, intelligent, strong, sophisticated, outstanding, refined – even “extraordinaire”. A sketchbook full of “amazing” ideas is highlighted. A judge nips back to the Texprint stands to review again one of the designers. The afternoon seems to flash by; steadily, agreement is reached – with no raised voices or fisticuffs!

Peter Ring-Lefevre, creative director of Texprint, believes this year’s group of young designers is pleasingly well balanced. “Some years, print can tend to dominate, but there is slightly less print and mixed media for 2015. Knitwear, for example, is strong, and there is interesting embroidery.”

Ring-Lefevre has one slight concern about the impact of the internet and social media – are these new omnipresent influences affecting the creative process negatively? “It’s a big talking point. The concern is that there may be less free-spirited thinking when you are being constantly bombarded by the internet.”

24 Texprint 2015 designers with Texprint management team

The following day, July 1, is even warmer outside, but the Texprint exhibition space in Chelsea’s Triangle building, is pleasantly cool. The guest list for the early morning VIP breakfast is a Who’s Who of the textile industry.

Professor Jane Rapley, Honorary Trustee of Texprint Council, is an early arrival. “It’s really interesting talking to individual designers,” she says. “Some are very switched on and well informed, while some still need some additional guidance. That’s where Texprint plays such an essential role in preparing the designers for the switch from college.”

Andrea Ferrero, Alfredo Marengo and Louise Somers (all Miroglio) review the work of designer Emma McCluskey

A first-time visitor is Alfredo Marengo, commercial director of Italy’s Miroglio Textile. “It’s really interesting to see lots of talent. Not everyone is right for us, but we are focusing on two or three who have the skills and are already full of potential.”

Designer Stephanie Rolph talks with Andrew Croll and Marie Parsons (both Nike)

Influential print designer Sarah Campbell, who judged Texprint in 2014, says: “The designers are so articulate about their work. They’ve had such an opportunity to experiment – I’m feeling rather envious.”

Designer Ciaran Moore talks with Chiara Pozzi (Pozzi Como) and Federico Colombo (Penn Italia)

In many cases, the designers find out they’ve been selected for Texprint only days before the London show, so many of them are still adjusting to their success. Nicola Costello, a weaver from the University of Huddersfield, says: “I couldn’t stop shaking – I didn’t believe it.”

Sandy Verdon (Hobbs), centre, and team review work

The shaking is over. These designers have earned their place in the spotlight. And the show now moves on to Paris in September.

James Crockatt, Prime Warden of the Worshipful Company of Dyers, an important supporter of Texprint, puts the work of Texprint in context: “One of the constant conundrums is how to bridge the gap from any creative degree to the real world. At the end of the course, you have to earn a living.” And that’s exactly why Texprint exists.

Texprint 2015 designers: Anja Alexandersdottir, Amy Bairstow, Amy Bennett, Emma Brooks, Bryony Bushe, Áine Byrne, Shivani Chavda, Nicola Costello, Emily Grieves, Yasmin Hussain, Jessica Leclere, Emily Maddox, Emma McCluskey, Ciaran Moore, Ellie Pashley, Alex Pengelly, Jessica Pickard, Joanna Robins, Stephanie Rolph, Alice Selwood, Richard Szuman, Hanna Vinlöf Nylén, Rozanna Walecki, Gilles Werbrouck.

Stephanie Binoist (Première Vision) reviews work

Peter Westcott (Westcott Studio) talks with designer Emma McCluskey

Designer Shivani Chavda shows her work to Edwina Ehrman (V&A Museum)

Designer Emily Grieves shows her work to Lorenze Mosca (Ratti)

Katie Dominy (Arts Thread) talks with designer Alice Selwood

Alumna display: Emma Sewell (alumna 1990) of Wallace Sewell

Meet the sponsor: Carla Buzasi, Global Chief Content Officer, WGSN

30 June 2015 by Sarah Waldron

WGSN Global Chief Content Officer Carla Buzasi is in charge of the world’s leading fashion trends service. Sarah Waldron asked her about WGSN’s links with education and young designers.

