Becky Wilson studied BA (Hons) Fashion at AUB, graduating in 2018. She won the Christopher Bailey Gold Award at this year’s London Graduate Fashion Week
She has since been in conversation with brands such as Ralph Lauren and we caught up with her to talk about her win.
Did you get an inkling that you were going to go that far when it came to the awards?
After the Bournemouth show I was asked to choose my two best outfits because I’d been pre-selected you for “the 100”, which are the best collections across the three days of all the University shows. There were five of us from AUB that were selected. Then the organisers said they would let us know if we had been successful later that evening. I thought “this is not going to be me” as I already felt that being selected for the “top 100” was amazing.
I was staying with a friend and I was so tired from staying up late the previous couple of nights working on my collection ready for the show so I just went to bed not expecting to receive a call, saying “if it’ll be, it’ll be”. I was woken up later that evening to messages from my five friends that had also been selected asking if i had heard anything and saying “it’s half past 12, and I don’t know what to do – I don’t know whether to go to bed or not”. I picked up my phone and started scrolling through the messages, waking myself up a bit, and my phone started ringing and I remember thinking “what’s going on?”. I was shaking. So I answered it and they said “you’ve been selected, please come backstage for 10 o’clock that morning. It’s going to be a really busy day”.
The first undertaking was to check that the clothing fitted the models as they were different to the ones we used for the Bournemouth show. I also had to talk the dressers through any tricky or unusual design features. We were not allowed to watch the show because everything was being judged. After the show the judges started walking out into their booths ready for the award interviewing process.
I sat with my portfolio on my lap and my garments hanging behind me not quite knowing what to expect next. Then the craziness started as the judges had a very limited amount of time to interview their chosen candidates. But it wasn’t long before a lady asked “Becky Wilson, can you follow me please – Julien Macdonald would like to speak to you”.
So I took a deep breath, grabbed my portfolio and followed her in. He was really interested in my knitwear pieces. I had a quick chat with him, then I went back and sat down. I’d never met anyone so famous before and I was a little overwhelmed.
What did he ask you about?
He asked for some more knitwear, so I went off and got another piece and as I walked back in the judges were talking about it. Then I talked them through my concept explaining how my work is based on the Victorian working class and Victorian family portraits. It was based on two photographers: August Sander and Horace Warner. Looking at their photography inspired my collection. I explained how the proportions of passed-down clothes don’t always really fit – some of the trousers are a bit too short or the jumpers are misshapen and darned together, showing how beautiful clothing becomes when it has been worn and fixed by the owner.
After you saw Julien what happened?
After a few moments I got called again and this time they didn’t tell me where I was going, so I said “can I ask what I’m going in for?” and they said the Gold Award. I remember thinking “this is my one chance so I’ve got to do my best and nail it”. I went in and there was Diane von Furstenberg, Christopher Raeburn and about 10 or so high-profile judges sat round the table. I got my portfolio out and started talking it through. The interview was really informal and the judges kept on asking me questions like “have you been to see this or that?”. Then Christopher Raeburn turned round and said “I’m not sure if she’s had time to go and see all these things” so I thought “thank you!”. He remembers being a fashion student not that long ago. After coming out of that interview I was called once again to go in to another and it was all an amazing experience.
As the Gala Show started all the AUB finalists sat together. The awards started to happen and AUB people were winning things, it was amazing and we were getting so excited for everyone. Then it got towards the end and womenswear and menswear awards were announced. I knew I wasn’t up for them so I thought “that’s fine, I’ve got this far, that’s incredible” and then they shouted my name and I thought “oh my God, I’ve got to get up on stage”. It was insane, it was amazing. What an experience. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. When I talk about it, I think “did it happen? Was it a dream?”.
So what’s next? Because you’re the gold winner do lots of doors open up for you now?
I had a quick chat with the guy who gave me the award, who was from Ralph Lauren. He said he was going to give me a phone call quite soon after. We will see.
What’s your one piece of advice to future creatives?
My advice to future creative is to do what you enjoy and follow your heart. Allow yourself the time to experiment and do not be afraid to get things wrong. Keep an eye on whats going on in the industry and never doubt your abilities.
Find out more about BA (Hons) Fashion at AUB.