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Q&A with Rory Longdon

The George Gold Award winner at GFW 2011 has designed a collection for the label and been snapped up by MaxMara

You took home the George Gold Award at last year’s GFW. What did winning mean to you, both personally and professionally?

It was so overwhelming to receive such a prestigious award for a collection I had put all my heart into. I worked extremely hard to achieve a collection I was so proud of, and to have it recognised in that way was a huge reward for me. The award has opened more doors for my future career, through new contacts and via the coverage I was given.

As part of your win you designed a collection for George at Asda. What was that experience like, and what did it involve?

Designing the collection was very exciting. I initially worked in-house at George alongside the brand’s knitwear designer, choosing yarns and techniques to best represent my graduate collection. We passed sketches quickly to factories in Turkey, then in the next few weeks we were in the factory to see the prototypes. Over the following few weeks I attended fitting sessions at the George headquarters to see the final alterations.

You’ve been working as a knitwear designer at MaxMara since September last year. How did that come about, what does your job involve, and what has the experience been like?

The MaxMara position came up after they spotted my work at the British Fashion Council (BFC) open day. I was invited to send more work and then I attended an interview at their headquarters in Italy. I was offered the job the next day. For the past seven months I’ve been developing the knitwear collection for their Max&Co line, which involves me researching, developing fabrics, sketching the pieces and seeing them through fittings until production. Just recently I’ve been given some exciting projects, working on two other lines within the MaxMara group.

Last year the LFW graduates seemed to opt for a more commercial aesthetic. Under the current climate, where competition for jobs is fierce, how important is it to marry creative vision with commercial appeal?

I didn’t intentionally opt to take a commercial route with my collection; I just did what felt right. As a designer I love to marry beautiful fabrications with a wearable silhouette. So I guess my collection seems commercial from afar, but the fabrications take it to that next level when you look more closely [at the garments]. I think it’s important to show future employers that you have a creative vision yet you have the ability to translate this into something that people want to buy.

What advice would you give to this year’s winner?

Be proud of what you’ve achieved, take in all the advice you are given and try out every opportunity that is offered to you.

Who are your style icons?

I really love the style of the Olsen twins [celebrity fashion designers, Mary-Kate and Ashley]. They’re always elegant with a rough edge.

What’s next for you?

I want to remain working in the industry for a while so I can continue to build my knowledge within my field. However, in the near future I hope to do another Rory Longdon knitwear collection.

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