WGSN, a foundation sponsor of Texprint, changed the fashion trends world forever back in 1998 when it launched its online service on the back of the first dot.com boom.

Founded in London, the service tapped into the growing demand from fashion retailers for trend information, not least because of the rapid growth of so-called ‘fast fashion’, driven by Spanish retailer Zara.

Right from the beginning, WGSN understood that to build its market in the long-term, it needed to develop strong links with education. A time-delayed version of its website was created especially for students. Later, the full professional website was made available to universities too.

Carla with WGSN team members

Texprint alumni have benefited from recognition from WGSN. Alumna Emma J Shipleyis a past winner of the WGSN Graduate Fashion Week Emerging Brand award, while other Texprint designers, including jewellery maker Lily Kamper, have also been nominated in the same category.

The WGSN link with Texprint has been long-term, with Helen Palmer, WGSN Director of Knitwear, Materials & Textiles, a regular interviewer on Texprint panels, helping us to search out the next generation of design talent. Another key Texprint supporter is Catriona McNab, Chief Creative Officer, who heads WGSN’s trends team.

WGSN has established a strong tradition of identifying design and journalistic talent at universities in the UK and elsewhere as it has built its content team into the dominant force it is today in fashion trends. Now part of Top Right Group, WGSN includes a growing emphasis on retail analytics as well as continuing to support fashion companies in the creative process of developing on-trend designs.

Carla Buzasi joined WGSN in 2014 in the newly created role of Global Chief Content Officer. She made her name by launching the UK version of The Huffington Post news site and growing it rapidly to 8 million monthly unique users. She is also a former editor of Marie Claire online and former deputy editor of Condé Nast’s Glamour.com.

How does WGSN work with universities?

It’s very much about sending our experts out to give advice, to mentor and help with the different colleges and universities. We also encourage students, we run competitions for them to send in their designs, and we feature them on the site in the fashion section. So, it's a two-way relationship. We go in, we help, we mentor, we support, then we give them a platform to showcase their designs.

My team directors go to lots of universities and colleges. I've got guest lecturers within my team, people who go out on an ad hoc basis. We run internships. We often supply free subscriptions to students as well, so they get access to all of the expertise that big brands are paying lots of money for.

It’s really important to me that I've got a stream of young talent coming into the business. I think that internships are really important – that's been important to me throughout my career, it’s the best way that we can do it. But [it’s also about] inviting people to the presentations that we do, inviting people to listen to our experts and learn really valuable information that will help them, whether they’re at a student stage or whether they’re just starting out in their career.

Does WGSN recruit direct from design courses for its own staff?

We don’t go out to recruit directly from design courses, but we do have people come directly to us. They've usually gone and had a few work placements. We have a whole range of different skillsets within the team. Most of the people we employ have been at design houses, but we're also not just hiring designers. We've got analysts, we've got journalists, we've got editors.

There isn’t one path into WGSN, because we're looking for such different skills across all different directories – all the different areas that we catch.

WGSN has always had strong links with education. Has that been important to its success – and why?

I think young graduates coming out of our fashion colleges and universities need as much support as they can get – especially on the business and commercial side. That's where Texprint feeds in. But as an organisation in this industry, it’s our responsibility as well to encourage and nurture new talent, and that's where our partnership with Texprint comes into play.

It does benefit us. It's a way of talking about what we do, it's a way of talking about what’s important to us. I think the fashion world is a really large world, but it’s a really small one as well. If we are helping in any way to bring new talent through, then that is going to benefit us in the future.

Meet the judges: Ariane Bigot, associate fashion director of Première Vision Paris

22 June 2015 by Roger Tredre

For the past 15 years, Ariane Bigot, associate fashion director of Pascaline Wilhelm, has worked directly with Première Vision.  Now she brings her wealth of experience to the task of judging the award winners at Texprint 2015.

