Bedlington fashion student in final of national design awards

A TALENTED young fashion designer will have her latest creations showcased at a prestigious charity catwalk show made famous by Kate Middleton.

Courtney Blades, left, has made a number of dresses

A TALENTED young fashion designer will have her latest creations showcased at a prestigious charity catwalk show made famous by Kate Middleton.

The future Duchess of Cambridge first caught Prince William’s eye when she was one of the catwalk models at the annual St Andrew’s University fashion show in 2002.

The couple were studying the same history of art course at Scotland’s oldest university.

Now student Courtney Blades, 21, from Bedlington, Northumberland, is heading for this year’s show at St Andrews as one of the five finalists in the annual Alfa Romeo Young Designers Award.

Courtney, who is in the final year of her fashion studies course at the University of Derby, has beaten off the challenge of hundreds of others across the UK to win her way through to next month’s final.

Along with her four rivals she will present her collection of fashion outfits – inspired by the theme Fragments of the Imagination – to a panel of judges, with the winner announced later in the day.

All five finalists will then have their collections modelled in front of a 1,000-strong audience, at what is the UK’s biggest and most prestigious student-run fashion show.

The winner gets a £1,000 prize, a £500 grant to design a charity T-shirt range and a summer internship with a leading fashion house.

Courtney, whose parents Jacqui and Paul Blades live in Bedlington, wants to be a fashion designer with a leading high street chain and hopes her success in the competition will help get her noticed and pave the way to a career.

For the final she has designed and made up a collection of four dresses and a skirt and top with a children’s fairytale theme, utilising ink block printing and incorporating colours from the iconic Alfa Romeo brand and badge.

Courtney, a former student at Bedlington High School, entered the competition after being told about it by one of her university tutors. She has had to fill in a questionnaire about what fashion means to her, design a five-outfit collection in line with the awards theme and present her ideas to a panel in London before being selected for the final.

She has just finished making the collection, which will be sent off for judging at the final on February 16.

Courtney said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for me which could open so many doors. I believe a lot of high-up people in the fashion industry attend the St Andrews show so it will be great to have my collection seen.

“I am quite hopeful of winning because I’ve had a lot of support and help from my university, and it’s been a great process seeing my designs come to life.

“It has been a really good experience because I’ve never made my own collection before.”

This is the third year that the St Andrews charity fashion show has joined forces with Alfa Romeo to create a platform for emerging young designers.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer