The most recent University Design Challenge contest launched in 2013 by Sophie Hallette was held in London in early June. The idea : offer 7 students, in their final year of Fashion Design studies in Great Britain’s top fashion schools, lace for their graduate collections : then show their creations to a jury in the hopes of winning the 1000 pound grand prize (approximately 1400€) to give them a boost for their career.

The jury ? Bruno Lescroart, President Emeritus of Sophie Hallette, Maud Lescroart, Marketing Director, designer Bruce Oldfield, Amy E. Williams, editor of “YOU Inspire” magazine plus Oriole Cullen and Clara Browne of London’s Victoria & Albert Museum.

Their task? Choose the most outstanding student, not only for their creativity but also for their cutting/sewing skills and design sensibility … The decision was difficult but ultimately Bianca Saunders from Kingston University won with a collection inspired by the English colonial era in India.

Not far behind in the voting, others names to watch included Rachael Eustace of Edinburgh who reinterpreted the man’s work suit and Beth McCullum from Manchester School of Art with a new take on Chinese culture.

“An enormous amount of large companies around the world want to hire emerging talents at English design schools to help bring their labels to a new level and who also understand and interact with today’s evolving consumers” comments Maud Lescroart. “Great Britain has a well-deserved reputation for irreverent creativity and innovation. At Sophie Hallette, we adore innovation. And we weren’t disappointed : these superstars will soon explode on the runways !”

Rachael Eustance - Edinburgh University