Designs on the future of Norwich fashion

Students from City College Norwich will unveil a new fashion label at Norwich Fashion Week and early indications show it is on par with international designs, says Emma Harrowing

Last week London Fashion Week previewed the autumn and winter 2012 collections from some of the most coveted fashion designers.

When Norwich Fashion Week begins next week you will be treated to styles that you can wear now and for spring and summer as the collections showcased are already coming into the shops.

For one team of Norwich fashion designers this means bringing what is tipped to be at the height of fashion come next winter into fashion now – they just didn't know that they were doing it!

Fashion and textile students from City College Norwich set up their own fashion label as part of the college's investment in bridging the gap between education and business. Cocoon (named to incorporate the intials of City College Norwich, CCN) was set up as a business by first year fashion students and second year textile students.

'Each student had the opportunity to pitch for a position in the fashion house,' says course lecturer Claire Read, who designs and owns Poppy Valentine, in the Royal Arcade. 'Therefore there was a position for a buyer, head of marketing and events manager. Each student pitched for the role they wanted and we [the lecturers] recruited to these roles.'

Earlier this year the students set to work to bring their new fashion business to life. Cocoon is a collective so each student will design an outfit to go into the collection. Future fashion and textile students will then continue the label in years to come.

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The Designers Show at Norwich Fashion Week will see the launch of Cocoon and the label's first collection. The catwalk show will take place at Project Nightclub on Tuesday, March 13, where Cocoon will be shown alongside other Norfolk fashion designers such as Jane Kenning and Marian Eve Williams who showcased at Norwich Fashion Week last year.

Martha Jones is the buyer for Cocoon. The 17 year old's role is to predict future trends and feed her findings back to the team of designers so that their designs can be cutting edge.

Says Martha: 'If you are coming to The Designers Show at Norwich Fashion Week you are in for a treat. The Cocoon collection for spring and summer is all about machinery, mechanics and repetition so expect metallics and fierce lines!

'Each design is made by a different designer so each look will be individual and will take the theme of the collection to extremes.'

A sneak peak at the young designers drawings reveals a grasp of the machinery meets fashion theme that is vast and varied. Florals, pastels and lace mix with metal and studs to create an eclectic collection that could be one of the most talked about at fashion week.

'My design is inspired by the mechanics of a fan,' says 17 year old Naomi Shea. 'Pleats are a trend for summer on the high street so my design uses the pleated effect of a fan to create a 50s style prom dress.'

One design is inspired by the arms of a typewriter with printed fabric and a skirt made from metal, another takes spring's trend for skull logos and is of a pale green shift dress torn at the shoulders. The design is inspired by the structure of antlers and horns.

Emily Wyer's lace design is one of the many that takes a trend tipped to be big on the high street for spring and summer which is given a twist.

'My design was inspired by the mechanics and workings of a clock,' says the 17 year old designer.

'At the moment my plan is to design a blazer made from black lace to give the prettiness of lace an edgier look.'

The young designers have been busy making and adjusting their designs for the catwalk since the beginning of the year and with their ideas in place it was interesting to see a similar sci-fi inspired collection hit the catwalks at last week's London Fashion Week.

International fashion designer Matthew Williamson's collection for autumn and winter 2012 looked futuristic with sequins that looked like circuitry – a familiar theme to the one Cocoon is set to showcase at Norwich Fashion Week in two week's time.

Of course the students were not to know that an international designer would have a similar theme to their collection, but it goes to show how fashion-forward these young designers are.

You can see the launch of Cocoon at The Designers Show on Tuesday, March 13, as part of Norwich Fashion Week. The shows take place at 2pm and 7pm at Project Nightclub on Riverside. Tickets cost �10 for adults and �5 for under 18s and are available from Poppy Valentine in the Royal Arcade call 01603 928802. Norwich Fashion Week takes place from Thursday, March 8, until Thursday, March 15. Your Evening News will be bringing you all the preview and reviews over the next couple of weeks in the paper and online at