Report By Daniel Evans
Girl power was the name of the game at Golden Shears 2023 as three young women walked away with the honours at this year’s prestigious event. And, unlike in recent times, it was the college entries which dominated, ahead of the trade contestants. First prize and The Golden Shears went to Mila Dastugue from The Wimbledon College of Arts with Victoria Demekhina, from The Tailoring Academy, collecting The Silver Shears. The Rising Star was Imogen Pike, also from The Wimbledon College of Arts.
The presentations were made at a packed Merchant Taylors’ Hall on Monday night with all 22 finalists – whittled down from more than 70 entries – presenting their finished works in stunning surroundings in front of family, friends and industry experts.
Simon Cundey, Chairman of Golden Shears and MD of Henry Poole & Co, could not have been happier with the evening. “We’re delighted to be back as a live show after the pandemic and at this historic and amazing venue,” he said. “It’s lovely to be live. That is a big thing for us. Having the rapport with everyone – the families, the college lecturers, the trade shouting and screaming for their entries was fantastic. It is imperative that the clothing industry does all it can to motivate the next generation of fashion leaders and nothing demonstrates that better than the Golden Shears competition.
Click here for Golden Shears Gallery 2023
“It was big transformation this year with a swing towards the colleges. It shows that if you get the right lecturer and your lecturer gives you the inspiration to do something special, you can win Golden Shears. And it’s quite dramatic for me to see that. It was incredible to see the colleges come through so well this time. Wimbledon were very strong, so, too, Sunderland and Rochester. They are real class acts now. And I’m super happy to see three women win.”
Mila, who also won a cheque for £3,000, was blown away with her victory. “I’m extremely happy to have won,” she said. “I put in so much work and I was really hoping to do well but not expecting. From design to finishing took 500 hours. My entry was inspired by the 1930s – Marlene Dietrich and Elsa Schiaparelli. The 1930s is such a nice period for art and one of the first periods with women in suits. I’m interning at Thom Sweeney at the moment and I really would like to be a cutter.”
Runner-up Victoria, who received a cheque for £2,500, explained: “I started my journey in fashion less than two years ago and it’s unbelievable to win this award. Tailoring has been my passion since I was at school. I moved to this country with my husband before Covid and then went to The Tailoring Academy in Macclesfield. I’m currently working at Samuel Brothers in Aldershot. They do military tailoring. Looking ahead, I want to be in tailoring, absolutely.”
Imogen, who was presented with a cheque for £2,000, said: “It’s amazing. I’m so surprised and so excited to win this. I study costume design and am really interested in history. I’d love to work on Savile Row some day.”
The Golden Shears, known as “The Oscars of the Tailoring World” were founded in 1974 by Robert Bright, MBE. Entrants are either apprentices with a tailoring company or university/college students on a tailoring course. All have to demonstrate excellence in both their design and tailoring skills and be vetted by their master or course leader. This year, from over 70 entries, 22 were selected on technical merit to go through to this week’s final and be judged by a celebrity style panel.
This year, the Technical Judges were: Joe Morgan, Chittleborough & Morgan; Dario Canera, Huntsman; Victoria Townsend, The London Academy of Bespoke; Juan Carlos Benito, Hackett; Davide Taub, Gieves & Hawkes. The Style Judges were: Kirby Allison, Tony Gaziano, Harry Jarman, and Hilary and Michael Whitehall.
The participating colleges and companies were: Anderson & Sheppard, London College of Fashion, UAL, Cosprop, Inkberrow design centre (IDC College), Leeds Arts University, Morgan and Fenwick, Savile Row Academy, The Tailoring Academy, The University of Sunderland, University for the Creative Arts Rochester and Wimbledon College of the Arts, UAL. The evening was hosted by Nick Hewer.
The event was held with the support of CAPITB Trust, The Merchant Taylors’ Company, The Pollen Estate, The Textile Institute and Savile Row Gin.