Since taking part in the 2009 FAD Competition, talented knitwear designer Beatrice Newman has won prizes and scholarships, dressed celebrities such as Shingai Showiwa of ‘The Noisettes’ and Alesha Dixon and seen her designs feature in numerous magazines. All at the tender age of 23.
We talk to the former FAD Competition finalist about life as a designer and why she chooses to volunteer for FAD.
Beatrice, briefly tell us what you are doing now?
B: At the moment I’m doing an MA at the London College of Fashion studying Digital fashion. Since I started last December I’ve learned 3D video, film making and animation amoung other digital programs that I can incorporate into my portfolio work and use to enhance my brand advertising.
Quite soon after taking part in FAD, I was in other competitions including the ‘Hand and Lock’ embroidery competition, which I actually won. I also applied for and won a scholarship from the Framework Knitters Guild for my ideas and vision for the future of knitwear.
As well as featuring consistently in magazines, we know you have developed quite a celebrity following since graduating. Can you tell us about your career highlights so far?
B: Career highlights this year have been making dresses for Alisha Dixon to wear in her video “Every Little Part of Me” and also at the 2011 Brit Awards where she was voted as one of the best dressed on Sky TV’s website. Since graduating I have also made garments for Shingai Shoniwa of the Noisettes, which she wore on BBC 2’s Never Mind The Buzzcocks and at Lovebox this summer.
My outfits have also been featured in Fault magazine in a short Alesha Dixon editorial and newer collections have been worn by other celebrities such as Noelle Reno for a Jewellery editorial. Most recently my designs were in “Black Hair Magazine” (August 2011) and one dress was actually worn on the front cover worn by model Nana Antwi.
Wow that’s quite an acheivement and a lot of hard work. What is the most important to you as a designer? How would you desribe your style of work?
B: “As a designer, perfection is very important to me. Perfection – not in the sense of a general perfection; but perfection as it is meant by the customer or expected to be. In this way each outfit is unique, which is also an important aspect of my designs. Part of my style is to make sure my designs are exotic yet unique.
Elegance and luxury are also important aspects of my designs. I am the type that goes that extra mile to make my designs not only look elegant to the eyes but also luxurious on the skin. Lastly, as every other designer, I try to create beauty with the customer and outfit.”
How did taking part in the FAD Competition help you, both professionally and personally?
B: “Taking part in the FAD competition helped me to understand the importance of business structure and planning. It also opened my eyes to designing for a specific target audience to cater for their needs. It showed me that, from the most extreme and avant-garde, I could still produce beautiful and inspiring wearable clothes.
What made you want to enter the FAD Competition? How did it differ from other competitions on offer?
B: “I saw it as another chance to challenge myself; it was different from other competitions because it actually supports you in the business process, financial process and in the design process. It gave me a whole new exposure to some of the realities of fashion.”
How have you worked with FAD since taking part in the Competition? What do you enjoy most about volunteering?
B: “I worked with FAD on a summer project for 15 year-olds in Lewisham, assisting teenagers who have an interest in fashion in how to design and use their ideas effectively. I also took part in a FAD careers workshop where I presented some of my work to a group of college students to help them understand more about fashion as a course and a career.
I enjoy volunteering for the love of doing what I enjoy doing (fashion). Also, helping others do their best allows me to work with and understand young people with different abilities, from different cultures and backgrounds.”
What do you think of charities like FAD – in your opinion is there a need to support young people in this way?
B: “I think there is a need in many and various ways. FAD is providing for youth a very important experience in their creative life. I learnt important lessons through FAD’s competition and I believe a lot more people are learning and benefiting from what FAD has to offer. There is always a need for FAD’s support.”
If you could give one piece of advice to other creative young people what would it be?
B: “No matter how hard the road seems, continue to follow your dreams. There will always be something in your way; the more you conquer, the more you accomplish.”
Read more about Beatrice