On Saturday 16th February (coinciding pleasantly with London Fashion Week) five of the countries most promising young designers were invited up to St Andrews in Scotland to have their designs studiously deliberated-over by a panel of journalists and fashionistas at the forefront of UK style.
These five designers had been whittled down from thousands of entrants and chosen on the strength of their sketched collections. These collections had been pieced together during a two month period based on a brief inspired by Alfa Romeo, encompassing their unique design and Italian heritage alongside a “fragments of the imagination” guideline, and quote from J.M. Barrie, a former rector at the judging venue St Andrews which is celebrating its 600th anniversary this year.
The quote read:
“If you shut your eyes and are a lucky one, you may see at times a shapeless pool of lovely pale colours suspended in the darkness; then if you squeeze your eyes tighter, the pool begins to take shape, and the colours become so vivid that with another squeeze they must go on fire.”
― J.M. Barrie
The collections which followed were truly sublime, and the editorial style photography which was produced to display the designs alongside the vehicles which inspired them were alluring and bold in equal measure.
The final 5 consisted of:
- Alexandra Heath
- Katya Encheva
- Courtney Blades
- Luke Archer & George Jenkins
- Matthew O’Brien
Alexandra showed a series of outfits which were long & flowing, with rich folds in luxurious looking fabric. Surrounding the sweeping folds were elements of structure encompassing the design features of the Alfa’s various signature styling elements from grills, to lights, to the asymmetry of the number plates.
George & Luke collaborated, with one being a specialist in accessories and the other being rather talented at the design and creation of high fashion garments. The garment stylization was very much of the ilk of Alexander Mcqueen, with eccentric & bold shapes and fabric combinations, distinctive of Alfa Romeo’s essence whilst incorporating Neoprene, leather and sheet metal. The accessories which were produced incorporated fascinators, a very unique fencing mask, handbags & jewellery which combined intricate gem designs, with quirky LED lighting.
Courtney presented a colour-rich, summer friendly collection, which had echo’s of Alfa Romeo styling, and a strong fairytale theme akin to those of J.M. Barrie. Within the colour blocks and blotches emerged relevant fairytale characters from various stories, all presented on lightweight white pleated fabric, and featuring the unique technique of printing direct onto leather
Katya’s collection was inspired by her curiosity into what lay inside the attractive façade of the newly introduced and previously unavailable European vehicles, which arrived in the early 90’s in her native Romania. This led to an interior inspired collection embodying Alfa Romeo’s rich leathers, with upholstery-like folds and detailing, but still with a certain restraint of palate and mood, representing some of the difficulties of a nation emerging from communist rule.
Finally Matthew showcased some extraordinary and unique pieces which were designed to work on two levels. The first was to draw attention to his collection with garments utilising his electronics degree to produce pieces which lit up, and also moved through technical trickery. The other level to his collection was by showcasing his design ability through high fashion pieces, which were design rich, and very well made, with a certain balletic quality through the designs, and Alfa Romeos signature curves, colours and logos running through each piece.
Left to right: Katya Encheva, Courtney Blades, Alexandra Heath, Matthew O’Brien, George Jenkins & Luke Archer
After some interesting questions to the designers, the judges took a look at the stunning editorial photography produced, which featured the fashion pieces alongside the Alfa Romeo vehicles. The collections were perused, touched and discussed and eventually after much deliberation a winner was selected.
Many congratulations to Luke Archer & George Jenkins who emerged as winners of the Alfa Romeo Young Designer Award 2013. Their designs were decided to be those which most closely embodied the spirit of Alfa Romeo, alongside the brief given to the finalists. The use of materials, bold designs and technical execution separated the duo from the other finalists in a close run vote.