I can't help you win FF@CG – the final decision will be John's alone – but I can help you not to lose before you even start. I hope that we have made it clear that we are not looking for fantasy but for flair; not craziness but originality; not costume but entirely new forms of cutting and shaping that can be used as the basis for looks that can eventually be worn at high-street level. We don't want to see hundreds of outfits only suitable for Lady Gaga. As John, Hussein Chalayan and Vivienne Westwood have shown – not forgetting Rick Owen, Helmut Lang, Azzadine Alaia, Rei Kawakubo and Junya Watanabe – great clothes with real ideas come from a philosophy … and young designers can't start figuring what theirs is soon enough. Otherwise they become, not leaders, but followers; part of the flock that spews out of colleges around the world every year and has no affect on fashion at all.
So, to potential applicants I would give this advice: Remember what the job of a leading designer actually is and study the approaches that put the ones listed above where they are today.