Final year city student, 22, wins top design award
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.