Not too long ago, I had a reader asking about fashion design and how I came to work in it. I thought that it would be good idea to talk about it in my blog, just because if I can help more than one person, it would be good.
I was thirteen when I decided that I wanted to be a fashion designer (in a big- name kind of way, my aspirations are a bit different now). I think it was becasue I thought that I could earn better money in fashion than I would as a starving artist (as I put it at the time). I wasn't the most fashionable thirteen year old either, but I liked to draw, and I liked to make things, and this combined the two. By the time I had reached high-school, I was tailoring (excuse the pun) my education to a fashion direction, taking a combo of all the normal papers, plus sewing and design. I failed my final year high-school design paper and was bitterly bitterly disappointed. My style at the time was heavily influenced by Viviene Westwood- I had also gone through the late 90s (woohoo!) stage of toggles, clips, shot fabric and elastic. Not to mention coloured electrical wires used excessively...
I however got into Massey University's fashion design course, which was well regarded, and pushed myself. I made sure that I learnt to draw, patternmake and sew to the best that I could. I really enjoyed uni, looking back, but at the time it was a never- ending round of assignments and no sleep. I miss being able to sit and look out my window, listing to music, eating jellybeans and drawing (sigh). My style by that stage, had moved away from Westwood-esque crinolines and punk, to something more streamlined and clean. I liked to create garments that look simple, but were hellish to patternmake. I got into denimwear- I still love to read Sportswear International. It is amazing how fashion design students can easlily preclude trends- alot of what I have seen at design school has eventually come into mainstream fashion (often several years later though..). See our work here.
To make sure that I was actually able to get a job in the industry I did work experience- this I think is really, really important. I did work experience at Akira and at Zambesi. I think that it is quite important to get into a uni that you think is good, and that will help you get to where you would like to go. I still aspire to go to Central St Martins (As per thirteen year old dream), so when I go to England in year or so's time, I will treat myself to a summer paper there (Which one??? There are so many choices!)
Today I work as a design assistant. A design assistant is different from an assistant designer. Confused? An assistant designer works mainly on the design side of things, and a design assistant works on both design and technical stuff. Day- to- day I do alot of patternmaking, garment specs, and production related stuff. We design only at certain parts of the year, so that is a mix of researching, sending off textile prints to get printed and creating storyboards. We do sampling for new styles at the same time. My friends from uni work mainly in patternmaking, design assistant, merchandising and buying- so a bit of all the main fashion type jobs there. I think it is amazing that people can work in couture houses. You would have to be a perfectionist. Perfectionist. And I still struggle with the concept of high-fashion people- I simply don't get it- but it makes great movies and TV (Devil Wears Prada, Ugly Betty, Zoolander etc). My kind of daydream-fantasy job would to be a fashion illustrator. Then I can draw the clothes and not have to make them....
As I work and deal with the realities of commercial fashion, I have little time to dedicate to my own fashion work, and have in turn, taked to crafting. I like crafting beacuse of the scale of the projects- small, but detailed (excepting the blanket on the knit). My approach to fashion design is getting a little more homespun too- my choice in fabrics and colours are softening up, and I'm wanting to experiment with draped garments more (except I don't have a mannequin..) This is really coming to the fore as the clothing vs. jewellery project slowly takes shape- I'm really getting lots of ideas (and driving my tutor crazy in the process).
Lets see how it turns out
PS. My computer is feeling a little less congested now, so will be back to posting at a normal pace. Yay!