Last season, flashbulbs and champagne flutes heralded the crowning of the second year’s class of BFC/ELLE Talent Launch Pad winners. Claudia Catzeflis, Sophie Hulme, Saloni Lodha and Vassilisa, designed by Nadja Solovieva, would receive stockists, exhibition space, editorial support from ELLE and mentorship from top London brands.
So, we wondered as the autumn-winter 2012 season of London Fashion Week shows got underway, how were they doing?
We found two of the designers manning their rails in a sun-soaked exhibition space on the first floor of Somerset House.
Catzeflis said advice from ELLE Market and Merchandising Editor Bonnie Rakhit and Stella McCartney Merchandising Manager Yeda Yun has helped refine her design vision.
‘Before, I was using very, very delicate fabrics, and I think that was slightly unapproachable for a new designer,’ Catzeflis said of her signature blouses. ‘I’ve tried to make it feel a little less precious and a little bit more wearable,’ by pairing the hand-pulled-silk with more substantial fabrics and introducing classic shapes.
The work has paid off in the form of positive feedback from buyers at Liberty, The Corner and China’s Fei Space, who took the time to look over her sample rails during LFW.
‘The recognition that ELLE has given me is just fantastic,’ she said. ‘It’s something I can always have on my CV and include when I introduce myself. It is really an accolade that gets me in the door.’
Just down the hall, Hulme welcomed press and buyers to her first solo presentation. The toy dinosaur-themed collection reflected the continued strength of Hulme’s armour-accented handbags and outerwear, and an expansion into knitwear.
‘The sales have been really exciting this season,’ Hulme said. Along with adding ecommerce partner My-Wardrobe, ‘we just picked up Liberty and Harvey Nichols, and we’re still doing great in Selfridges. We’ve got a lot going on. The support from ELLE has been really exciting.’
Solovieva, the Vassilisa designer, said she has also had ‘a really outstanding season.’ Her collection of ‘dark, animalistic, entrancing’ printed silk scarves, Bohemian blouses and lampshade skirts has earned the loyalty of retailers involved in the TLP scheme.
‘All the retailers who placed an order with me as part of the programme have repeated the order,’ she said. ‘It means they like the product and that we’ll continue to build our relationships... I’m really lucky.’