Von Furstenberg’s involvement in the event is an indication of its increasing efforts to achieve more international appeal and involve students outside the U.K. There is an “International Fashion Award” show held during the event and the number of foreign universities participating has increased from 4 to 50, since 2012.
“I hope to continue to expand the reach of this important event and the tremendous talent it represents,” said Von Furstenberg, who will head up this year’s judging panel as part of her new role, to decide on the winner of the Christopher Bailey Gold Award, named after the former Burberry creative director and Graduate Fashion Week alumnus.
“The Gold Award has always been so highly regarded in the industry. It is a true beacon of talent, so I am excited to play a part in who will carry the torch this year,” she added of the award, which includes a 10,000-pound prize fund.
Nadja Swarovski has also been named lifetime patron, continuing Swarovski’s partnership with Graduate Fashion Week as a sponsor of two key student awards: the Hilary Alexander Trailblazer award and the International Catwalk Competition award. In addition, this year the company will provide crystal trophies for the winning students and introduce an additional accolade, the Swarovski Sustainable and Ethical Fashion Accessories award, to challenge students to use of upcycled crystal in their accessory designs. The award will offer the winner a 1,000 pound prize and the opportunity to showcase their work during London Fashion Week in September.
Swarovski and von Furstenberg join the likes of Victoria Beckham, Nick Knight, Christopher Bailey and Vivienne Westwood in their role as lifetime patrons.