MUSIC icon Heather Small was back in the North West to meet the next generation of fashion designers.

The former M people lead singer and now fashion designer, dropped into the University of Bolton fashion department in her role as an ambassador for Bolton Fashion and Lifestyle Festival, which takes place in October.

Four final-year students, Jasmin Maxwell, Sophie Scott, Moses Quartey and Paige Hilton, will see their collections worn by models on the catwalk during the event.

The Bolton News: UofB, Fashion Students, Bolton Fashion Festival

Heather (pictured) travelled from London with her sister Cheryl. The two are founders of Proudsista, a clothing brand with inspirational and emotive merchandise celebrating self-worth, said: “I have been blown away by the creativity, diversity and passion on display here in Bolton.

“The students are a magnificent example of northern talent and as an honorary northerner I am delighted to support these young people.

“Post pandemic it will be more important than ever to support our young people and it is so important to recognise the talent in the north, in Manchester, in towns like Bolton.”

The Bolton News: UofB, Fashion Students, Bolton Fashion Festival

Heather was joined by other festival ambassadors including international fashion designer Zeynep Kartal, Westhoughton fashion store owner Katy Rostron and Emma Neville.

Zeynep’s elegant designs are sought after by a growing number of British, Turkish and American celebrities, including Lady Gaga, Pixie Lott, Amanda Holden, Michelle Keegan, Cheryl Cole, Lady Gaga, Victoria Hervey, Michelle Keegan and Coleen Rooney.

She said: “I have been so impressed with what I have seen today.”

Zeynep set the students the task of designing a dress and she will produce the winning design at London Fashion week.

Paige Hilton, aged 22, who graduates in July, has been offered an internship by Zeynep.

She said: “It has been fantastic having experts look at our work, although a bit nerve-wracking.

“Studying at the University of Bolton has been brilliant, even during the pandemic. We feel that everyone has gone out of their way to help us.

“I can’t wait until the festival, it will be amazing to see our designs on the catwalk.

The BA (Hons) Fashion degree programme is run by Emma Fazackerley, Fashion Course Co-Ordinator and Lindsay Banks, Programme Co-ordinator/Lecturer.

The Bolton News: UofB, Fashion Students, Bolton Fashion Festival

Emma said: “We are delighted to be working closely with the Bolton Fashion and Lifestyle Festival, it is a wonderful opportunity for our incredibly talented students.”

She added: “The four students showcasing their collections each have a unique and interesting narrative.

“Each has presented creative responses to some of the most challenging issues facing the fashion industry, including topics around sustainability and cultural representation.”

Founder of the festival Lisa Forshaw said: “Everyone was blown away by the students’ work. I am passionate about Bolton and to see this amount of talent here in our town is just wonderful.”

Bolton Fashion and Lifestyle Festival will take place on the evening of Saturday October 9 at the Premier Suite at the University of Bolton stadium.