Christopher Kane, Mary Katrantzou, Nicholas Kirkwood. These now internationally recognized names are among a select but growing group of UK-based designers who have been supported by the BFC Fashion Trust since it was launched in 2011. And last night, the recipients of this year’s Trust grants were announced at an industry event in London.
Hosted by BFC Fashion Trust founder and patron Megha Mittal at her Kensington residence, past recipients including Emila Wickstead and design duo Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos, as well as Eco Age founder Livia Firth, were among the attendees who gathered to congratulate the winners, who were awarded grants totalling £450,000.
Previous recipients, Eudon Choi, Fyodor Golan, Huishan Zhang, Marques’ Almeida, Osman and Rejina Pyo learned that their current funding would continue, while Edeline Lee, Georgia Hardinge, Isa Arfen, Sharon Wauchob and Teatum Jones were announced as first-time winners, the eleven designer brands sharing the largest amount the charity has awarded since its inception.
“By providing financial as well as mentoring support, the BFC Fashion Trust continues to help secure the future stability of these designer businesses in contributing to our growing industry,” said Caroline Rush, chief executive officer of the BFC, which counts Carmen among its group of private donors.
Here we take a closer look at the five first-time winners, who are definitely ones to watch…
Canadian-born, London-based Edeline Lee launched her eponymous label in 2014 and made her debut on the official London Fashion Week schedule with her SS16 collection. A Central Saint Martins graduate, the designer served as an apprentice at Alexander McQueen and John Galliano, and also worked at Zac Posen in New York before setting out on her own.
Made in England by hand from French and Italian cloth, Lee’s sophisticated and spirited designs are a favorite of creatives from the worlds of art, music and film, and her clothes have been worn by the likes of Alicia Vikander, Taylor Swift and Solange Knowles.
Born in London, Georgia Hardinge trained at Parsons School of Art and Design in Paris, where she won the best designer award for her graduate collection.
The designer launched her own label in 2010 and her AW11 ‘Merit Award’ win secured her a first stand-alone runway show at Fashion Scout, one of the UK's largest fashion showcases.
Known for her sculptural aesthetic, her designs have been worn by Florence Welch, Beyonce, Lady Gaga and Erin O’Conner, among others, and have also been seen on the British High Street through collaborations with well-known brands and retailers, including River Island.
Founded in 2011, London-based womenswear label Isa Arfen is the creation of Serafina Sama.
Italian-born Sama, a Central Saint Martins graduate, spent time at Marni, Lanvin, Marc Jacobs and Chloé in her early career, and has also worked with Louis Vuitton, Acne and Charlotte Olympia.
Known for her individual, eccentric and irreverent designs, Sama’s label attracts a loyal band of customers who identify with Isa Arfen’s Italian-influenced aesthetic.
A regular fixture on the official Paris Fashion Week schedule since 2003, Sharon Wauchob hosted her first London show last September, having relocated her business to the UK.
Irish-born Wauchob, who graduated with first class honours from Central Saint Martins in 1993, has an impressive CV which includes four years spent working as an in-house designer at Louis Vuitton and serving as creative director of New-York based label Edun, all while continuing to produce collections for her own under-the-radar label which she founded in 1999.
A delicate balance between femininity and power, Wauchob’s clothes play on contrasts such as structure and fluidity and transparency and opaqueness, with garments from her London debut described as “French fabrics with a London attitude” by the accomplished designer.
Catherine Teatum and Rob Jones are the designers behind London-based womenswear brand Teatum Jones.
Graduates from Ravensbourne College of Design and Central Saint Martins respectively, the duo’s award winning brand has become known for its modern, polished and bold aesthetic.
After making their London Fashion Week debut in 2011 as part of the event’s standing exhibition, Teatum Jones is now a regular fixture on the official runway schedule.
As part of their award, each of the designers will receive a programme of mentoring from fellow creatives, as well as experts in commerce, and are among 33 industry professionals who have now benefited from the BFC Fashion Trust’s support.
Read more about the work of the BFC Fashion Trust in our exclusive interview with the charity’s co-chairs here.