Graduate Preview: 2013 FAD Competition Winners

FAD Competition, FAD Stories
This year’s FAD Competition final at Fashion Scout in February was one of the strongest to date, showcasing some truly innovative design talent.

See graduate collections by other 2013 FAD Competition finalists in our second blog post preview.

Three months on and many of the FAD finalists are preparing to present their final collections to press and industry at Graduate Fashion Week in London. In the first of our graduate previews we catch up with our 2013 FAD Competition winners to talk about their graduate collections and life after university.

Stephanie Kitchen, 21, Bath Spa University

Hailed by Hilary Alexander as ‘One to Watch’ 2013 FAD Competition winner and passionate cyclist, Stephanie, describes herself as a ‘Performance Sportswear Designer’.

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Stephanie on the catwalk at the 2013 FAD Competition final

Stephanie tell us about the inspiration behind your graduate collection?

It’s a winter sportswear collection inspired by adventure and polar expeditions. I was particularly inspired by the explorer Ranulph Fiennes and his incredible accomplishments. I really like his quote “There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.”

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Stephanie’s Graduate Collection

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Stephanie’s ‘Survival Jacket’

Do you have a favourite piece?

My favourite piece of the collection is the ‘Survival Jacket’ as this was really the starting point for me and the centre piece of the collection.

How did taking part in the FAD Competition help you as a young designer?

Winning the FAD Competition was such an amazing experience; I had so much positive feedback and learnt so much whilst developing my collection. It’s very rare for a fashion design student to have the opportunity to see their work on models on a catwalk let alone during London Fashion Week. I’m so grateful to FAD for that very unique opportunity.

After the show I found out that Hilary Alexander had chosen to display my garments on the catwalk as part of her trend show at London Fashion Weekend, which was yet another unbelievable surprise and a massive honour!

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What is next for you Stephanie?

After I graduate I hope to get an internship at a sportswear company so I can learn more from working within the fashion industry.

What are you most looking forward to at Graduate Fashion Week?

I’m really excited about seeing everybody’s graduate collections and portfolios, and also meeting new people.

Nneka Okorie, 22, University of Salford

Menswear designer and 2013 runner-up Nneka was talent spotted by Topshop at the 2013 FAD Competition, resulting in a placement with their design team this summer.

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Nneka on the catwalk at London Fashion Week

Nneka, tell us what’s inspiring your graduate collection?

The inspiration behind my collection is a combination of the film ‘Coming to America‘ and my Dad’s Nigerian heritage. A Young African Prince sets out to immerse himself in a new way of life, seeing if he can make it on his own. It’s about freedom, confidence, the compromise of what you adopt for your new life and what you let go.

I love your inspiration! Do you have a favourite piece in the collection?

My favourite piece is a modern take on the traditional Nigerian Agbada. It’s a long vertically striped gown, that continues into the sleeve and stops just above the ankle. Every stripe is a panel made from different coloured cottons and strands of wool.

My Dad has a mint green Agbada embroidered in Gold, which is where the idea started. However instead of just being ceremonial I wanted mine to feel like a ‘grande’ 80’s sweater; eye-catching but also wearable with trainers.

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Nneka’s graduate collection inspired by the 80’s film ‘Coming to America’

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Nneka’s graduate collection inspired by the 80’s film ‘Coming to America’

How did taking part in the FAD Competition help you as a young designer?

Taking part in FAD helped me as a designer because the brief was so open! My final outfits were true to how I design.

Because it was a competition my levels of determination were sky-high. There were a lot of hurdles trying to get the print done in time and to the right standard but I learnt to make sure companies took me seriously and not to back down from what I want.  Lastly it showed me the end stage of what all the running around is for. It all made sense when I saw my clothes on the catwalk: the button choices, accessories and finishes etc.

What is next for you?

Up next is London. I’m moving in September to start my Menswear MA at the Royal College of Art (RCA).  It’s funny because after I handed my final outfits into FAD for the competition final, I arrived just in time to hand in my portfolio at the RCA.

What are you most looking forward to at Graduate Fashion Week?

I’m mostly looking forward to seeing all my course’s collections. What I love about the University of Salford Fashion BA is that the intake is so diverse; we all come from different financial, social and cultural backgrounds. So as a result the collection concepts are such a rich mixture of shapes, colours and textures.  I see the show not only as a showcase but a celebration of our personalities.

Stephanos Konstantiou, 23, Nottingham Trent University

Young Cypriot designer Stephanos Konstantiou, 23, wowed the FAD Competition jury with his laser cut neoprene collection to become runner-up in the FAD final at London Fashion Week.

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Stephanos with his winning designs at the 2013 FAD Competition final

Tell us where the inspiration for your graduate collection came from?

It’s actually based on my entry for the FAD Competition, including the two outfits from the final. The inspiration is a new interpretation of minimalism in fashion. Innovative use of technology allows substantial reductions in manufacturing processes, whilst a reminder of traditional forms is retained in illusory detail.

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Houndstooth lazer cut dress in neoprene from Stephanos’ graduate collection

Do you have a favourite piece in the collection?

My favourite piece is the houndstooth dress, with engraved and cut out houndstooth pattern. It’s my favourite because it’s a very simple, wearable silhouette yet very modern.

How did taking part in the FAD Competition help you as a young designer?

Taking part in the FAD competition made me more confident as a designer, as well as getting me some press, which was lovely to see my work published.

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Cut out ‘stitch’ jacket detail

What is next for you?

After I graduate hopefully either a Master’s degree in London, or a job in the fashion industry. I am keeping my options open for whatever path is the best to follow.

What are you most looking forward to at Graduate Fashion Week?

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s work at Graduate Fashion Week, hopefully as well as my own.

See the 2013 FAD Competition winners showcase their final graduate collections at Graduate Fashion Week from Sunday 3rd – Wednesday 5th June. For more information or to purchase tickets visit www.gfw.org.uk.
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