An intimate event, it began with a champagne reception, smoothly leading to new faces from Models1 gliding down the the runway showcasing key pieces from the designers’ collections. Sat front row were the prolific judges - Manolo Blahnik, Stephen Jones,Daphne Guiness, Elizabeth Saltzman, Gianluca Longo, Yasmin Le Bon and chairperson Bronwyn Cosgrave - whose collective decision resulted in Mr. Tait receiving an award of £25,000, a new studio accommodation and an event thrown in his name at any of the nine international Dorchester Collection hotels.
Born in Canada and having studied in Montreal and London Thomas is the youngest student to have studied under Louise Wilson’s guidance at the Central Saint Martin’s MA course in womenswear design. His design aesthetic draws inspiration from “clean lines” and the “natural human figure”, resulting in simply cut fabric left without the business of frills and detail with stripped-back accessories.
After the announcement of the winner, the seating arrangement soon diluted onto the floor and whilst a Beaton-esque tableau of Mary Katrantzou’s models stood against a backdrop of dramatic silk curtains I spoke to Yasmin Le Bon, who was wearing a sleevless cut-out Alaia dress. “The other designers are fairly established compared to Thomas and so this award will really give him the leg-up in the industry” Yasmin told me. “He has so much potential and this award will really give him the platform to showcase to alarger audience and to develop his business.”
Catching uber-milliner Stephen Jones on his way backstage, he took some time to talk to me. “Personally, it was a balance of how much potential the designer has and how much they need the money” he explained, “Thomas can really use this money, he’s genuinely talented and he shows a fresh and new aesthetic.” Similarly Daphne Guiness, the couture-club member and muse to several designers, praised Thomas for his “futuristic aesthetic and his approach to being a designer”. “One must have the whole package to be a designer; the personality, the talent, the creativity” she told me, “That’s what Lee was and why he was such a successful designer, he truly was the whole package.”
Without a doubt each of the short-listed designers have benefited from the spotlight of the Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize. Louise Goldin and Mary Katrantzou show their collections at London Fashion Week (Click to see our review of Mary’s show) and Chaur Har Lee and Hermione de Paula have gained significant press coverage.
All five of the designers featured are on the radar of many a fashion editor thanks to the initiative - Looks like there was more than one winner after all.
Daphne Guiness and Manolo Blahnik
Thomas Tait surrounded by the prolific judges
Thomas Tait and his models wearing his collection
Osman Ahmed and Daphne Guiness
Mary Katrantzou SS11
Hermione de Paula SS11
Louise Goldin SS11
Chau Har Lee SS11
Special Thanks to Peretti Communications, Marie Deenmamode and Bronwyn Cosgrave
WORDS: Osman Ahmed
IMAGES: Marie Deenmamode http://www.flickr.com/photos/mariedeen