On Wednesday 1st May the sun came out at the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield. It was the perfect setting for Sheffield Hallam University’s finest second year fashion students to present their beautiful lingerie and nightwear pieces that they had produced for the Panache competition. The atmosphere in the Arundel Room was completely electric, filled with anticipation and a huge sense of achievement from both the students and the parents.
As I chatted to each of the fifteen groups, I was overwhelmed by the amount of enthusiasm and positivity that each team conveyed. They had worked incredibly hard to make sure that their underwear and nightwear was perfect and it became even more apparent when one of the groups told me that they had travelled all the way to Paris in order to source the best lace for their piece. What I found most interesting was where each team had got their inspiration from to make the garments. One group in particular had researched into the 1940’s and took inspiration for their underwear from a vintage perfume bottle. It was impressive to see that the students had worked to their strengths, with the majority of the teams acknowledging that one was more confident sketching and creating mood boards and the other cutting and sewing the garment.
Of course as the time drew closer to the winner being announced the students became increasingly nervous and with good reason as the stakes were very high. All entrants were pursuing the highly coveted prize of a £1000 and a work placement at Panache, along with seeing the winning prototypes of their collection being professionally made in the Panache machine room. Although each team wanted to be successful, the solidarity was clear when speaking with the students. It was evident that the teams had pride in one another and that they would be genuinely pleased if another team won - making the whole experience even more enjoyable.
After the judges, Danny Power, Business development Director at Panache, Debbie Morley, Head of Design at Panache and Gemma Champ the editor of trade publication Lingerie Insight had spoken to all the teams and carefully examined all the entrees, they left the room to decide which team should be crowned the winner. The students had produced incredible pieces and the standard was very high, making the decision a difficult one. As a result, the judges decided that in addition to the main prize they would select a further three entrees for a Highly Commended prize.
As the judges walked towards the microphone the room went silent in anticipation. The three Highly Commended prizes were announced. First in this category were Chrissie Smith and Charlotte Markwell for their blue and white bra and knickers with keyhole detail. They won £250 each, a week's work placement at Panache and a professional prototype of the winning garment. Second Highly Commended went to Emma Mortimer, Charlotte Kaufman and Emily Hewitson for their dusty pink and taupe bra and high-waisted knickers. The girl’s took inspiration from Bridgette Bardot and created a variety of inspirational mood boards. They won £150 each and a week's placement at Panache. Third in this category went to Alice Chatburn and Jenna Berks who were inspired by space age and paid particular attention to the film Tron to create a pale grey and white body with mesh top and sleeves. They won £100 each and a one-week placement at Panache.
The suspension mounted and you could have heard a pin drop as the winner of the Panache competition was announced. Congratulations to Zoe Babington and Jenny Myrans who won First Prize for their beautiful emerald satin and black lace bra and high-waisted knickers. The girls were inspired by the 1940’s, paying particular attention to Hollywood actress Rita Hayworth. Zoe and Jenny screamed in joy and hugged one another as their names were announced. The girls were then congratulated by all the other teams who were clearly happy for the well-deserved winners.
The event was a fabulous evening and every entry deserves recognition for design and effort, with each piece exceeding all expectations.