Having completed the Extended Diploma in Fashion at Ashford College, Cripa moved to West Kent College to study the Foundation Degree in Fashion & Textiles (where she got a distinction) followed by the BA top-up degree.
In 2016, she was announced as the winner of a top national design prize, the Hainsworth Statement Award, worth £1,000, at the prestigious New Designers expo in London with her handmade fashion collection inspired by nature and its elements, Earthen Solidity, chosen from amongst the thousands on show.
The award is for the most creative and innovative used of a cloth or fabric in a finished product, demonstrating a flair for fresh new ideas. In addition to the prize of either cash, Hainsworth cloth or a combination of both to a value of £1000, the winner is invited to visit the prestigious Hainsworth Mill, whose cloth is used for the ceremonial uniforms worn by the Royal Family during state occasions and the military uniforms worn during the Charge of the Light Brigade.
Cripa was overwhelmed when the judges chose her collection for the award:
“I never dreamed I’d be selected - and am beyond happy and honoured. I’ve always worked really hard and now feel this has paid off. I didn’t expect to be spotted in a small cohort from a small college, up against universities like Central St. Martins and De Montfort! I hope the fact they picked me offers inspiration to subsequent students.”
“I’ve loved my entire course, especially the final year. Staff have been very supportive and accommodating, allowing me to work late in the studio, as I don’t have sufficient space or resources at home.”
Cripa explained that the financial support from the college had a big impact on her impressing the judges at the expo: “The College funded 60% of the stand this year and the funding enabled us to buy better quality fabrics. My work may not have caught the attention of the judges if it had been made from inferior materials.”
The judges cited imagination, innovation, versatility, and good use of fabrics as reasons for selection, saying: “Cripa’s work shows excellent vision... a capsule collection that speaks of a longevity within the fashion industry and a bright and exciting future.”
Her collection consists of androgynous garments created by free-form pattern-cutting. Using locally-sourced wool fabrics with buttons she made out of wood, the collection promotes and supports a sustainable fashion industry.
Cripa offered the following advice to would-be designers: “Be prepared to work extremely hard if you want to succeed. I’ve hardly slept in the last few months and have just been designing and making all hours.”
Cripa Yangkhrung wasn’t the only student who sparked interest at New Designers. Heather Thunstrom was approached by Wilkinsons for their textiles department; Charlie Bidois was selected to the final three from hundreds of entries in a competition to design a label for Absolut Vodka, a major sponsor of New Designers. Curtis Ferris was approached after the College fashion show by a costume design company, who have offered him an internship.
Their lecturer, Susan D’souza, said: “I’m very proud of all the students and thrilled and delighted for Cripa. This is the fourth year we’ve exhibited at New Designers. There was a lot of interest from employers and prospective students, due to the quality and hard work of this year’s group.”