At the end of last year Central Saint Martins teamed up with the Palladium Alliance to bring us one if the most exciting fashion competitions around. MA jewellery design students from the world’s foremost fashion college were challenged to create a unique piece of jewellery using palladium, the rarest of all platinum group metals. It has been nearly 4 months since I first introduced you to the competition and so much has happened since then one would be forgiven for having forgotten all about it. But whilst the rest of us have been gallivanting our way around the fashion week circuit, mingling at press days and living it up at launch parties the 5 finalists have been slaving away over their soldering irons in the hope of winning the competition and snagging the ultimate prize, an internship with grand dame of British Fashion, Vivienne Westwood. Last week judgement day finally came for our aspiring jewellery stars and the winner was chosen by an elite panel of industry insiders including award winning designers Giles Deacon and Hannah Martin at a fabulous soiree held at London’s Institue of Contemporary Arts. Naturally I was there to witness every emotional moment and, of course, get stuck in to the celebratory champagne.
|Me & my boyfriend/long-suffering photographer, Jonny|
The 5 finalist’s bespoke palladium pieces were unveiled in front of the guests including famous fashion faces including Olivia Inge, PPQ, Jasmine Guiness, Gizzy Erskine, Jade Parfitt & Luke Worrel. Cocktails and conversation flowed in equal measure and everyone seemed in high spirits. Everyone that is, except the finalists who all appeared to grow increasingly pale as the evening progressed.
|Giles Deacon & Hannah Martin|
|Gizzy Erskine & Amy Molyneaux|
|Jasmine Guiness & Jade Parfitt|
As the clock struck 9pm we were called in to the main room as the winner was to be announced and our poor finalists put out of their misery. To say that tensions were running high would be understatement of the century but, well, they were. At long last Simon Fraser, Central Saint Martin’s MA Design course director, took to the stage and proudly announced Leigh Cameron as the winner. Leigh accepted his victory with a mixture of shock, joy and genuine disbelief which was really endearing especially considering the sheer brilliance of his palladium creation.
|Above: Winner Leigh Cameron & Judging Panel
Below: Leigh’s winning design, entitled “Weight Of Space”
I caught up with the lovely Leigh to find out a little bit about the man of the moment and just how he came up with his winning design.
LPA: Leigh, your piece was chosen out everyone’s on the MA Jewellery Design course, you must be over the moon! Did you ever think you had a chance of winning?
LB: Honestly? No! My background is actually in furniture design and I though that this competition could give me the opportunity to enjoy new materials and push boundaries both in terms of jewellery design and my own inspirations. I never, ever thought I’d stand a chance of winning.
LPA: I had a good, long look at your ring and it really is amazing! It’s also very different to the other finalists pieces. What inspired you during the design process?
LB: Architecture was definitely a big inspiration. I was really interested in the idea of what needs to be there and what doesn’t and how you can create form by using lines and empty spaces. This formulated into my title, “Weight of Space”. It was about challenging myself to create mass, without it actually being there.
LPA: What are your aims for the future? After this, might a career in jewellery design be on the cards?
LB: I still have another year of my MA to go so for now, I’m leaving my options open. I want to learn to develop my design process and apply the same aesthetics I used on this piece to other aspects of design such as furniture, interiors or anything else that interests me. I don’t know yet exactly what it is I want to do after college. I just know that I want to be working within a team of people who inspire and complement each other.
LPA: You also have your internship with Vivienne Westwood coming up, that must be extremely exciting. Did you ever imagine you’d be working for such an internationally renowned fashion designer?
LB: It is! I have always been a huge fan of Vivienne’s but would never have dreamt that I’d get the opportunity to work for her. Central Saint Martins has opened up so many doors for me. I’ve found that the college offers you a really good diversity between education and reality. It connects you to the fashion industry so you can start to understand how it all works whilst still learning, making mistakes and working out where your strengths really lie.
LPA: How are you planning to celebrate your victory?
LB: I haven’t actually thought that far ahead! We have exams on friday but after than I’m sure that I’ll go out for a few drinks with some friends.
I chatted to Leigh for a good half hour (whilst other journalists gave me the evil eye) and came away utterly charmed. Modest, down-to-earth and multi-talented, whatever aspect of design he decides to go into after graduating, you just know it’s going to be good. Watch this space…
Love Ella. X