Drapers catches up with last year’s Graduate Fashion Week George Gold Award winner about what she’s been up to since scooping the top prize and how it felt to feature on the front cover of Drapers.
Bath Spa University graduate Grace Weller was 21 when she won a double accolade for best womenswear collection and the headline George Gold Award. The latter included £10,000 and the chance to design her own line of clothing for Asda’s fashion arm George, GFW’s main sponsor. She joined previous Gold Award winners such as Burberry’s Christopher Bailey, Julien Macdonald and Stella McCartney.
Her darkly romantic and exquisitely intricate designs were the standout collection at last year’s event. She has since returned to education, enrolling on the Fashion MA course at Central Saint Martins.
You won the 2014 George Gold Award at Graduate Fashion Week. How did it feel when they announced your name?
It was a very surreal experience. Overwhelming and incredibly exciting!
What has been the best thing about winning?
Winning this award has given me so many opportunities and it has been a great platform for me to promote my work. Most importantly, it gave me confidence and belief in my ability to move on to the next step in my career.
You were featured on the cover of Drapers magazine after winning your award. How did that feel?
Drapers is an iconic industry magazine so to be featured on the front of such an amazing publication was a real honour. My mum has had a subscription to Drapers for years so to get the issue with my photograph on the front was a very proud moment for me.
Why do you think your collection won the top prize?
My collection was very emotive with a romantic sensibility and I think this struck a chord with the judges. The bold colours and intricate detail of the embroidery made the collection stand out.
A year later, do you still like your collection?
Yes, I feel very proud of it. It is still being sent around to a lot of different photographers and stylists, though, so I haven’t really seen it much!
What have you been doing in the year since you won?
I started the Fashion MA course at Central Saint Martins in October, so I have been experimenting with embroidery and textiles a lot following on from my BA collection. I have been given complete freedom to explore different techniques and ideas so it has been an amazing year.
What have you learned during that time?
I have learned to believe in my aesthetic and style, and to have that thing that makes my work individual and personal to me.
As part of your prize you spent some time working with George. What did it teach you?
Working with George was an amazing experience. I got to see how a company of that size operates, which was very interesting. During my time there I was given a lot of freedom and independence to design the range based on my collection and I enjoyed trying to find ways of interpreting my embroidery into commercial high street designs.
Where would you like to be in your career in 10 years’ time?
It has always been a dream of mine to work in a couture house.
What advice would you give to this year’s winner?
Make the most of all of the amazing opportunities winning affords you. Don’t be scared to promote your own work after winning and be proud of the achievement.