Great Yorkshire Show: Designers Mary Benson and Jack Wainwright are wowing at home and further afield. Stephanie Smith reports.
It’s hard to catch Mary Benson during festival season. She is usually whizzing about from pop bands to TV and radio presenters, working on commissions they have given her. She is, it seems, creating quite a name for herself as a creator of “something special” – quirky one-off pieces designed to grab attention.
“I have just made some T-shirts for the Klaxons,” she says. “I don’t usually do menswear, but they are friends of friends. And I have just made a jacket for Gemma Cairney, the Radio 1 presenter, for Glastonbury. It’s a bomber jacket with a big G on the back and holographic prints.”
Mary, 23, is from Leeds, where she trained at Leeds College of Art before heading to the University of Westminster to study fashion there. She didn’t complete her degree course, however, and set up her own label instead, although she is going back this September to finish the course, now that she has some real-world experience (including working for Alexander McQueen) under her belt.
Jack Wainwright, meanwhile, has just completed his degree course in fashion at the University of Northumbra. A 23-year-old Barnsley lad, he too is making an impression with his bold yet contemplative knitwear designs, many of which are inspired by his home turf.
“I thought I’d bring it back to heritage,” he says. “Looking at Yorkshire and translating it through knitwear.”
The result is an astonishing collection of menswear with knitted designs featuring, for example, a Fair Isle style pattern based on mining shafts, and other creations inspired by the film Kes, reflecting falconry wear.
Of knitwear, he says: “I definitely fell in love with it. It’s so diverse and, as a skill, it’s so hands on.”
Jack’s collection will feature on the catwalk of the Skipton Building Society’s Fashion Pavilion at this coming week’s Great Yorkshire Show, alongside Mary Benson’s autumn/winter collection, which is inspired by, among other things, the rose in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and Russian princesses.
Their designs will be joined on the runway by Pure Collection, Brook Taverner, Hobbs, Harrogate College, Umpie Yorkshire and Whitby jet jewellery from W Hamond.
There will be four catwalk shows a day at the Skipton Building Society Fashion Pavilion at the Great Yorkshire Show, which runs July 9-11 at the Great Yorkshire Showground in Harrogate.