Première Vision Paris – the world leader event for fashion industry professionals– is held twice yearly in the French capital and needs no introduction. Known to most people in the business simply as PV, it’s the must-see event of the year for anyone in the fashion and textile business.

Première Vision Designs, the specialist design show formerly titled Indigo, sits within the main PV and is a long-running major sponsor of Texprint.

Première Visions Designs, February 2015

A highlight of the year for Texprint designers is the chance to exhibit at Première Vision Designs in September (specifically September 15–17 this year). This opportunity has launched the careers of many generations of designers, some of whom return to PV later with their own studios.

PV is also where the Texprint Awards presentation is held, so it’s a key part of the calendar for Texprint – the place where Texprint interlinks with the rest of the international industry.

Ariane Bigot is very familiar with Texprint’s strong record for discovering design talent. She has worked closely with fashion director Pascaline Wilhelm since 2000 on the creative direction of PV.

She studied textiles at ENSCI-ANAT, and later studied in England at the University of Derby. Before joining the PV creative team, she worked at Galeries Lafayette for two years and Paris-based trend forecasters Peclers for six years.

Ariane with Pascaline Wilhelm and the panel judging the PV Awards (including Professor Clare Johnston RCA, centre)

Tell us about your personal connections with the UK.

I spent six months studying in Derby. I really liked the way of teaching art and fine art in the UK. I had the feeling that the pedagogy pushes students to explore their own creativity, to look for their own style with good technical support from the teachers. I also go to London for art exhibitions and shopping.

Professionally, I have some contacts with British textile mills exhibiting at Première Vision Fabrics. Personally, I have a friend teaching weaving in England – and a brother living in Cardiff for 17 years; he’s a researcher, a project engineer at Cardiff University.

Please explain how the Fashion Team at PV works, and what your work involves.

The fashion team is led by Pascaline Wilhelm, who manages all Première Vision Fashion information and organises new projects. She has an overview of each branch of Première Vision – Yarns, Design, Fabrics, Accessories, Leather, Manufacturing, Denim, in order to guarantee the coherence and specific relevance of fashion and trend information. In our team, we always share projects and ideas. Each member has specific missions, depending on their specific specialities. To be an effective team, we have to be able to use our creative process in order to serve the creativity of others – firstly, using the fashion information dedicated to the exhibitors, and secondly, using tools and information prepared for the buyers and visitors. The quality of this information comes from our capacity to share ideas, different points of view and most of all, working as a united group. My specific projects are focused on Première Vision Fabrics, on trends information, and on the materials and patterns selections for the forums. The fabrics and patterns we receive each season are really great starting points for our exchange.

Ariane with members of the PV team

After working at PV for 15 years, you must have seen a great deal of Texprint designers’ work?

Yes, it's always a fresh and inspiring moment. Full of ideas, enriched with many different aesthetic points of view and graphic experimentations.

How important are organisations such as Texprint in your view?

In our sector, young fashion and textile designers and students are the players of tomorrow. Promoting the meeting between them and the industry is a key for our future. Organisations such as Texprint are like a breeding ground for them to grow – a springboard for young creative people. 

What do you look for when you are judging a design award?

Creativity, originality, boldness, aesthetic commitment, a good colouristic approach, search for meaning, graphic dexterity.

How – and where – do you find creative inspiration for your own work?

Everywhere: in art, design, fashion, cinema, web, in street art and daily life, and also in exchanges with textile and fashion experts during the creative workshops organized by Première Vision. Also in all the fabrics and patterns samples that we receive each season from the exhibitors of Première Vision. Fabrics and designs collections continue to surprise me over the past 15 years – each season I'm so impressed by the creativity of the textile industry participating in our salons.

