Kate Middleton dress firm backs city student show

Kate Middleton’s shape-hugging bridal gown is one of the most famous dresses in the world and a fashion creation single-handedly said to be making the fabric lace sexy again.

And now that marriage between lace and racy has taken a huge step forward – after featuring in an Edinburgh catwalk fashion show backed by a design company heavily involved in the creation of the royal’s jaw-dropping garment.

Sophie Hallette Lace, which provided the material for the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress, provided fabric for and sponsored Edinburgh College of Art fashion student Melissa Thwaites’ collection.

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The French company has been making what is widely considered to be the best lace in the world at its factory near Lille since 1942.

The delighted 21-year-old said: “I would never be able to afford such beautiful material on a student budget. They wanted to work with a graduating student because they’re trying to get lace into the collections of younger designers who can find new ways to use it that aren’t so traditional.”

Melissa’s funky designs mix brightly coloured lace with knitwear. She added: “I liked the challenge of creating something that was effortlessly elegant and fashion forward, but also nonchalant and easy to wear.”

Melissa’s creations were unveiled at a sneak preview of the college fashion show yesterday.

It also saw runway themes based on 1990s children’s TV, Peruvian tribes, and even luxury yachts. The young designers, all fourth-year students, have been working around the clock to prepare their garments and style their models for the show.

“People assume that fashion is easy,” said course programme director Mal Burkinshaw, 38. He added: “It’s a discipline that ties in so many specialities. There’s architecture going on, there’s a craft skill, there’s innovations in textiles.

“We’ve got students laser cutting and using the latest technology. There’s a student who is one of the first people ever to print with glass. I’m always left with an absolute pride in what we do.”

All of the ambitious students look ahead to careers in the notoriously challenging fashion industry. Their ideal jobs range from designing and styling to working in the business side, from London to Berlin or Milan. Mr Burkinshaw is confident about their chances of success.

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“Last year was a record-breaking year,” he said. “Five students out of 17 went off to the Royal College of Art do to a Masters, which was not heard of before from any institution. Our students are getting places on leading postgraduate courses, which are more and more a stepping stone into the industry.

“Other students are going straight into industry – we’ve got a student in the design team at H&M in Sweden, one who got a top job in River island, students at places like Nicole Farhi and Burberry.

“Some students go out as designers, some go into buying and merchandising. They’re so well placed to work in any ­discipline.”

The Edinburgh College of Art Fashion Show will take place on April 25 and 26 at McEwan Hall, Bristo Square. Tickets cost £15 and can be purchased from Hub Tickets www.hubtickets.co.uk.