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Material wealth

This year's Texprint awards celebrated the best of the UK's graduate textile talent, with illustrious names among the judges. Laura Jackson was there to meet them

Textiles charity Texprint may have celebrated its 35th birthday last year, but it is certainly not showing its age, with judges citing the freshness and innovation of its chosen graduate designers that continue to lift the 2007 exhibition.

Three weeks of judging by industry experts whittled 200 graduate textiles designers down to the final 24 for the Texprint First View show, held in the Chelsea College of Art & Design. Judges this year included Diane von Furstenberg, Jasper Conran, former Texprint winners Laura Watson and Katharine Pulford, and Aquascutum heads of design Michael Herz and Graeme Fidler. Other past Texprint winners include designer Alice Temperley and knitwear designer Louise Goldin.

Designs covered a wide spectrum of ideas. Oriental silks sat next to bridal-influenced satin and chiffon, Japanese bird motif prints and forest themes, while building interiors gave rise to neon geometric prints.

Texprint creative director Peter Ring-Lefevre said: "I am pleased with the overall design standard this year. We had four or five 'wow' pieces in 2006 that made us gasp, but this year all the work is impressive."

All 24 finalists will go on to show at Indigo, part of Premiere Vision, in Paris this September. "Indigo is such a great opportunity for these students to put their work out there," said Ring-Lefevre. The winners of the six awards also received a cash prize and the chance to exhibit at the Interstoff Asia Essential Exhibition in Hong Kong in October.

THE JUDGES

Diane von Furstenberg

Judge for Print award, sponsored by Liberty Fabric

"I believe there is often more creativity in the UK than elsewhere in the world, and good prints are crucial for creating beautiful clothes. I've seen at least three students' work I could use, and I'm impressed with the designs. If something is beautiful, it will sell. The eye is what makes a designer."

Jasper Conran

Judge for Colour award, sponsored by Pantone Europe

"We don't survive as designers unless we have good printers and weavers. Texprint allows us to encourage young talent. I have been impressed with the designs, and the graduates are very open to suggestions. There are some great students here who are really pushing the boundaries."

Laura Watson, Saltwater

Judge for Knit award, spon-sored by Scottish Enterprise - Textiles

"All the entrants have shown a great grasp of technique mixed with good use of colour and great research. I am pleased with the commercial viability - it is hard to be creative yet still have a commercial veneer. There are some lovely prints, and it is great to chat to the students."

Michael Herz & Graeme Fidler, Aquascutum

Judges for Breaking New Ground award, sponsored by Mode Information

"These awards are important on so many levels - the industry needs people who concentrate on fabric to create materials for us to work with. There is beautiful work here, and that will lead to real success for some of these designers."

Prize: Print

Winner: Cecile Utge-Royo

Judged by: Diane von Furstenberg

"These awards are great, because they provide new designers with their first important step onto the career ladder when it is difficult to know where to start. My designs are inspired by underwear and I used transparency and multi-layering to make something that is revealing yet still concealing."

Diane von Furstenberg: "Cecile has an incredible eye, a great sense of colour, interesting patterns and an organic freshness that I was very impressed with."

Prize: Knit

Winner: Alice Palmer

Judged by: Laura Watson, Saltwater

"I'm so pleased to win this award, as I really think it will open up great opportunities for me in the future. My designs are all inspired by Morocco, and I have used sculptural arches and buildings to create my shape and form."

Laura Watson: "Alice's techniques and swatches are fantastic. She has a real depth to her work, which shows a lot of potential. She has had no fashion assistance and did everything herself, which makes it all the more special."

Prize: Colour

Winner: Edward Foster

Judged by: Jasper Conran

"My work is a reflection of my thoughts on the world. It is more than just pretty patterns, and I like to think it conveys that depth of meaning and commands respect."

Jasper Conran: "Edward's work is brave, strong and doesn't hold back. He has already pushed the boundaries of what textiles can do and I think he could push them even further. The poetry and depth of his thinking is extraordinary, and his uncompromising use of colour is superb."

Prize: Weave

Winner: Kaori Ueda

Judged by: Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi, 6267

"I'm a big fan of Italian design, so I'm particularly pleased I had Italian judges and that they liked my work. My inspiration came from a Swedish craft course I attended. I used the ideas to create what I hope are heart-warming images."

Tommaso Aquilano & Roberto Rimondi: "Kaori had the most interesting weave and offered a new take on set prints. She had a lightness and air to her work, and a great use of colour."

Prize: Breaking New Ground

Winner: Hyuna Less

Judged by: Michael Herz and Graeme Fidler, Aquascutum

"My designs are all about making a connection between the body and the space around us. I want to bridge that gap using my loom work, and I'm really pleased that the judges understood exactly what I was trying to do."

Michael Herz & Graeme Fidler: "Her work is absolutely beautiful. The illustration is amazing and the sketchbook is fantastic, while the collection shows she is a very dedicated designer."

Prize: Interior Fashion

Winner: Lucy Robbie

Judged by: Katharine Pulford, Habitat

"Being judged by a Habitat designer was really important to me because if I wanted to furnish my house, I would definitely go to Habitat to do it. My designs are based on the art of origami, using dyes, print and sprays on both paper and fabric."

Katharine Pulford: "Her simple patterns were very good. She was articulate in her designs, showed great craftsmanship and good compatibility with the industry."

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