On the night of the 23rd May, the city of Gorlitz in Saxon played host to the Euro Fashion Awards, an international platform for young fashion designers coming from a selection of the top Fashion & Art schools around the continent.
The event took place at Kaufthaus, and old building in the city centre of Gorlitz, dating back to 1912 and the Art Nouveau period. With a central hand crafted dome, visible from any of the four open floors, the and a grand staircase, one can easily be transported back to the opulence from former times where the building housed one of the most beautiful department stores in Germany. This year, after extensive renovation, the Kaufthaus will re-open its doors to the public once again as a Concept Department Store.
The Kaufhaus building has a great story behind and well know as one of the most Beautiful Department stores in Germany that will be re-open anytime this year becoming a Concept Department Shop, the interior renovation is not finished, but had impressed the present guests, making the Euro Fashion Awards 2016 a very special edition.
The organisation of the event was second to none, with great attention to detail. The 11 fashion designers who presented a short preview of 11 pieces each saw their works judged by nine fashion professionals from different areas of the fashion industry.
The selected jury included Margareta van den Bosch, Creative Advisor and Chief Designer H&M; Steen Halbro, Textile Professor at ENSAD Paris; Ann-Merete Ohrt, Fashion Profesor at Königlich Dänischen Art Academie; Alexander Krenn, Cheif Designer in Denmark; Martina Glomb, Fashion Professor at Horschule Hannover; Elena Strahova, President of Batic Fashion Federation; Gudrun Allstädt; Irina Sowitzki, Fashion Designer. The overall winner was Anastasia Lotikova with the collection Shui who was the winner prize of 30,000 euros, Anna Bornhold for KISS A FROG, BUT ONLY WITH BRUSHED TEETH won the second place and took home 20,000 euros. In third place was Label Zukker by Heike Becker/Benjamin Kräher/ Sebastian Schettler with the collection BERGWERTUNG. The blogger nominee choice award was for the collection Bad News by Katharina Buczek.
The winner Shui (collection name) from Belarus presented a unique collection where the fabrics used in the collection were recyclable fibres that has been hand crafted and sewn together creating a new textile medium. The extravagance in the collection was truly astounding, with many “WOW’s” from the audience, with design parallels to Haute Couture Pieces.
From a personal perspective, the collections were very consistent with many designers catching the attention of press, bloggers and guests present. All 11 designers showcased collections with high creativity, high development and enthusiasm showcasing new improved resources, avant-garde wearables, conceptual pieces, handmade patterns and examples of sustainable resource development. I was particularly impressed with the creativity and inspiration they will add through new ideas to the fashion industry.
After seeing all the collections, I had the opportunity to sneak in the backstage to talk with the different designers and examine their collections in greater detail. Interesting all the collections featured a high level of creativity in sourcing a variety of sustainable resource to create beautiful the beautiful works , which will no doubt have a profound effect on the future of the fashion industry. Though the designers were very young, the maturity of their concept brings us to think about future and how we can make the fashion industry work in harmony with mother nature.
We ended the awards by networking with the super fashion jury in our private press lounge. Knowing the background of the jury, I could not contain myself to have a little chat with couple of them, to ask their personal perspectives about different themes evolving in the future of the industry and young fashion designers.
Having a little chat with Margareta van den Bosch, Creative Advisor and Chief Designer of H&M on the future of the industry, she told me the designers nowadays have a hard time to cut through in such a competitive industry, but it’s not impossible to become a Fashion Designer. Her point behind is today new designers instead of thinking on his first collection when he finish their studies, those students should first have a fashion experience inside of Fashion Companies to get to know the real world, the fashion business is about experience that you must acquire together with knowledge when you work for a establish fashion company in the sector you can have this experience, just been a good designer is not enough today she added.
The other point came in the table was about the winning designer and her sustainable collection. I asked how H&M is planning of becoming a green company in the long terms and how she is ensuring this commitment. My point with touched on whether it is a good marketing exercise, or whether H&M genuinely feels they are ecologically correct and whether H&M’s main goal is to become an example in the fashion industry. She was very precise saying today H&M main goal is to become a green company with a long term plan to become, and achieve this. She added the information about H&M being the only global fashion company with a commitment to the environment is deeply rooted in the company’s philosophy and not just a marketing campaign.
I also had the opportunity to meet with Steen Halbro, Textile Professor at ENSAD Paris. Steen was a great personality and I asked him about his thoughts on Biocouture?, He was very quick to say this is the future of the fashion. He told me how different companies and countries are starting to investigate this new kind biotechnology. The biocouture is still a new theme, but he believes in the upcoming years it will be crucial for future of fashion. Having a wine with Steen I also asked him about the future of these young designers and whether their creativity will be absorbed by the wider industry. He was clear the industry it is in a critical point, but noted the answer is rooted in business preparation where research is important in all the levels, and experience is key.
I also met with Ann-Merete Ohrt, Fashion Profesor at Königlich Dänischen Art Academie. She’s a Professor at one of the most prestigious academies where only 15 people are accepted a year. I told Ann how impressed I’m over the years with the power of ideas of the Scandinavian fashion industry and how many Avant-garde designers like Henrik Vibskov or Stine Goya have brought new concepts to the fashion industry. I asked her why Scandinavia isn’t a prestige fashion destination like Paris, Milan, London, NY, Sao Paulo, Beijing? She laughed stating the Scandinavian culture is very calm, democratic, austere, with a lot of respect for Paris and the way they are organised.
Another theme brought us to discuss, how she belongs to a prestige fashion academy and how she see the growth of many fashion courses and school everywhere this past years. But that many of those students leave their academies with no knowledge. She said at thiss moment there are many institutions taking advantage of this new fashion trend, that isn’t great for the industry as it brings many unprepared professionals, but to survive in this industry you must receive a good educational basis.