Harold Tillman has handed his chairmanship to Net-a-porter founder Natalie Massenet / Getty Images

 

London fashion week was brought to a close last night by Harold Tillman, and with it he ended his five year tenure as chair of the British Fashion Council. Passing the baton to his successor Natalie Massenet, the business woman who founded Net-a-porter, he did so “with a sense of pride and with great hope for the future.”

“It will have been almost five years and has been an unbelievable experience.  I have seen the industry grow and develop. My dream has always been to help new talent, and enable them to succeed."

Massenet, whose ventures have changed the internet and luxury retail landscape globally, is an interesting choice to inherit the title in a time when fashion is becoming more global day by day. "I know that I am inheriting this position with the British Fashion Industry in the best shape of its life," she said. "Maintaining and growing that reputation in Great Britain and around the world is a responsibility that I take very seriously."

Someone who will surely appreciate these efforts is Haizhen Wang, who last night was awarded this year's Fashion Fringe award. Chosen by the initiative's founder Colin McDowell and guest chair Burberry head Christopher Bailey, Wang showed a collection inspired by historical Japanese armour and the work of Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. This manifested in sculptural, voluminous designs of draped and pleated leather and wool. Accessorized with untreated wooden and leather block heeled sandals and black wooden bird like armour headpieces.

Bailey said his choice was influenced by Wang's "work and approach, and well-rounded nature. He had a sense of vision of how he might build a brand. It was a tough decision, the three finalists all had strong points of view and huge potential. Now I want Wang to find his voice and slowly grow a business." While Bailey said that the experience was a privilege, McDowell acknowledged how lucky the finalists were too. "Christopher devoted more time to the three finalists than any other chair. I always felt he was just a phone call away if we needed him and that gave us confidence."

For his part Wang felt that Bailey was an inspirational mentor. "He's the best example of how to support creativity with commercial success," said the winner who believes his experience as a designer for Max Mara and All Saints stood him in good stead. "My next step is to find more stockists and start work on the next collection,” added Wang, who as winner will receive support worth £100,000 and show at London Fashion Week in February.

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