Fashion passion

The last thing a young designer expects is to see their work feature in a major fashion house collection.

The last thing a young designer expects is to see their work feature in a major fashion house collection. But that’s exactly what happened to 23-year-old Heidi Pryce, who helped design knitwear for a top British brand. Mieka Smiles met her.

FROM dressing up dolls to knitting outfits for her pets, Heidi’s passion for fashion started young. And as she has grown up, the young designer has always found it difficult to wear off-the-peg clothing without giving the garments her own unique twist.

Like many of those hoping to break into the design industry, Heidi is now on the brink of launching her own range called HOP, which boasts a range of men and women’s fashion as well as cool and kitsch home accessories. But setting her apart from the throng of young hopefuls, Heidi can already say that her work has been picked up by a top fashion house after securing a work experience placement at Nicole Fahri – an internationally acclaimed British designer brand with showrooms in London, New York, Paris, Milan and Madrid.

“The mittens were a result of some work that I did on the last day of my work experience,” explains Heidi, who lives in Heaton, Newcastle, with her boyfriend Martin Dalberg-Andersen, 22, who works in sales and marketing. “One of the girls in knitwear was having a mad day and so I helped her out.

“I drew up a pattern for mittens and a scarf and the next thing I knew it was in the collection.

“I didn’t believe it until I was sent the gloves and the brochure.”

The mittens that Heidi helped to design featured in the Nicole Farhi 2008 Autumn/Winter collection.

It was when browsing the internet almost a year after her placement that Heidi discovered the mittens for sale on the Nicole Farhi online catalogue. Heidi says: “I was quite shocked.

“Quite a few people haven’t heard of Nicole Farhi so it doesn’t feel like I’m boasting when I tell them about what’s happened.”

A spokeswoman for Nicole Farhi said: “Nicole Farhi always supports young talent and Heidi Pryce showed great promise on her internship with the company.

“She was overseen in contributing to the design of the FARHI by Nicole Farhi AW08 woollen mittens.”

A career in design is something that Heidi has long aimed for. She says: “I have always customised bits of clothing.

“My mum is really good at sewing and I learned a lot of things from her. I’ve always asked my mum how to make things.

“I have always had in my head that I can be wearing things better than what’s in the shops.

“I actually made a wedding dress for my GCSEs when I was 16 and I used to make clothes for my dogs and stuff – making things like that have helped me now.

“It’s dressing up dolls and things that has led to what I’m doing now.

“For me nothing is good as it is – I have to change it.”

Heidi honed her skills by completing a degree in applied arts and enterprise at the award-winning Cleveland College of Art and Design’s (CCAD) Hartlepool campus, where modules included everything from jewellery, textiles and ceramics to business studies and history.

“There is always scope to learn something more – it was hard work.

“I didn’t have much of a student’s lifestyle.”

It was while she was at CCAD that Heidi, originally from Bedfordshire, fell in love with Newcastle: “I just found it to be a really creative place. For me Newcastle is a big enough city but still small enough to be a community.”

Now Heidi is looking to unleash her designs by showcasing them on her new-style blog: “Now I have left college I can concentrate a lot more on my business.

“I have got a blog and I try to put on as much stuff as possible.

“And when I do put an item of clothing on I try to show people how it was made so they have a bit of a story behind them. It’s obviously easier to customise things but I do like to make things from scratch too.”

She added: “I was not sure if I wanted to go into specifically fashion.

“The placement did help a lot as it made me less confused. Making clothes alone is not my cup of tea. I like mixing textiles, ceramics and jewellery.”

To see more of Heidi’s designs visit her blog at: http://cupofkittentea.

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