editorial image

DEBBIE McLeod (20), a second-year Fashion Design student at Robert Gordon University’s Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen, has won a prestigious accolade from luxury textiles, clothing and accessories company, Johnstons of Elgin.

The former Mintlaw Academy pupil was awarded the Johnstons of Elgin Cashmere Award for her contemporary jumpsuit design – created with the company’s unique heritage in mind.

Second-year students from the BA (Hons) Fashion Design course at Gray’s were invited to create garments made from an array of luxury cashmere fabrics, provided by Johnstons of Elgin, to a design brief which focused on late 18th century fashion coinciding with the year 1797, when the company was founded.

After researching trends and styles of dress, Debbie offered her own unique take on the period by designing a lavish jumpsuit.

She explains: “In the late 18th century, men’s fashion focused on confident and elegant styles. I wanted to take these qualities but reflect them in a design for the modern, working woman.”

Debbie’s design features a grey and black striped top-half with trousers made from a heavier material with a silver and black weave. The budding designer also experimented with pattern-cutting and irregular seams to subtly update the look of a normal trouser suit.

She continues: “Taking the 2011 trend for jumpsuits, I wanted to evoke the 1980s power-dressing phenomenon by adding shoulder-pads and structured pockets. I chose a heavier material for the trousers to ensure they hung straight to outline a womanly silhouette.

“My aim was to capture a design that the ideal Johnstons of Elgin customer would want to buy, while at the same time incorporating up-to-the-minute trends from the fast-moving fashion industry.”

James Dracup, group managing director of Johnstons, adds: “The quality of work exhibited by all the second year students was outstanding. However, Debbie’s design was exceptional. Firstly, we were impressed by her selection and use of fabrics which co-ordinated together beautifully.

“ This combined with a dynamic and contemporary cut made her design the outright winner”.

Debbie comments: “I’m delighted to have won the award as it was an honour to work with such an esteemed company as Johnstons of Elgin. Their contribution to the course has been very valuable to our learning development giving us the opportunity to work with such a wide variety of fine materials.

“It’s been the best project I’ve worked on so far and has certainly boosted my confidence as a designer.”

Laura Hardingham, Fashion Applications Supervisor at the University, adds: “The ongoing support and opportunities for collaboration from the team at Johnstons of Elgin is greatly appreciated at the School.

“As well as providing students with the chance to work on live industry projects and gain vital hands-on experience, students have also built on their professionalism by working with high-end, quality fabrics.”

Debbie, who has also been offered a three-month placement working with the head of fashion design at Gray’s in September, was presented with the trophy by Mr Dracup, at the Gray’s School of Art Graduate Fashion Show on Thursday, June 2, to an audience of invited guests.