When assembling a Judging Panel for any project the only objective is to get experts … the very best in their field … and that’s exactly what we did for the 2017 Sophie Hallette University Design Challenge.

The SHUDC, in case you have not been keeping up, is the fashion-forward design initiative devised by Sophie Hallette to encourage young design talent at top fashion schools throughout the UK, and it is fair to say that the entries for the past four years have been spectacular, with many of the winners using it as a springboard onto greater things.

2017 looks like continuing that tradition, and because the entries are getting more creative and innovative every year, we needed to look for a panel of judges with specialist knowledge of fashion and design – obviously – but from every angle.

Creativity. Production. History. A passion for lace. And a desire to push the boundaries in general….to be ahead of the the curve. We wanted the best critics around to put those students through their paces.

And so, drumroll please, we are delighted to welcome:

Elizabeth Paton – European Styles Correspondent of the New York Times covering fashion and luxury markets.

Oriole Cullen – Senior Curator for Modern Textiles and Fashion at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Willie Walters OBE – Course leader of the BA fashion programme at Central St. Martins for 18 years….now retired. A Legend!

Martine Jarlgaard – Fashion designer who has worked with Vivienne Westwood, All Saints and Diesel before launching her own brand, Martine Jarlgaard London, championing sustainability and innovation in the fashion industry through technology.

Fabio Piras – The highly respected Course Director of MA Fashion at Central St Martins, shaping a new era of fashion design talent.

James Sherwood – Journalist and broadcaster with specialist knowledge of couture and bespoke tailoring.

Astrid Andersen – Danish designer, now London based who creates premium casualwear with a sports inspired aesthetic leading a new generation in menswear.

Veronica Potocko – experienced fabric specialist at Stella McCartney.

Judith Watt – Author and Historian, who teaches Fashion History at Central St. Martins.

There are 12 Finalists who are currently putting the finishing touches to their collections before submitting their presentations to the scrutiny of this illustrious panel.

Good luck to all of them….and let the Games begin!