Middlesex University Graduate vies for The Britain’s Top Designer Award

Suffolk-based Francesca.R.Palumbo is a knitwear designer and graduate of Middlesex University 2017. With internships for renown names like Mark Fast and Julien Macdonald under her belt before starting her own line, she might just stand a chance. Through her work, Francesca reflects the environment and society we are living in using a variety of yarns textures, shapes, and materials creating garments that challenge people’s perception of knitwear. Francesca wants her collection to empower women making them feel confident and unique.

What motivated you to take in the competition?

I was motivated to enter Britain Top Designer as I saw it on Fashion Finest’s Instagram and thought it would be an amazing opportunity to showcase my designs, as Fashion Finest is known for supporting new and emerging talents.

How did you prepare for the competition? What was the preparation like?

My preparation for the competition has been to continue to push my knitwear through reflecting and working on my collection to be showcased. Through experiment with different yarns, techniques and colours to creating a range of knitwear that encapsulates the ethos behind my designs.

What does winning this award mean to you?

It is a very prestigious award and as a designer in the early stages of my career I feel it will give me an amazing platform to showcase my designs and move my brand forward. To have the support from Fashion Finest would make my aspirations for my brands future more achievable to have their support and guidance would be amazing.

How is the fashion industry evolving?

The fashion industry is constantly evolving and changing which is something that has always excited me. I think the movement into using social media has been a significant change in the fashion industry, as it makes it easier for new designers and brands to get their work out there and consumers to discover them. The power of blogger’s and influencers has created a new opportunity for marketing and has expanded the reach of small designers to a global audience.

Another way the fashion industry is evolving is the movement to becoming more environmentally friendly. This has always been an important issue in fashion and is becoming something all designers are having to think about.

How did you get into fashion?

Clothing and design has always been an interest having come from a dance background wearing many costumes and seeing how a garment can create a character and atmosphere. I studied textiles at high school and realised that it was more than just an interest and something I felt a real connection with. Moving on straight on to university completing a textile degree, which allowed me to not only exploring creating fabrics but allowed me to design garments. I found my love for knitwear whilst completing my degree I was amazed by what some yarns and a knitting machine could create since then my passion for knitwear was ignited. Having the opportunity to intern for two amazing knitwear designers gave me the aspiration of what is possible and showed me the career path I wanted.

What are the biggest challenges in your career

As a designer I think we are faced with many challenges in our career due to the fast pace and evolution of fashion. I feel like the biggest challenge for me has been finding the confidence to launch my own brand and taking the first steps to launching my career having only just graduated from university in July 2017.

Where does your inspiration come from?

Inspiration for my collection comes from the environment and society we live in focusing on important political, social and environmental issues. I believe its important to question and talk about what is going on in today’s society.

My latest collection was inspired by oil, looking at how our need for it is effecting the environment and wildlife around us. The collection also highlights our need to be investing in alternative environmentally friendly energy source.

My love for knitting inspires me, as I love finding new knitting techniques and pushing them to create unique fabrics, which I can use to make bespoke garments. Exploring new yarn combinations excites and inspires me with the chance to play and try new colour combinations of yarn that are unique just to me.

What drives you?

I’m driven by my passion for changing people’s concept of knitwear through showing the different texture, versatility and opportunity different yarns can offer. I want to change people’s perception of knitwear from “its just knitwear” to seeing knitting for its endless designs and textures it can achieve. My collection is already pushing people’s concept of knitwear, I love people’s reaction when you tell them its knitted this spurs my drive on.

What has been your greatest success so far?

My greatest success in the last few years has been making my graduation collection in July 2017.

Do you have a story you are particularly fond of, from the early years of your career

A story that I am particularity fond of is when I was at school we were set a design brief I went off and came up with my concept. Returning to class I started to realise my ideas were different from everyone else. My textiles tutor told me it was important to always believe in my designs and told me to always be true to myself.  This advice is something I have stuck to throughout my time at university and now in my early stage of my career.

What are your plans for the rest of 2018 and the future?

You can expect to see Francesca.R.Palumbo’s new collection for A/W 18 as well as a website and shop launch.

My plans for the future is to push my knitting further and explore more techniques to show what can be done with knitwear.

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