The UK has a well-deserved reputation for producing some of the best fashion designers from its colleges and universities. True, much of it is raw talent which needs honing before being unleashed on the world, but even the finest diamonds need polishing to show their sparkling magnificence… and this is what London does so well.

And last night, at the Truman Brewery in East London a whole slew of new student talent was unveiled at the 2016 Graduate Fashion Week Gala Awards. The best Award, (of course!), was the winner of the 4th Sophie Hallette University Design Challenge which for the first time was part of GFW.

21 top fashion universities were invited to submit collections by 2 students – involving Sophie Hallette lace – so the judging room was awash with rails of gorgeous and inventive creations, some of which were downright crazy and a joy to behold as lace was taken to another level. And it’s not all about design – the student had prove his or her skills and to master hems, appliqués or dyeing like a professional with finishings that meet industry standards. Plus the result must be commercially viable too and that’s why we had a formidable Judging Panel, each of whom brought different skills to bear.

For instance, Bruno Lescroart, President Emeritus of Sophie Hallette. What he and his wife, Florence, do not know about the technicalities of lace is not worth mentioning; Oriole Cullen and Clare Browne – both respected fashion and fabric curators at the world-famous Victoria and Albert Museum; James Sherwood, a journalist and broadcaster whose knowledge of couture and bespoke tailoring is renowned; Bruce Oldfield, a couturier whose sharp eye for fashion and form is legend, and finally Emily Dawes, the deputy fashion editor of award-winning YOU magazine whose day-to-day life involves choosing, editing and breathing fashion for the magazine pages.

They had a tough job, but in the end Anum Rasul from Salford University triumphed with her collection of opulent lace leisurewear.

In second place was George Hollins from Arts University Bournemouth with a very creative camouflage/lace menswear…. and Bournemouth scored again as Tereza Kocichova took third prize.

Sophie Hallette love working with young talent, nurturing the raw passion for fashion and inventive ways with fabric and the University Design Challenge never disappoints… so watch out Planet Fashion lace is on the march!