Images courtesy of Jessica Quillin
Anne Sofie Madsen, AW12 by Simon Armstrong - a favourite of Jessica Quillin

As part of a new feature, every Fashion Friday, the VFS blog team will interview an influential fashion individual. First up is Jessica Quillin, aclaimed author, writer, entrepreneur and all-round fashion favourite. She is currently working as the Chief Strategy Officer for Atelier 36 and the Managing Director of Quillin Consulting.  

Your company Atelier 36 continuously works with up and coming designers, can you tell us about some of the campaigns you are currently working on?
At Atelier 36, my business partner, Krista Peck, and I are really excited about several projects that we have ongoing. In particular, we are thrilled about a campaign that we just launched for the Young British Designers called YBD On Tour. This initiative is designed to introduce the Young British Designers (YBD), which specializes in fashion created by UK emerging designers, to the US market.  We also are in the process of working with a number of young designers on a variety of brand and marketing projects, including dressmaker Yan To and jewellery brand Ruby Browning

You are an avid supporter of Vauxhall Fashion Scout – what do you think of us as a platform for emerging designers?
I think that VFS is a highly effective platform for emerging designers in the UK. Allowing young designers the opportunity to showcase their talents through runway presentations, exhibitions, and other events is an amazing way to introduce them to the fashion industry. Ones to Watch is by far my favourite show at LFW because it is such a powerful way to see the examples of the next generation of fashion minds all at once.

What do you think is the importance in placing such support for recent graduates and first time designers?
I think that support for graduates and young designers is critical because there are very few resources available for them to develop their own point of view and showcase their talents. Funding is an especially touchy thing for young designers, many of whom end up working for larger fashion houses and may not ever have their own work see the light of day in the industry itself.

VFS has launched the careers of designing talents such as David Koma and Hermione de Paula, which of our designers (from AW12) do you think is the next big thing?
All  of the VFS AW12 designers are amazing talents. But, I really love Anne Sofie Madsen’s aesthetic. One is keenly aware of her illustrator’s eye for detail when you observe the contours of her pieces. The Primitivist approach of her SS12 collection was particularly powerful.

Living in the US, do you get a chance to attend LFW? If so, what shows did you make last season? If not, how do you follow the shows?
I usually do get the chance to attend both the AW and SS shows for LFW. But, when I cannot attend shows, I do like to follow them online as best I can via video. This is what I did for SS2012 in September when I was unable to make it to London due to the birth of my son.

Is there a similar organisation to Fashion Scout in the US? If so, what could we learn from them and vice-versa? 
We have a number of large and small organisations within the US that provide resources for emerging designers. The CFDA, in particular, offers a number of scholarships and other support schemes for young designers. Organisations like StartUp Fashion also provide business resources and marketing support for young designers. I think that these US organisations could learn a lot from the VFS example of offering emerging designers catwalk and exhibition space during the main mêlée of Fashion Weeks and in two locations. It gives these designers a sense of industry legitimacy at the same time it provides a healthy dose of immediate marketing that would benefit any designer. 
UK fashion industry professionals may find that there is a bevy of untapped resources in smaller enterprises such as can be found in the US. Boutique firms can offer both organisations and emerging designers more tailored services and one-on-one attention at a fraction of the cost of larger firms. One of the things we at Atelier 36 constantly tell the designers with whom we work is that there is a lot of sense in going local for everything from fabric sourcing to production.


Interview by Editor Cass Gowing, 
Follow her on Twitter @CassGowing
View Jessica's site: http://atelier-36.com/ and follow the YBD initiative  on Tumblr and their Twitter account @YBDONTOUR.

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