Galashiels fashion designer Flora Collingwood-Norris was given a right royal seal of approval last week when she met Prince Charles.
The occasion was a private view of the 2015 Cambrian Mountains Wool Design Challenge exhibition in Aberystwyth, and the guest of honour was the Prince of Wales, in his role as patron of the Cambrian Mountain Initiative.
Flora was one of an elite band of innovative designers, creating high fashion garments and accessories using Cambrian mountain wool, selected for the prestigious international showcase.
From the small studio she has converted in her flat in Victoria Street, Galashiels, the former Kelso High School pupil specialises in luxury knitwear, with an emphasis on hand knits and crochet, using ethically sourced British wool.
“Having the opportunity to discuss my work with Prince Charles was very exciting, if a bit nerve-wracking,” Flora told the Southern.
“I was actually wearing a cardigan with the design that won me my place at the Welsh exhibition when I met the Prince and he was very complimentary about it.
“He even asked if I was selling any, but I had to tell him my collection for the show was still at the prototype stage but would go on sale later in the year, made to order.
“Who knows? I may have a famous customer”.
Flora, 29, graduated in 2009 from Heriot-Watt University in Galashiels with a first class honours degree in Design for Textiles, winning the Doctor Oliver Medal for best overall student of her year.
Her acclaimed graduate collection was featured in international magazines, with pieces displayed at the Borders Textile Towerhouse in Hawick.
Flora spent two years living in London, working as a freelance designer, before making the decision to return to the Borders.
Since then, her reputation for designing and writing unique patterns, with vivid and original colours and textures, has soared, with her work appearing in the London Fashion Week collections of fashion icons Jasper Conran, Christopher Kane and William Chambers Millinery.
She has also struck up a successful business relationship with specialist yarn company Whistlebare of Bowsden near Berwick, designing and modelling her own creations which are retailed online and in the firm’s studio shop.
“Although London was a worthwhile experience, I always felt something drawing me back to the Borders which is, of course, the heartland of textiles and knitwear in particular.”