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Where is today's top talent?

01 Mar 2013
New and exciting design talent has been showcased throughout September at the international fashion weeks.

Buyers on the lookout for fresh design talent will no doubt focus on the various international fashion weeks taking place during September.

They are the perfect places for fashion houses and emerging labels to showcase their ideas on the world stage, hoping to lead trends and establish reputations.

But where in the world has stood out with their spring-summer 2013 collections and which names may have stuck in the mind of fashion executives?

New York Fashion Week (September 5th-13th)
While designers from the US and western Europe dominated much of New York Fashion Week it was perhaps those from further afield who really made an impression.
Young Russian designers were easily one of the surprise highlights of the event, with Katya Leonovich, Ulyana Sergeenko and Vika Gazinskaya fusing together traditional imagery with modern styles and colour schemes.

St Petersburg designer Alexey Sorokin told Forbes that unlike many designers he was proud to take inspiration from his home country.

However, speaking ahead of his Homo Consommatus collection launch, presented by Depesha, he claimed that the Russian designer "cliché" can be problematic when dealing with international markets. This could be the start of further interest from this huge country, as the publisher of Depesha magazine, Stephan Rabimov, recently told Forbes that the Russian fashion industry "makes a significant contribution to the economies of the US, France, Italy, UK and Japan".

"If Russia wants to diversify its economy, investing and supporting the fashion industry is a smart choice," he added.

London Fashion Week (September 14th-18th)
London Fashion Week prides itself in celebrating young talent, displaying a vast array of international and home-grown designers. This year three designers in particular were given a chance to showcase their work on the prestigious runway, including Holland's Maarten Van Der Host, Hong-Kong born Ryan Lo and London-based designer Claire Barrow.

Van Der Host used streetwear influences, including newspaper and graffiti prints for an urban theme, contrasting against innovative Swarovski crystal embellished animal patterns.

Self-taught Lo meanwhile showcased his maximalist DIY approach to design with a selection of ball gowns crafted from pink tulle, fuchsia fur, silk and fishnets.

Young graduate Claire Barrow however, managed to steal the show with her hand-painted leather jackets, embroidered silk dresses and self-modelled "rebellious" outfits.

Each of these designers earned high praise from not only home audiences but also the international fashion industry, signalling that they could be poised for further opportunities and design success.

Milan Fashion Week (September 19th-24th)
Milan's instalment was perhaps the most international of all the weeks, with fashion buyers, press and consumers flocking from Russia and China making up the bulk of the foreign visitors.

Pitti Immagine shows ran from Milan have seen a huge increase in visitors from Russia, the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, the Middle East and Japan, all of which come to experience something different than what they might expect from New York and Paris.
Some seven per cent came from Japan, 39 per cent from Russia and 12 per cent from the UK, the show revealed.

Particular focus was given to the high quality craftsmanship of Italian designers with embroidery a particular popular addition to Dolce & Gabbana and Emporio Armani's collections.

Japanese and Chinese influences were also evident, especially in Prada's show, which featured overt imagery and traditional dress such as kimonos, coloured silks and geisha clogs.

Paris Fashion Week (September 25th- October 3rd)
As the last city on the list of international fashion weeks, Paris has a lot to prove, however with a focus on texture and the fusion of cultures it certainly lived up to its trendsetting reputation.

French knitwear designer Alice Lemoine gave her woollen wear a fresh twist using slick, fluid shapes in rich spring colours, taking inspiration from her famous alumnus Rick Owens.

Belgian-born designer Anthony Vaccarello managed to capture his audience's attention in an unusual monochrome summer collection, delivering a slick and edgy show in black and white.

But this wasn't the theme throughout, as South Korean designer Moon Young Hee used subtle hints of colour and post-punk design house Impasse de la Defense channelled German street style.

This included contemporary patchwork dresses, tulle skirts, large clock-print shawls and imaginative camera imagery, as they focused on the cross-over of space and time, using international influences and timepieces to create an haute couture and extravagant display.

Nurturing design talent
Caroline Rush, Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council (BFC), claims that the council's main aims are to nurture new design talent, beginning at grass roots levels in colleges and working towards helping them find funding and commercial opportunities.

"We have exceptional home-grown talent," she argued, citing London's art and fashion colleges as being "the best in the world". "You only have to look at how many world class designers we have … We recently awarded four students recipients of our MA scholarship scheme, which is originally awarded to just the one participant. This is due to the sheer talent and skills at this level," she explained.

Rush then advised that companies looking to find the best design talent could look to one of the several talent schemes and initiatives run by the BFC.

Each of these highlights "the talent we have here in the UK," she said, including the "talent identification incubator schemes such as Fashion East, Fashion Fringe and the Centre of Fashion Enterprise are all dedicated to developing and showcasing young talent," making them a great port of call for employers, Rush recommended.

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