Young Turks

[slideshow_deploy id=’8592′]

The dawn of a new year is routinely the harbinger of many wonderful events. And this is most certainly true for the British Fashion Council (BFC) who has marked the beginning of 2014 with an aspirant assiduity by revealing the recipients of the coveted Fashion Forward prize which has contributed to a certain sonic boom effect. This prize comes fast on the heels of the  announcement the Council made at the end of 2013 that seven of UK’s most impressive emerging talents were to be awarded support from the NEWGEN programme, sponsored by TOPSHOP, for A/W 2014 in order to showcase at London Fashion Week.

This compelling “sonic boom” precedes the training of all fashion-orientated eyes on London ahead of this new talent making its mark, as the award seasons will be running concurrently with the upcoming AW14 presentations.

“Jackie, Nasir and Sophia” that’s Korean-born J.JS Lee, East London native Nasir Mazhar and British footwear devotee Sophia Webster – the  womenswear designers who have just been decorated with the Fashion Forward achievement – have, according to Caroline Rush, Chief Executive of the BFC, “come through the ranks and couldn’t be more deserving of this level of recognition”.

Established in 2009, and supported by the Mayor of London, Fashion Forward grants the  designers, who are more often than not NEWGEN predecessors, or those who exhibit a discerning business flair, with a monetary endowment, allowing their emerging creative to blaze a proverbial trail in the industry. Referring to the winners, Rush also points out that, “each of them has a very distinctive design aesthetic”, evident, respectively, in the refreshing clarity of expert pattern-cutter, J.JS Lee’s work, the maverick millinery and acidic street-smart of outré authority Mazhar, and finally the RCA graduate Webster, whose ebullient, candy festooned shoes secured her the Emerging Accessories Designer accolade at the British Fashion Awards in December.

Prior to the Fashion Forward announcement this month, the influx of talent on the NEWGEN roster in 2014, has positioned a range of equally unique designers at the forefront of the BFC’s stated aim which is to sustain those emerging talents whose ambition is to make their brand a global powerhouse in the future which has no doubt led to their sponsorship from NEWGEN.

Established in 1993, and with impressive alumni such as Alexander McQueen, Christopher Kane and Mary Katrantzou, for Sarah Mower MBE, BFC Ambassador for Emerging Talent, and chair of the committee, the critical task of deliberating over the seven destined designers is in fact an “endlessly rewarding” process, confirming that, subsequently, it is “thrilling to be able to see the trajectory of growth of our NEWGEN designers, from maybe occupying one rail as newcomers to selling to the world.”

For AW14, Catwalk Sponsorship creatives include 1205, Marques’Almeida, Lucas Nascimento and neo-romanticist Simone Rocha, while Presentation Sponsorship goes to self-taught, fuchsia frolicking sensation Ryan Lo, and finally Exhibition Sponsorship, which has been awarded to DIY designer Claire Barrow and the raw talent, with an eye for precise detail, Danielle Romeril.

And only last week, as further testimonial to the strength of the extraordinary talent within our shores, Peter Pilotto has been announced as the winner of this year’s BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund. Conceived in 2008, it will offer the Pilotto label, headed by the Austrian/Italian Pilotto and Belgium/Peruvian Christopher De Vos, a high level of mentoring, courtesy of a 12- month support programme, as well as a generous financial grant, which will surely see the brand, which continues to redefine a modern elegance, go from strength to strength.

Following the news, Alexandra Shulman, editor-in-chief of British Vogue, and chair of the Fashion Fund, said that “Christopher and Peter are deserved winners of this year’s fund award. They have remained true to their vision of a print and colour focused brand but have managed to expand and grow the business to a level where they can now compete on an international stage. It’s a pleasure to be able to support them.”

by Liam Feltham

All images courtesy of