Matthew Harding and Levi Palmer of palmer//harding and Amy Powney of Mother of Pearl have been announced as the three recipients of this year’s British Fashion Council/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund. The designers will each split the 200,000-pound prize (or $250,000) and receive mentorship from the BFC’s Business Support team.
This year saw the Fund—now in its eighth year—adopt a totally new format. For the first time, more than one candidate could claim the prize, a move meant to “benefit multiple designers at a pivotal stage in the growth of their brand’s development,” stated the BFC. Previous winners include Mary Katrantzou, Erdem, Christopher Kane, and most recently, Sophia Webster.
The 2017 designer shortlist included Hannah Weiland of Shrimps, Huishan Zhang, accessories designer Sophie Hulme, and sisters Faye and Erica Toogood of Toogood, in addition to the three aforementioned winners. In February, the designers presented their collections and business plans to a panel that included Caroline Rush and Alexandra Schulman of the BFC, Mary Homer of Topshop, Sarah Manley of Burberry, and more.
“Amy, Levi, and Matthew impressed the panel with the clear vision they had for the future of their businesses, and showed a real understanding of how this money could be used to benefit and future proof the growth of their brands,” Rush said in a statement. “Both brands are built on strong and dynamic creative visions, and it’s an exciting time to see them expand commercially to compliment this.”
Since launching in 2012, palmer//harding, a brand known largely for its innovative shirting techniques, has been awarded Newgen sponsorship (another BFC-backed initiative) as well as financial support through the BFC’s Fashion Trust initiative. Mother of Pearl, which showed for the first time at London Fashion Week for Fall 2014, was shortlisted for the Fund in 2016 and 2015.
It’s yet to be determined whether or not the BFC will continue this tradition of awarding the prize to multiple designers, but given today’s less-than-ideal climate, they need all the help they can get.