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Graduate Fashion Week announces Gala Award Show winners

Alice Ierace
06 June 2019

Last night, Graduate Fashion Week announced the winners of this year's Gala Awards. Over 150 judges joined the charity across the four-day event to decide 32 award winners, including New Lifetime Patron and designer Dame Zandra Rhodes heading up the Hilary Alexander Trailblazer award and GFW Ambassador Christopher Raeburn who headed up the Christopher Bailey Gold Award panel of industry experts.

This year, a Graduate Fashion Week shining star was Brian McLysaght from Edinburgh College of Art who walked away with three awards including the coveted Christopher Bailey Gold Award. Edinburgh College of Art students continued to impress with Alexandra Fan receiving two awards (the Womenswear Award and the David Band Textiles Award which was presented during the Best Of show earlier that day) during Graduate Fashion Week and Rosie Baird who received the George Catwalk to Store Award.

The prestigious Christopher Bailey Gold Award, named after the first winner of the award in 1991, was awarded to Brian McLysaght from Edinburgh College of Art, for his collection which is entirely made from sustainable and biodegradable wood and is inspired by the role of clothing in 20th Century decolonisation movements.

Judges for the award included; Designer and Creative Director Christopher Raeburn, Times Fashion Director Anna Murphy, Editor for LOVE magazine Harriet Verney, Head of Global Creative Recruitment at LVMH Gena Smith, Central Saint Martins MA Fashion Course Director, Fabio Piras, The Gentlewoman Editor-in-Chief Penny Martin, Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo, Founders & Creative Directors of Ralph & Russo.

Christopher Raeburn commented: "Choosing the winner was for me relatively straightforward, there was on stand out designer who I felt really exemplified the brief in terms of catwalk impact, level of craft, creativity, skill, expertise and thoroughness, research and material choices -really impressive.

Winner Brian McLysaght added: "It feels absolutely incredible to have won all of these awards, I’m so thankful. What really made me win these awards was the standard at Edinburgh, everybody in our class is so incredible, we hold each other to such exceptional standard. My classmates are really the people who got me here. In the future I hope to continue working in sustainable development, I’m very interested and ethics and sustainability that’s my design focus.

The Menswear Award was presented to Greg Brears from Birmingham City University and the Womenswear Award was presented to Alexandra Fan from Edinburgh College of Art.

Henry Holland commented on the winner of the Womenswear Award: “From the minute I saw it I knew that it was going to be my favourite. It blew me away, was nothing like I had ever seen before. It felt like something that was actually new, inventive, intriguing. I wanted her section of the show to continue for longer, and then when we met her, seeing her research and development and hearing her story and her reference points and approach, it just re-enforced the idea that what she had done was revolutionary.”

The Catwalk Knitwear Award was presented to Hannah Stote from Bath Spa University. The Hilary Alexander Trailblazer Award presented by Dame Zandra Rhodes and Hilary Alexander OBE was won by Brian Mc Lysaght from Edinburgh College of Art.

Hilary Alexander OBE commented: “We chose this winner because the work stood out almost immediately and it was about the one collection that we couldn’t stop talking about and we kept on going back to. We looked at others and then we went back to it. The work was extraordinarily beautiful.”

The George Catwalk to Store Award went to Rosie Baird from Edinburgh College of Art and the Clarks Footwear Award was awarded to Keri Thornton from De Montfort University for her sustainable collection.

The Tu Sainsbury’s Scholarships went to Josephine Roberts from Northumbria University and Michella Knight from Nottingham Trent University and the International Fashion Award sponsored by GAP Inc. was awarded to Ivy Lan from Savannah College of Art and Design Hong Kong. Lastly, the Conscious Design Award sponsored by Swarovski went to Brian Mc Lysaght from Edinburgh College of Art.

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