The Midland’s Got Talent

Meet this year’s rising stars whose winning creations are heading for a wardrobe near you

This year’s Midlands Fashion Awards once again proved that the region is a hotbed of design talent. Now in it’s seventh year, the ceremony promotes fashion design talent across the Midlands – with winners going onto show at the Oscars, London Fashion Week and even design for Kim Kardashion.

BEST EMERGINING DESIGNER OF THE YEAR

Sarah Woodward

“I’m planning which direction to take my label and I’m hoping to launch it next year. I’m setting up a studio in Nottingham and I’ve already had a few people contact me to ask if I’m selling the pink dress, which they saw at MFA and in the Derby Telegraph. I want people to look at my garments and think that they’d want to wear them or that they’d feel amazing wearing them.

I feel like there’s a lot missing from the high-street. The styles look so similar and it’s really hard to find anything that looks different or has any unique detailing. You could get any white shirt on the high-street, but if you add an interesting fastening or beautiful cuff detail, people wouldn’t mind paying a little more.

It’s considered that if you want to work in fashion, you need to be in London but that’s not the case and there are other opportunities you just need to look for them. I was so surprised to be nominated for the award and to win was a massive compliment.”

sarahlouisewoodward.com 

BEST YOUNG DESIGNER OF THE YEAR

Georgia Richardson

The design gene runs in my family. I had always done art at school and my older sister studied Fashion Design at Nottingham University. My mum was also a designer and had a shop in Birmingham and so did my grandmother and great grandmother so it’s safe to say it’s in the family!

I’ve just set up my own dress company, Fourth Generation because I’m the fourth generation of dressmakers. It focuses on evening and party dresses and they are all bespoke and made to measure.  You just pick your dress, choose a fabric then send your measurements and it’s a week’s turn around. I’ve had great feedback and it’s a chance for you to be the designer.

Since MFA, I contacted lots of magazines and radio stations and I’ve had such a great response from people. I think without being able to say I was part of MFA, they may have not given me a chance or considered me. I’ve already had two radio interviews from local BBC stations and a magazine interview. I’m just really grateful to be a part of MFA.”

4thgenerationblog.wordpress.com/category/business

BEST ACCESSORY DESIGNER OF THE YEAR

Rachel Warrilow

I was really into vintage and burlesque and I had always wanted to finish off my outfits. I had this image in my mind but I could never find what I was looking for. I did a one day hat making workshop with Ellie Braithwaite in Digbeth and I was hooked from the get go. I bought lots of supplies and within the first few weeks, I’d made far more than I could ever wear myself so I started listening them on etsy.com.

MFA has been such a confidence boost and it also helps my customers trust in what I do and love being able to say ‘Award-Winning’. It felt wonderful to be nominated for the award. I’d had really good feedback from customers but to have it from an industry based competition was amazing, and to win it was incredible and everyone was crying again!

Since MFA I’m now in a shop in Solihull called Naissance De. It’s lovely to have a high-street presence and I’d love to build on local contacts and work with the Birmingham people. I’ve also been on the Chris Evans Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 2, which was very surreal!”

spiritofharlequin.com

BEST INDEPENDENT DESIGNER OF THE YEAR

Maurice Whittingham

I think menswear could do with a lot more options. I think men’s tailoring can be a little boring. I can understand because men don’t like to experiment to a certain point but there are a lot of the same cuts and patterns, I just want to put a twist on it. Many of my trousers come with a skirt attached, which I feel is quite masculine.

This year has been fantastic. I recently I offered to showcase at New York and London Fashion Week and then winning the award at MFA was a really great achievement and it was lovely for my family to see my designs on the catwalk.

MFA makes people aware of you in the industry. You can be working at something for years but if you only show your friends and family, then nobody really knows about you. The awards give you a great sense of achievement and make you feel like you are going in the right direction.”

For more information and to enter Midlands Fashion Awards 2016, visit midlandsfashionawards.co.uk

Read the full interviews in issue 47, out now and online

As the Editor of Style Birmingham magazine you will most often catch me on the go, running around the city looking out for the hottest spots in town to tell you all about.