Meet the judges: Sarah Lowry, colour & materials designer at Aston Martin Lagonda

16 June 2015 by Roger Tredre

Sarah Lowry sitting in a bespoke Aston Martin DB9 Volante Q

We talk to Texprint judge Sarah Lowry, colour & materials designer at luxury British sports car manufacturer Aston Martin Lagonda.

The distinguished judging line-up for Texprint 2015 includes designers from many different categories. It’s great to welcome Sarah Lowry from the automotive sector this year.

As colour & materials designer at Aston Martin Lagonda, she has a demanding, varied job that requires a complex set of creative skills.

How did you start out professionally?

Having studied for a masters in woven textiles at the Royal College of Art, a group of us were awarded funding by the John Dunsmore Travel Scholarship to work with women in rural Nepal weaving with nettle fibre. I have always loved making products, and so back in the UK I was keen to get experience in manufacturing and was lucky enough to get a job as the carpet designer at Botany Weaving Mill, Dublin, which produces textiles for the airline industry. From there I went to work as a C+M designer for the airline industry at JPA Design, London.

Were you always interested in the auto industry?

I was always interested in materials, design and process. These passions are what naturally brought me to automotive after working as a C+M designer in the airline industry.

What are the specific challenges of designing for Aston Martin?

Our customers expect the very highest quality materials and we have to ensure the car looks fantastic, whilst still meeting our program timing, the specific industry testing standards and not forgetting production feasibility. It’s a challenge!

How important is it for you (and Texprint of course) to support the next generation of designers?

It is hugely important. At Aston Martin we offer internships, but for me it is more than that. The industry always needs fresh ideas and outlooks. Our next generation consistently bring these ­– and we will always need them.

What do you look for in great design?

In great design I look for something that does one or more of the following: introduces new techniques and processes, brings people together, creates more sustainable manufacturing methods or encourages us to question what we thought we already knew.

Why is the UK educational system so good at producing design talent?

We are an island and as a nation I think we are very proud of our individuality, striving to be different. We attract people from all over the world to our art colleges. This results in our students taking inspiration from many different cultures. The UK colleges are a melting point of ideas and determination to stand out from the crowd.

Can you explain the parameters of your job? 

In the C+M Design department we develop the colour and material strategy for specific programs and for the cross car line material offerings. Among many, this includes designing materials such as leather, quilting, veneers, exterior paints and metal finishes. In order to deliver our designs we liaise with external suppliers. We also work with different internal departments to make sure we are aligned with the exterior and interior design, product marketing and program timing. All this  is while making sure we are up to date with the latest trends.

Bespoke Aston Martin DB9 produced by the Aston Martin Q team

What's a typical day like for you?

One of the elements I love about my work is that there is not a typical day. Just to give an idea, one day last week involved tasks such as approving sample colours, creating a spec for marketing cars, reviewing the gloss level requirements of a finish with the quality department, reviewing the colour strategy for an engine bay and meeting with a supplier to discuss their latest developments.

Where do you find your inspiration?

When I was studying I often got the best ideas for a new sample when I was weaving other samples, when I wasn’t looking for inspiration. I find inspiration in the gaps, those moments that we almost do not notice.

Meet the judges: Nicholas Oakwell of Nicholas Oakwell Couture

11 June 2015 by Sarah Waldron

Couturier Nicholas Oakwell talks textiles, embellishment and designing with Sarah Waldron.  Nicholas joins the Texprint 2015 judging panel end June to select this year's prize winners.

If Charles Frederick Worth was around now, I'm sure he'd be using the latest technology to build beautiful gowns. It's a balance of using technology but with some traditional disciplines at the same time. For me, that's what couture is about now. 

Texprint is so important because it’s developing textile designers and printers and every type of embellishment onto fabrics. I am so inspired by the fabrics. In the couture world, clients are always looking for exquisite fabrics, for embellishment, beading, hand painting – everything. They don't want run-of-the-mill.

I have a team of embellishment designers and they don't just do embellishment. They do printing, weaving, every type of possible fabrication. I give them an inspiration and they come back and show me visuals and then start developing all the different weaving and print ideas and beading and embroidery ideas. I see something and I go yes, yes, yes, and then I say how it all works together.

