A FASHION student left devastated after originally being turned down by Edinburgh College of Art has followed some of the UK’s top designers and scooped the top honours at the biggest graduate show in the country.
Lauren Smith beat hundreds of talented students from across the country for the chance to work with leading designers at supermarket clothing giant George. Her striking catwalk creations will now be adapted into outfits to be sold in Asda stores across the country.
The win is a remarkable turnaround of fortunes. For Lauren, 23, from Currie, had thought her hopes of becoming a fashion designer were doomed when her first attempt to study at ECA was knocked back.
She was later accepted, and now she has won the George Gold Award for the best collection at a glittering finale of London Graduate Fashion Week – one of the fashion world’s biggest events and a showcase for new talent across the country.
As well as winning £20,000, the largest cash prize in British fashion education, Lauren is now preparing to work alongside the George team to create a limited-edition range to be sold in store and online.
“Winning is a total shock,” she said. “I’m completely overwhelmed and flattered to win such a prestigious award.
“I was devastated when I was turned down for art college first time around. I suppose things happen for a reason and not getting in first time I tried has actually paid off in the end.
“I suppose it goes to show that if you don’t get what you want first time, it’s not the end of the world.”
Lauren, who now lives in the Grassmarket, was in her sixth year at Currie High School when her original application to study at ECA was turned down. She went on to study textiles at Telford College, before her second application to study fashion at the art college was accepted.
For her graduation year, she created a striking collection of women’s outfits and menswear using fabric she’d designed herself which was inspired by unfinished sketches and doodles in artists’ notebooks.
George brand director Fiona Lambert described her collection as “stunning”.
Fellow judge and French fashion designer Roland Mouret, whose figure-hugging dresses are a favourite of celebrities like Victoria Beckham, said: “There are so many students coming out of schools and it is quite nice to give the prize to someone who has the personality to match the techniques in their collection.
“The personality of the designer has to be linked to their clothing – there has to be a connection between the two for it to be believable and we found that in Lauren.”
London Graduate Fashion Week showcases the work of more than 1000 graduates from 40 UK and 16 international universities and is the biggest platform for fresh creative design talent.
The event features 22 catwalk shows and prizes for top students are often a launch pad to international success. Previous shows have kicked off the careers of Stella McCartney, Julien Macdonald and Christopher Bailey.
Lauren broke the news of her win to her mum, Ailie, and sister Emma, 21, in Currie within minutes of her win. “Everyone is so proud. It’s amazing,” she added. “I think I’m still in shock, everything’s gone from nought to 90 overnight.
“It’s insane to think I’m going to be working with people from George. The idea is to commercialise a couple of pieces from the collection to go on sale – it’s the kind of thing that a graduate fashion student doesn’t normally get the chance to do.”