Harriet Eccleston’s grannies patiently taught her to knit and sew as a small child. Little did they know that they were nurturing an award-winning fashion designer of the future.
And it was her forebears from generations before who were the inspiration for the designs that won 23-year-old Harriet the title Young Designer of the Year 2017 at the Midlands Fashion Awards.
“My six-look graduate collection, Entwined, was inspired by the lives of my family. It captures family life and childhood memories,” explains Harriet, who lives at Stanton-in-Peak.
She points to photographs of everyday life, postcards and garments from the menswear shop her great grandfather owned in the early 1900s that are attached to a pin-board in her cosy summerhouse studio in the garden of her family home.
“These influenced the choice of fabrics and silhouette for my designs,” she says proudly.
“I wanted them to capture the feelings of safety, comfort and security and reflect the well-crafted and refined ideals of the 1900s. I also wanted to use modern fabrics and finishes in a way that is reminiscent of the past, linking the past to the present.”
Harriet’s collection so wowed examiners at Northumbria University where she was studying Fashion Design that not only did she graduate with 1st Class Honours but her work was also chosen to be shown on the catwalk at London Graduate Fashion Week.
“It was an incredible and heart-stopping experience to watch my garments on show in a professional environment and in front of established and influential members the fashion industry. Something, that until that point, I had only dreamt about,” says Harriet.
The icing on the cake was to then win the Midlands award in October.
“It was amazing to be part of such a prestigious event highlighting the breadth of talent outside London. I was able to meet such friendly and supportive, talented, emerging designers and models as well as network with the judging panel and other members of the fashion industry.”
Harriet’s passion for textiles was encouraged by her teachers at Lady Manners School in Bakewell, motivating her to go to Chesterfield College to take a Foundation course in Art and Design.
“That course was absolutely brilliant. On day one I knew that it was fashion I wanted to do and I worked towards the degree course.
While I have been studying, amazing experiences working with Palmer//Harding, All Saints and Paul Smith have encouraged me to specialise in womenswear and pattern cutting and instilled an ambition in me to one day have my own business.”
That moment has come rather sooner than she expected because of her success in 2017, and she has already set up her own fashion label under her own name and launched a website with an online shop that features a growing number of pieces adapted from the original collection,
She describes her work as creating original and unique pieces for the independent, modern woman, influenced by British heritage, real people and their day to day lives.
“The last year has been surreal. I dreamt about having my own business but I didn’t think it would happen so soon. With such exciting things around the corner, I can’t wait to see what happens next.”
Go to http://www.harrieteccleston.co.uk for more information.