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CLASS OF 2016: Short phone call launches career of DMU footwear designer

A 10-minute telephone interview has launched the career of a De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) footwear designer with a paid internship at exclusive menswear brand Sorensen.

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Ella posing outside the Sorensen 'summer store' she helped launch

Graduating with a First from Footwear Design today, Ella Luker wowed Wayne Sorensen, the former design director of Orlebar Brown, with her classic yet contemporary aesthetic.

Sorensen, whose inaugural collection launched in May, hired Ella after just 10 minutes on the phone due to her impressive portfolio and achievements.

Ella has supported Sorensen with the opening of his first ‘summer store’ in London’s up-market Chelsea area, which is located opposite Chanel, with a more permanent location on the horizon.

From helping paint the shop to steaming clothes, Ella said: “The opening night was such a buzz and I feel so privileged to have this opportunity.

“I’m absolutely loving this internship and I get on really well with Wayne.”

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Ella pushes the boundaries of men's footwear design

Ella is now looking forward to focussing on the footwear design process, especially the chance to collaborate with a footwear agent who Sorensen previously worked with while at Burberry.

The 21-year-old said: “Wayne is a highly-regarded menswear designer, but this is his first venture into footwear.

“He picked me because of my skills and experience in this area and I’m excited for us both to learn from each other’s strengths.”

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The exclusive opportunity came about at a dinner Ella attended which was hosted by The Worshipful Company of Patternmakers, thanks to DMU’s longstanding relationship with the company.

On the night, Ella ended up chatting to a friend of Sorensen’s who told her about the internship and passed on her portfolio to Sorensen himself.

Throughout her three years at DMU, Ella has had a number of other valuable opportunities too, such as industry placements and working to commercial briefs.

Winning a live sports hybrid project earned her a placement at Joseph Cheaney & Sons, working alongside the head of footwear design to turn her prototype into a manufactured pair of shoes at their Northampton factory.

There, she also had the chance to design and make a pair of boots for herself with a special label sewn into the lining which proudly reads ‘For Cheaneys by Ella Luker’.

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Ella also won a scholarship from The Worshipful Company of Cordwainers leading to a design school experience at Modartech in Tuscany, Italy. She spent two weeks learning about designing, patternmaking, styling and how to use new rendering techniques with Sketchbook Pro.

Recently, Ella was named in the country’s top 15 young designers by Cordwainers. Last year she was also a finalist and exhibitor at MODA - the UK’s biggest trade fashion event – and was shortlisted in the top five designers in an All Saints’ biker project.

Ella said: “DMU has exposed us to so much and has prepared us well for industry. My internship is now giving me the full experience of every aspect and I’m excited for the future and what it holds.”

Posted on Wednesday 20th July 2016

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