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Winner of our graduate design talent competition announced


Karen, Maria and Ben

Our Manchester Metropolitan University graduate winner has been announced!

We are pleased to reveal that Maria Hawkins was selected by our judges – Designer Ben De Lisi, Design Director at Debenhams Karen Peacock and Manchester Evening News Fashion Writer Deborah Linton plus our Facebook fans.

Those on our official Facebook page were able to ‘like’ the collection they thought should win and those votes acted as our 4th judge. Thanks to everyone who showed their support for our talented finalists.

Here’s what Maria had to say about her win:

“I’m really excited about winning, it has already been an amazing experience so I can’t wait to get started and spend time with Debenhams this summer. Before this competition I had started to look at buying roles, but winning this competition and the amazing feedback I’ve had from the judges has really given me the confidence to do what I really want to do – design.”

You can take a look at her collection which caught the eye of the judges below…

Maria's collection

And here is why our judges loved Maria’s designs…

Ben de Lisi said “Maria’s collection was pure effortless and luxe. The collection is commercial without being boring, it is considered, chic and ready for sale now. This is a designer who knows her customer and market and is not frightened to create for it.

Karen Peacock explained that “Maria showed great confidence in producing such a simple collection. Simple, but well considered, wearable and flattering shapes with colours that were striking yet soft at the same time. She ensured that special attention was paid to the quality and that is incredibly important for simple clothes.”

Deborah Linton commented that”Maria’s collection shone for its simple elegance and attention to detail. The colour and fabric combinations have created something wearable but special to women of different ages. Maria’s mature and considered approach to her designs and the place they would occupy in the market also made her stand out. All three finalists were strong and should be commended for beautiful collections.”

A big congratulations again to our winner Maria Hawkins! Keep an eye out here and via Twitter and Facebook for news of when you’ll be able to order her collection in the Manchester store.

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