Designer Stefanie Smith worked at top fashion house Burberry before setting up her own bespoke women’s tailoring business. This week she hit the business big time thanks to BBC One’s The Apprentice. The Holmfirth designer talks to JOANNE DOUGLAS about dressing the modern working woman.
APPRENTICE star Helen Milligan looked the business in the latest series of hit TV show The Apprentice.
And it’s all thanks to Holmfirth fashion designer Stefanie Smith.
The young designer dressed the Apprentice star and saw her clothes hit the headlines when front runner Helen was pipped to being hired by Lord Alan Sugar.
Aged just 25, Stefanie has come a long way since studying at Holmfirth High School.
She’s worked at one of the world’s top fashion houses, learning her craft as a pattern cutter for Burberry. In May she made a giant leap and set up her own business in bespoke women’s tailoring.
So is power dressing and the business look back in style? Stefanie certainly thinks so and having someone like Helen Milligan – seen as one of the Apprentice’s finest young businesswomen – has helped.
Stefanie said: “I wanted to show that women can be respected, sophisticated and beautiful and at the same time feel they have authority in business.
“Women often fell that masculine suits are the only uniform for them, but I want to show there’s an alternative.
“I am inspired by the modern working woman. Helen is a successful business woman who wants to look respectable, sophisticated and feminine all at the same time.
“My new collection offers the opportunity for women to feel confident and, more importantly, comfortable.”
The stunning pieces Stefanie creates demonstrates her passion and love for classical fashion with a modern twist.
One of Stefanie’s designs worn by Helen was a high-waisted dress with a pure silk top and a tailored lower panel. It is made from 100% British wool with casual rolled sleeves to create an ultra-sophisticated look.
Stefanie approached Helen during the series and made the dress exclusively for her. She wore it as she toured TV studios last week in the run-up to Sunday’s final, won by inventor Tom Pellereau.
The dress now features in Stefanie’s Autumn/Winter Collection for 2011.
Liverpool-born Stefanie moved to Holmfirth with her family in 1988 when she was just two-years-old.
Always creative, her parents Carol and Ray encouraged her to look around after leaving Holmfirth High School and they drove her to fashion colleges and universities, securing a place at Batley School of Art and Design.
“As soon as I’d done my first project there I knew fashion was where I wanted to be,” Stefanie said.
She went on to graduate from Nottingham Trent University in 2008 with a BA in Fashion Design and completed her Masters there in 2009.
At the time she was selling items in boutiques in the Midlands.
She added: “I wanted to set my own business up but fashion is such a competitive industry so I took some advice from the Prince’s Trust and sent my CVs off to some of the top-end fashion houses.
“Burberry came back to me and offered me a three-month internship in London.
“I was working under Michele Smith (Senior Vice President Womenswear) as a pattern cutter and I loved it. I learned so much and it was an unbelievable experience and from there I got a job at Burberry’s Castleford base.”
Having gained experience as a pattern cutter she decided to form her own women’s tailoring business.
She specialises in traditional tailoring, combining embroidery with creative pattern cutting.
Her designs are not her only selling point. She also uses British materials and is currently looking at forging links with Huddersfield-based textile companies.
While watching the BBC One show Stefanie got in touch with Helen and her fellow Apprentice contestant, Natasha Scribbins, and showed them some of her designs.
She arranged fittings and created some made-to-measure pieces.
Stefanie added: “Both Helen Milligan and Natasha Scribbins have been extremely supportive of my label, Stefanie Smith, and like them I am keen to become a successful business woman.
“This has been such a testing but exciting time in my life and I feel privileged to have been able to design for a very strong contestant in this year’s Apprentice.”
Stefanie makes bespoke pieces for women and is in the process of expanding so people can order her designs online.
Visit www.stefaniesmith.co.uk for more details.