And then there’s the catwalk. There are so many layers to a catwalk presentation, just like making a gown. I'm like a conductor of an orchestra. I'm using all these different elements. It's about combining them and bringing them to their best, hopefully.

Nicholas Oakwell couture

If you look at every dress in my Panthère collection, they all have panther spots in different sizes, in different fabrications. We appliqued fur spots to make the leopard spots, printed it onto fur, beaded it in beads, did it in sequins but stacked sideways instead of lying flat. We did so many different types of embellishments. We printed it, for linings too. Sometimes you don't see the fabrics on the inside. For me, couture dresses are not how you look – it's how you feel. So when you put the dress on and you're feeling absolutely beautiful in it, you just radiate it.

I think there's something very luxurious about embellishment. Sometimes it doesn't photograph well, but it's not really about the picture – it's actually for the wearer, who can see the beauty in the workmanship. When people come into our store and see the collection, the exquisite workmanship stops them in their tracks.

Nicholas Oakwell - Flower collection spring/summer 2014

My Flower collection last summer was about using traditional style but modern fabrics. I found a moiré fabric that used a nylon thread. It was so beautiful to see how it gave a moiré effect just by the light shining on it. What gave it modernity was the fabric and the construction. We don't use fabric just on the outside of the garment, but also on the inside. We were using modern crinolines, removing all the horsehair, canvas, petticoats, tulle and netting. We had this sort of nylon mesh – it's the only way that I can describe it – that gave the construction a form. Making it modern, modern, modern.

I could spend hours in Première Vision or the big shows just looking at the fabrics and the technology. I like seeing how a designer uses materials and comes up with ideas.

Abigail Gardiner [2011 Texprint alumma and formerly at Nicholas Oakwell Couture] was my first embellishment textile designer. She came as an intern and then on the sponsorship programme, working with me for two or three years. Abigail took me to the Première Vision Texprint village for the first time. I was really inspired. It opened my eyes. I don't use a lot of print, but since then we’ve used it more.

Nicholas Oakwell couture

Most of our interns are textile designers and embellishment designers. They see how their idea of some type of embellishment can translate into a garment. I know some of the colleges are getting the fashion designers working with the textile designers. That is really important because you've got to work together as a team. There's no point in being a very creative textile designer and coming up with these wacky designs. Where's the customer? Where's the user? How is the designer going to relate that to a garment or furniture or whatever it may be? How can it be used? You've got to consider that as a designer. Otherwise your designs won't get purchased and you won't be a designer anymore. Collaboration is vital.

I remember being an intern myself. I did the whole hat collection for a runway show back in the 1980s. When someone gives you responsibility, you really grow up. I did another internship and I was shoved into a basement receiving boxes of knitwear, having to sit down and pack and steam them, put them onto hangers and sort out the kimballing, the little swing tickets and stuff. Now, when I bring people on board for internships, I always want to meet them and talk to them beforehand. I want to make sure they get something from it. I always like to find people who are really interested, and go out and do it.

I will enjoy the judging at this year’s Texprint. What am I looking for? The creativity, absolutely. That goes without saying. It doesn't have to use every type of medium – you can grab anything. If you're a weaver, you're a weaver. If you're an embellisher, you're an embellisher. If you print, you print. There's no point trying to go across all media, is there? But also understanding how that can translate into something that is going to be used.

And loving it really. I remember when I was a student, I thought, ‘Oh, I don't want to live and breathe fashion’, but actually you do. It overtakes you. That’s not a bad thing. Live and breathe it.

Note: A unique international festival celebrating British business creativity and innovation took place in Shanghai earlier this year. Items on display included a stunning gown (image below) created by Nicholas Oakwell Couture, hand embellished with some 200,000 ostrich feathers by a team of specialist embroiderers from the Royal School of Needlework.

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