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Fashion Design Students Compete for River Island Award

Designs by Kimberly Gayle

The School of Fashion and Textiles has recently teamed up with high-street fashion giant River Island to develop new award for BA (Hons) Fashion Design students. The River Island X BCU Portfolio Award saw second year students creating portfolios to showcase two design projects.

School of Fashion and Textiles

Birmingham City University

For the first project, students were asked to create a Ready to Wear design around the theme of ‘heritage’, with a strong focus on garment types, functionality and detailing. Many took inspiration from their personal heritage and developed projects around a family member’s story.

The second project asked students to create a conceptual catwalk collection with a focus on creativity, silhouette and textiles. They were asked to research an award-winning contemporary artist and explore their art and personal life as inspiration for their design development.

A team from River Island judged the portfolios on creativity, design development, product awareness, colour and textile application, illustration and technical drawing skills.

Designs by Jade Cousins

The winner selected by the team was Kimberly Gayle, whose designs (pictured above) took inspiration from her mum’s hairdressing career in Jamaica and the UK, and from the life and work of Turner Prize winning artist Tracey Emin.

Victoria Hunt, River Island Menswear Design Manager, praised Kimberly’s portfolio: “This portfolio stood out because it showed a fantastic level of design work, illustration, colour application, creativity and Adobe illustrator CAD drawings. It also showed an amazing understanding of contemporary fashion through the products explored and the incredible attention to detail.”

Jade Cousins was chosen as runner-up with designs (pictured right) based on her grandad’s pigeon racing hobby and his days as a Teddy boy, and on the life and work of award-winning artist Yayoi Kusama.

Four additional finalists - Leia Groom, Safa Nassar, Phoebe Hassel and Eloise Hamer – received written feedback on their work from the River Island’s Victoria Hunt.

The partnership with River Island was developed by BA (Hons) Fashion Design Lecturer Michelle Wetherell, who added: “As tutors we saw an incredible transformation in the students’ ability. From research to design work, from illustration to technical drawings, and in portfolio presentation. We were delighted with all the students’ progression and were amazed at the determination, focus and resilience they showed throughout, especially under the uncertainly of lockdown and online learning. We would like to say well done and congratulations to all our Level 5 students and a thank you to River Island for a fantastic opportunity.”

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