As Debenhams gears up to open its newest store at Friars Walk on 12 November, the department store is excited to announce the finalists from its design competition launched in association with University of South Wales.

To celebrate renowned Welsh fashion designer Julien Macdonald coming home to Wales to officially opening the store, a competition was launched to uncover a rising star of fashion design.

3rd year fashion design students were given a brief to design a capsule collection for the forthcoming Christmas party season for the Star by Julien Macdonald womenswear brand which is sold exclusively at Debenhams.

Eight finalists* were selected by an esteemed judging panel including representatives from the design team at Debenhams, course leaders at the University of South Wales, Clare Filer, store manager of Debenhams, Newport and Julien Macdonald.

The finalists will now join Julien, who is an Honorary Fellow of the University of South Wales, at the store on 11 November where he will unveil the overall winner.  They will also be the first people to see the store before it officially opens to the public at 10.15am on 12 November.

The winning student will be awarded an internship in the design team at Debenhams head office in London, a £500 Debenhams gift card and the opportunity to display a design in the Newport store in 2016.

The store’s manager, Clare Filer, commented: “The standard of entries received was extremely high and each entrant demonstrated a passion for fashion and design.  Their understanding of the brief and of the Star customer was evident and they had all clearly undertaken lots of research.  The eight finalists selected really stood out and we can’t wait for Julien to select the overall winner in our new store on 11 November.

Irene Dee, Course Leader for Fashion Design at the University of South Wales, said: “All of the students that have taken part in this competition have shown real enthusiasm, energy and most importantly creative ability. They have produced some fantastic designs and we are looking forward to finding out who the winner is on 11 November. Our course aims to get students ready for the world of work following graduation, and this live brief has given them a great insight into working with top brand names.”

Stuart Harris, commercial director and co-founder of Queensberry Real Estate, said: Stuart Harris, commercial director and co-founder of Queensberry Real Estate, which owns and developed Friars Walk, said:   “Throughout our time in Newport local community involvement has been really important to us. We are really supportive of Debenhams, as our anchor store for Friars Walk in running this competition and are pleased the winner will have their designs displayed in the Newport store.”