Winner Evie Armstrong-Clarke impressed the prestigious panel of judges including Emma Farrow, Head of Design at Topshop Unique; fine jewellery designer, Solange Azagury-Partridge; Vivien Thomason, Buying Director at Freedom at Topshop; Nicky Yates, Fashion Director at ES Magazine; Victoria Bain, Shopping & Jewellery Editor of The Telegraph; Pandora Sykes, Fashion Editor of The Debrief and Donna Wallace, Accessories Editor at UK Elle Magazine.
We chatted with second year BA Jewellery Design student Evie, to find out what it takes to get noticed by the best names in the business.
Tell us about your designs for Freedom at Topshop?
When I started the project in the summer of 2013, I was really drawn to all the new architecture emerging. I started to go to as many different locations as possible taking pictures of these new buildings and extracting shapes from the architecture.
What is your design aesthetic like? What materials do you usually use?
For this project in particular, I liked the minimal and slightly abstract designs. For example, the structure of glass and use of light in buildings such as the Gherkin and the Shard really fed into my design, particularly with the clear and frosted acrylics, etc. I am interested in plastics, but there are many qualities I’m still experimenting with. I guess it’s hard to say in my second year as every material I encounter is from something of interest and proves it’s own challenges.
What inspired your Freedom at Topshop designs?
It was the exciting and rapid evolution that London’s skyline was undergoing that I speak of above. It’s very current and stylised and will inevitably soak into our design aesthetics too. Once I got drawing, collaging and model making on the body, the shapes evolved quite naturally.
Who is the Topshop girl to you?
The pieces were intended to be made ‘for the Londoner, inspired by London itself’. One of my early mood boards had in mind the modern metropolitan woman, so I suppose the Topshop girl I had in mind would be her!
How did it feel to win?
I think I swore a little in front of a lot of people! I was really shocked. Everyone else had such amazing designs so it was a close call. I feel very lucky.
Who are your favourite jewellery designers and why?
I’ve always loved Gijs Bakker; he has such humour and a fresh enthusiasm for design that’s always changing. I like how he sees very little boundaries between jewellery and other forms of design, which is something I aspire to as it’s good to keep your options open. There are a lot of names I could drop in here, but in general I’m a fan of quite contemporary or statement design… something to make people question the limits of jewellery a little.
Which museum in London would you recommend to get an idea of jewellery in history?
The Victoria & Albert Museum. They have the William and Judith Bollinger Jewellery Gallery, which is like some funny time-warp, you could spend all day in there!
What’s special about Freedom at Topshop jewellery? Do you wear it yourself?
The designs come from a team of hard working and talented designers; they have a really creative environment with lots of momentum and I really enjoyed seeing that. This means new ideas are generated constantly at an impressive rate – I don’t think people realise how difficult that is! I am a fan of Freedom at Topshop jewellery, however student budgeting has left me with a few long-term charms I wear all the time – a bit of a boring answer for a jewellery student!
If you could ransack anyone’s jewellery box, who would it be?
I’ve actually salvaged a lot of things from my grandmother’s through my mum. Some of the pieces I’ve slightly recreated but I think she had quite nice taste! I am also really intrigued by our course leader at Central Saint Martins, Caroline Broadhead’s, jewellery collection. I imagine it would include some of the early work of past jewellery designers who graduated CSM in the past, which would be fun to see.
How do you find the course at CSM?
We’ve been given the most amazing opportunities so far. We’re very spoilt, really. It’s always challenging but I really love it.
What advice would you give someone wanting to get into jewellery design or applying to CSM?
Be open-minded. I never thought that I would end up in jewellery design when I did my foundation course (I originally thought I would do fine art painting), I thought it was going to close off a lot of options for me, but it has introduced me to a whole new way of design with the body in mind. It’s good to question what you think jewellery is and to be brave in showing that.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given in your career so far?
To make mistakes, and gladly! I used to be so scared of getting it wrong but sometimes that’s the best thing that can happen.
Check out the newest must-have jewels from Freedom at Topshop. Evie’s collection will be available to buy from September 2014.