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Friday 9th August 2002
Helen's Polo pullover makes her a mint
Helen Pearson
Helen Pearson pulling strings with Italian fashion
Will design student Helen Pearson get to see her competiton winning, Polo Mint inspired top ever again? Or is it lost in a fashion black hole?

Annabel Caulton finds out more.
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FACTS

The Polo mint is 54 years old this year.

Two tonnes of polo mints are produced each hour in York at the Nestle factory.

Two thirds of Polo purchasers are women whilst pensioners account for a quarter of all sales.

Polos are an official Kosher food since Nestle replaced animal based steric acid with a vegetable version
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It may only be a humble mint, but the Polo has proved a 'hole' new inspiration for one Derby-based design student.

Helen Pearson (19), who's just about to enter the third stage of her BA Hons in Textile Design at The University of Derby, starts her final year with a prestigious award tucked under her belt but no idea whether she'll see her award winning design ever again.

I'm trying to find out if I can buy one of the finished garments once they've been made
Helen Pearson - winning designer

Helen’s design for a ‘refreshing’ summer top – which is based on the mint with a hole - has scooped the prestigious International Knitwear Design Award from the celebrated Italian knitwear manufacturer Annapurna.

The snow-white cotton top, which scoops off one shoulder and is covered with tiny knitted polo-shaped halos, has been whisked off to Italy to be copied in cashmere and sold to European fashionistas.

Helen, who's from Dudley in the West Midlands, was philosophical about the turn of events: "Obviously the top's a one-off and it went off to Italy to be judged, now it's been claimed by Annapurna and I'm not sure if I'll see it again, which is a bit sad. I'm trying to find out if I can buy one of the finished garments once they've been made."

Helen modeling the top
Helen models the top before it's whisked off to Italy

Helen told us more about her design: "I just love Polo mints, their simplicity and their shape. So, when I was looking to create a ‘cool’ top for summer it seemed the obvious choice to use them in the design."

The top was actually something of a nightmare to make though: "The knitted Polos were so fiddly and it was tricky to get them just right, I felt like a jumble of fingers and thumbs for a while. It was quite frustrating but I'm glad I chose something of a challenge." she told us.

The Annapurna knitwear competition is by invitation only. And as well as having her designed coutured, Helen won a cash prize of £1,500.

She's now left wondering if the mint that she's made will be enough to buy back her own top.
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