The Duchess of York

Thu, 18 Jun 2015 13:29:00 BST

The Duchess of York... a key supporter of the charity Women's Interlink Foundation that helps badly-abused women in a region of India take control of their lives.  In the video is a newsreel of the day's events when she came to the University of Huddersfield to meet the talented design students who had worked to a design brief set by The Duchess herself.  

TEN talented fashion students presented Sarah, Duchess of York, with a difficult dilemma when she visited the University of Huddersfield.

You can view a photo gallery of the day's events here.

She had set them a brief to design textile products that could be made by Indian women who are being trained by a charity in which the Duchess is closely involved.  Now she came to see the results and hear the students explain how they developed their vibrant designs for clothes and bathroom accessories such as wash bags. 

Then The Duchess had to decide which of the five portfolios would be selected for possible production and the prospect of being placed on sale by major chain Topshop.  She was clearly impressed by all of the offerings and joked that “I would hate to be Simon Cowell!” 

But although she finally plumped for an overall winner, she also decided that there would be no losers, because The Duchess – clearly moved and impressed by all of the work on display – then declared that all of the student teams would have their designs produced and showcased by a new charitable website she is launching. 

Before she made this announcement, The Duchess selected the work of final-year students Emily Cliffe – who has studied fashion design with textiles – and Chantelle Mallin, whose course was fashion design and marketing

The two students decided to concentrate on menswear for their range of wash bags, duffle bags and loungewear.  Emily, aged 22, from Bridlington, produced the prints and Chantelle – aged 23, from Barnsley – worked on the designs.  For inspiration they delved into Indian temple culture and the imagery of the god Shiva, while choosing bold, contemporary colours. 

Shortly to graduate and seek work in the fashion industry, the two students were delighted to be chosen by the Duchess and they are excited that their designs, after being hand-made by Indian craftswomen, could be marketed by Topshop.

Although the Duchess was obliged to choose a design portfolio she left the onlookers in no doubt that it was a tough decision to make.  “You are all winners!” she said.  And then, after extra deliberation, she told the delighted students that, “the winners are the winners, but we’re going to start up a website called Philanthropreneur Ltd and are going to make up each one of your designs because everyone has such different tastes”. 

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