Stephanie Kitchen for Suitcase

And the winner for the FAD ’13 fashion design competition is… Stephanie Kitchen from Bath Spa University. The 13th annual catwalk show, in collaboration Fashion Scout and London Fashion Week, in no way lived up to the ‘unlucky thirteen’ superstition. The show turned out to be an extremely sophisticated affair, without any indication that the 15 designers are all undergraduate fashion design students. I think anybody who was there would agree that it was an inspiring spectacle of design talent and innovative concepts that truly deserved to be recognised and showcased.

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So the winner of the event, who Hilary Alexander described as having ‘an outstanding concept and commercial appeal’ was Stephanie Kitchen, from Bath Spa University. The good old-fashioned bicycle, with a subtext of sustaining the environment and promoting a healthy lifestyle (and looking amazing) inspired her collection. The two outfits consisted of two lightweight jackets, amalgamating a range of materials, two very funky striped and paneled leggings, and her feature piece, 3D printed bicycle glasses, which are the silhouette of a bicycle frame! This is all done on a camo infused colour palette of greens, browns, black and silver.

After being visibly shocked at winning the competition, a speechless Stephanie gave a genuine display of disbelief, managing to just about express her thanks and explain how she was ‘just really inspired by the brief’. I caught up with her after she had regained her voice and her success was beginning to sink in.

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Congratulations! So I take it you weren’t expecting to be crowned as the winner tonight?

No! I didn’t even think I’d be picked for the final, let alone this. I hadn’t even thought about winning, which was why I didn’t know what to say when the mic was in front of me!

So what was the inspiration behind the bicycles?

It’s all about cycling and the popularity of cycle wear. Sportswear is what I want to do and I’m really into sports myself. I cycle, run marathons and mountain climbing in my spare time so it’s really marrying the two together. We used recycled inner tubes for the details such as the binding and the panels. It was very hard to sew as obviously inner tubes are designed to be puncture proof!

How will this competition help you after you graduate?

It means I have a guaranteed industry placement afterwards, and I will receive funding too. I think I know where but it’s not fully confirmed at the moment, but it’s a big reassurance to be able to finish university with somewhere to go to straight away.

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The rest of the show was a wave of completely different styles and inspirations from the remaining 14 candidates’ collections, which are impossible to draw comparisons to one another. There was everything from chiffon to fur to pom poms, leather and tweed, and prints ranging from sunsets, cars, floral, zebra and African. The only notion of youth that came from the show was the fresh approach towards design, which was exciting, daring and individual. I’ve never been so enticed by tailoring, making everything I own seem despicably dull in comparison.

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