Talent-spotting at Fashion Week

By Jan Shure, February 14, 2008
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As fashionistas flocked to the capital to show off their new lines this week, three hot young designers stood out

Gabby Harris

Making her debut at London Fashion Week this season is Central St Martin’s College graduate Gabby Harris, who has fitted in production of her second — and highly acclaimed — knitwear collection while preparing for her July wedding in Israel.

Harris launched a T-shirt collection under the label Studd when she left college, then spent a couple of years away from fashion as a sculptor.

For her new autumn/winter collection — all in cashmere — the 30-year-old designer has created little pie-crust-frilled knit tops that finish at the hip, ’60s-inspired knit dresses and ladylike cashmere knit coats, as well as wearable basics, all produced in neutrals along with a rainbow of pinks, corals, blues, yellows and greens.

“I had three years off from fashion, when I was sculpting,” she says. “But when you are involved in fashion, you can’t get away from it. With this collection, I wanted to design easy, wearable and young pieces that are affordable.” She has already sold the collection to around 20 independent London boutiques, and is waiting to hear whether Harrods will follow up its interest in buying her clothes.

Zoe Halfon

Halfon, the designing hand behind the Pappa Razzi range of handbags, is responsible for some of the most acclaimed accessories on show at Fashion Week.

Some of her clutch bags are plain, others are trimmed with medium- or large-sized bows or bands of satin ribbon, in leather and op-art for daytime, or gold, silver, fake-snake, silver brocade, and leopard for evening.

For Halfon, fashion runs in the family. Her parents were in the business for 30 years, manufacturing for the high street, before Zoe, 28, got involved.

“I qualified as a lawyer, and only went in to the business to help out when my dad had an operation,” she says.

“We decided that the way the market was going, we needed a brand to show our design capabilities. The Pappa Razzi label began with clutch bags made in Italy from moulded magazine covers, and then expanded into eveningwear and daywear fabrics.

“Probably the greatest thrill for me, as the designer, was going to a party a little while ago. A girl standing next to me had a Pappa Razzi gold bag, which she had bought in a Belgravia boutique. One of my friends told her, ‘This is the designer’. It was such a great moment.” Stockists include Fenwick stores throughout the UK, Topshop at Oxford Circus, and dozens of independent boutiques across the country, as well as major department stores in Italy and Hong Kong.

Sara Berman

If you fell in love with the Burberry Prorsum gold raincoat, as worn by American Vogue editor Anna Wintour at last year’s New York tribute to British fashion, you will love the muted gold, belted raincoat, part of a collection from Sara Berman.

West London-based Berman — a member of a growing fashion dynasty (her sister Aimee is also a designer and works with her) — also dishes up more practical coats. The stand-out items include a red-wool trapeze shaped wool with big silver buttons and trumpet sleeves, and a sassy red tartan with belt and oversized Peter Pan collar.

Berman, who is 31, is also a Central St Martin’s graduate. She trained with Victoria Beckham favourite Maria Grachvogel before setting up her own business, inspired by her mother Helene, who founded her own fashion business, Charles Gray, in 1972.

“I’ve got no big plans to take over the world. I just want to carry on doing what I do, well,” she says.

Fans can find her popular pieces, particularly the ’60s-inspired A-line dresses, sweaters and curvy suits, reworked in her new Berman Black diffusion label. “We decided to launch Berman Black to respond to requests for pieces from the main collection at a more affordable price.”

    Last updated: 11:04am, September 25 2009