Some of the biggest names in the intimate apparel industry have sung the praises of Contour Fashion students from De Montfort University, whose designs graced the catwalk at a London fashion show last week.
The 90-minute show, which took place at Covent Garden’s Freemason’s Hall on June 8, featured collections created by 22 final-year students as DMU Contour Fashion – the oldest course of its kind in the world – celebrated its 70th anniversary.
The students, whose collections ranged from lingerie and swimwear to corsetry and nightwear, had been selected to take part following a tough selection process, involving industry experts who have formed links with DMU via the Contour Fashion course leader Gillian Proctor.
Retail giant Debenhams was the headline sponsor for the event, while industry leaders from Coco de Mer, Boux Avenue, Tommy Hilfiger, Janet Reger, F&F, Tu and Curvy Kate took up seats to see the next generation of top designers.
Aliza Reger is the daughter of the legendary Janet Reger, and took over her mother’s luxury brand in 2005. Janet Reger was among the first students to study Contour Fashion at DMU before setting up her world famous business.
Commenting on the show, Aliza said: “We had the most magnificent venue, the whole staging of the show was superb and the talent was exceptional. I can’t single anything out as it wouldn’t be fair. I really did love the whole show. My mother was one of the first to study Contour Fashion at the university so I am very proud to be here.”
Tracey Randall, former executive vice-president of Design Bra Launch and Innovation at Victoria’s Secret USA, is a DMU alumni who graduated 20 years ago.
She said: “I graduated from the course back when it was a polytechnic in the 90’s and our end-of-year show was in the Students’ Union on a Saturday evening, so this is far beyond what we ever experienced.
“It is such a fantastic occasion for students to showcase their work and it is really impressive what Gillian and her team have managed to put together this year,” she continued.
“I was lucky enough to speak to students in New York in January at Victoria’s Secret headquarters and offer them words of advice as a former pupil of the course.
“I thought the designs were exceptional and the students have really showcased their creative talents and done themselves proud in front of their parents, friends and industry professionals.”
Sam Tretton, design manager for Tommy Hilfiger men’s and women’s underwear, also graduated from DMU’s Contour Fashion course.
Commenting on the 2017 show, she said: “The venue was a real showstopper and I loved the glitz in the show – that really caught my eye. Glitz is definitely back.
“The story telling also came through in every single collection. They were each full of personality and pizzazz.
“The high quality workmanship only comes from the DMU Contour course and their alumni. It is another level.”
DMU Chancellor Baroness Doreen Lawrence was enthralled by the show. She said: “I thought the show was brilliant, but I had real difficulty in picking out a favourite design, I thought they were all exceptional.
“If I did have to pick two that really caught my eye, I would say the blue designs which came out first (Ellie Gough) and the oriental designs too (Abigail Mellor), but they all impressed me.
“Students were in the presence of industry professionals who could potentially give them a job in the future and it’s great to see how keen and interested they all are to see the student designs.
“Gillian is fantastic and I know how difficult it must be to organise the course and get students to this point, but what she’s done is a real credit to her.”
Students who saw their designs take to the runway said they were overwhelmed by the occasion.
Tamzin Grigg, whose collection was influenced by antique porcelain dolls and dolls’ houses, said: “Today has been such a surreal experience and it was incredibly nerve-wracking watching it backstage.
“The whole day has been brilliant and what an amazing setting to celebrate such a fantastic occasion for all of us.
“It has been the perfect end to our three years- it is the icing on the cake.”
Sophie Welborn drew her influence from the Burj Hotel in Dubai. She said: “Today has been an amazing, overwhelming and surreal experience to end such a brilliant three years at DMU.
“It is surreal to see the models walk out in your designs. Seeing everyone come together to appreciate what we do means so much.”
Tara O’Donovan, whose influence was 1970s constructions and the famous Broadway club Studio 54, added: “This whole experience is a dream come true for me.
“It is such a privilege for the course to give us this opportunity and what better way for potential future employers to see our work.
Jessie Drabble drew influences from the Sheffield steel industry and the women who kept it alive.
She commented: “I feel a bit overwhelmed and a bit emotional because this is it for my time studying Contour Fashion at DMU. I am so happy that after all that work the show went without a hitch and I am excited about the future.”