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Burgess Hill Student makes the shortlist for Young Handbag Designer of the Year, AND Young Artist of the Year at The Clothes Show 2015.

Aimed at recognising emerging talent, The Creative Awards have been developed to complement work based learning, as well as helping students explore their creativity.

Burgess Hill Girls Year Eleven student Allegra Cook has been shortlisted as a finalist in both Young Handbag Designer of the Year, and Young Artist of the Year, with the winners being announced ‘live’ at the Clothes Show hosted at Birmingham’s NEC this December. This is a truly amazing achievement and testament to the hard-work and creativity shown by Allegra, especially in this, her GCSE year.

‘Design a statement clutch bag to launch a new luxury handbag range’ was the brief set for the Young Handbag Designer competition this year, with competitors required to produce their designs before sending them for judging.

The top ten designs are then selected by the panel, these then have to be produced. In December the bags are modelled on the catwalk at The Clothes Show. This is tremendously exciting as the winning bag is announced on the catwalk and is a huge surprise for the winner.

For the Young Artist competition the brief was to create an artistic patchwork through either illustration, or fabric to inspire a gown worthy of the red carpet. Once again, designs are sent to the judging panel and the top ten are selected. The winning design is announced on the catwalk at The Clothes Show in December.

During the next few days, weeks, evenings and weekends Allegra will be busy making her luxury clutch bag as the excitement and anticipation builds about attending the show next month.

In order to gain some tips and professional advice, Allegra visited local bespoke leather handbag designer & IMG_8016 manufacturer Jane Hopkinson. Having been making handbags for over 30 years, Jane, whose workshop and retail shop are based at Turner Dumbrell Workshops in Ditchling was keen to discuss Allegra’s design ideas and offer helpful tips and advice commenting:

‘Allegra has plenty of ideas for her interpretation of a pocket watch as a smart occasion bag.

I loved the way she was using the different materials to create different textures for the patterns on the surface, and her embroidery skills for the numerals. Her choice has allowed plenty of scope for showing her use of
different materials and sewing skills .’IMG_8010

Allegra said of the project, upon its completion:

‘From start to finish this bag was a feat of engineering, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my school and family. After giving up precious time and weekends the bag that I could only dream of was beginning to transform in front of my eyes. This creation has allowed me to realise that I can achieve anything if I attack it with a needle, thread and belief.’

Allegra has shown her talents in previous years by winning the ‘Young handbag Designer of the Year’ last year, she has also achieved third place on two occasions with her work exhibited at the annual Festival of Quilts, as well as being Highly Commended at The Young Craftsman of the Year competition held at the South of England Show. Allegra is fitting all this superb work into an already busy school timetable as she prepares herself for her GCSE examinations in the summer.

Burgess Hill Girls, and Allegra would like to thank Jane for taking time out to meet with Allegra, and discussing her project, Jane’s website can be found at:


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