Two third year Footwear Design students at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) both put at least one foot firmly in the world of high-end fashion last night when they were honoured at the National Footwear Student of the Year Awards, held at the V&A Museum.
COMMENDED: Sam Walker and Bethany Roberts with fashion legend Jimmy Choo at the V&A
Receiving their Commendations at the Cordwainers Company awards from Jimmy Choo, a world class name in shoe fashion, one of the winning DMU duo, Bethany Roberts, was given a business card by the design legend with the encouraging words: “We must talk.”
Sam Walker was also Commended, putting him and Bethany in the UK’s Top 5 students for footwear design. Other students to reach the glittering final awards ceremony, and have their work shown to visitors from across the world as part of the V&A’s ‘Shoes: Pleasure and Pain’ exhibition, included DMU’s Alex Blackman, Eleanor Stanley and Yeong Hye Kim, known as Hayley.
“I feel so proud to be noticed by the judges, the industry and, it seems, Jimmy Choo!” said Bethany.
“It’s also really great to achieve one for the team – the lecturers work so hard for us at DMU, doing so much work, putting in so much effort for us all. This is so exciting and I’m very happy.”
Bethany’s mum, Hazel, was equally thrilled: “I’m very proud and I think this is just the start of things for her. I know we all think our children are special but I think Beth’s got a special raw talent, I really do.”
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Sam said this was the first time he’d ever reached a final and was proud just to be at the event, let alone get an honour. Looking around the classically fine, elegant surroundings of the V&A foyer, the proud Cornishman said: “It makes you feel really fancy being here and to win is just amazing. It’s so great to think that the judges think you’re good and for them to tell the whole of the industry that you’re good. This could open a lot of doors for me in my career. It could be very important.”
Bethany also won the industry magazine MODA award in February, as well as enjoying two high profile design highlights: Having her work seen by The Duke of Cambridge at the GREAT Festival of Creativity, in Shanghai; and also designing and making a pair of shoes for DMU Vice Chancellor Dominic Shellard that he wore at the Shanghai event, using an ultra blue patent in the spirit of his beloved Queens Park Rangers.
While Bethany takes on the prospect of working under the wing of an international shoes superstar, Sam has been weighing up his options after coming close to securing an internship with Nike, now looking seriously at studying for a postgraduate design technology teaching qualification to qualify him to work in secondary schools.
SPECIAL NIGHT: Course Leader Kevin Guildford with (left to right) DMU Footwear Design students Haley, Sam Walker, Bethany Roberts, Alex Blackman, Eleanor Stanley and Senior Lecturer Phil Stewart
Kevin Guildford, Course Leader for Footwear Design at DMU said: “This is an amazing accolade for Bethany and Sam since it puts them in the Top 5 of all footwear design students in the UK.
“The judges were highly complimentary about their projects and I’m sure this success will put them on the road to very successful careers.
“But what an amazing, unique and possibly never to be repeated opportunity for all our students to have their work and their credentials presented at the V&A and endorsed by the Cordwainers.
“This event has given them a platform to present themselves to an international fashion and footwear audience, something that will impress any would-be employer. It raises their profile and helps them stand out from the competition, while the industry endorsement will encourage more people to believe in them.
“They all thoroughly deserve this very special opportunity because they’ve worked so hard.”
Yet, speaking exclusively to DMU before making the awards, Jimmy Choo said: “It’s not enough just to work hard. The students will have to deal with criticism, avoid ever losing their temper, get on with people and focus on making their work and their designs as good as they can possibly be.
“With new technology and new media, facilities are improving all the time… but it’s so much more competitive, globally, for young designers now than it was in my day; just think of the rising influence of China, in particular.
“So we have to encourage the young people and get behind them with events like this at the V&A, such a marvellous opportunity to present their work to visitors to the UK from all over the world.”
ENCOURAGING: Jimmy Choo at last night's awards
Posted on Friday 19th June 2015