Fi­nal year city stu­dent, 22, wins top de­sign award

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - WENDYL MARTIN

A CAPE Town fash­ion novice took top hon­ours this week when he was named the win­ner of the an­nual Elle Ris­ing Star De­sign Award, a highly re­garded com­pe­ti­tion run by the fash­ion mag­a­zine and Mr Price.

Nick Coutts, 22, is wrap­ping up his fi­nal year at the De­sign Academy of Fash­ion in Al­bert Road, Wood­stock. He beat seven other fi­nal­ists, who were trained at fash­ion schools around the coun­try.

Coutts said: “Win­ning was a huge sur­prise, I had no idea I would win.”

He dreamt of en­ter­ing the com­pe­ti­tion from a young age. In a Weekend Ar­gus in­ter­view this month, he said he re­alised he wanted to en­ter the com­pe­ti­tion when pag­ing through Elle when he was just 14.

His prizes in­clude the chance to re­design a pre­de­ter­mined range with Mr Price, R25 000 in cash, a two-week in­tern­ship at Mr Price’s of­fices in Dur­ban, per­sonal coach­ing from the Gor­don In­sti­tute of Busi­ness Sci­ence and two weeks at Elle mag­a­zine’s Cape Town of­fices with ed­i­tor Jackie Burger.

His win­ning col­lec­tion, named Strength ver­sus Fragility, was a fun com­bi­na­tion of con­trasts, in­clud­ing leather and woven fab­ric.

He was lauded on Thurs­day by the judges. Chris­ti­aan Gabriel du Toit, of KlukCGDT fame, said the clothes re­ally ex­cited him.

Mal­i­bongwe Skat­tie What Are You Wear­ing blog­ger, Mal­i­bongwe Tyilo, said he was im­pressed with Coutts’s level of craft while Elle se­nior fash­ion di­rec­tor Poppy Evans said Coutts had a place in the fash­ion in­dus­try and pre­dicted he would be around for a long time. She added that she would def­i­nitely wear his clothes.

Judg­ing, how­ever, was not just about the clothes. Coutts’s busi­ness plan was a de­cid­ing fac­tor. He said: “Our busi­ness plan had to show how we would mar­ket our brand in South Africa. I showed how I would em­power women.”

His plan in­cluded skills train­ing in weav­ing. “When I in­ves­ti­gated un­usual fab­rics, I wanted lux­ury. Woven fab­ric is highly tex­tured. The over­all look of the range is sleek. I in­cor­po­rated cur­rent trends like tai­lor­ing and pe­plums to make it rel­e­vant.”

Coutts has a week left of his ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion, but has no ma­jor plans to cel­e­brate his win or the end of his stud­ies.

“I need to get a lot done. I do want to fo­cus on my new col­lec­tion with Mr Price and un­der­stand their cus­tomer.”

TAL­ENT: A Nick Coutts de­sign.

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