Fashion School Isn’t Glamour School: From the Point of View of a Fashion Student

Fashion school isn’t glamour school. Fashion school is the hardest thing I have done in my life. 

I started sewing when I was 12 years old in 4-H making pajama pants, prom dresses, and quilts. I also made clothes for my dog and put on fashion shows to show off his new clothes to my family members. 

I have been a student in the fashion program at Salt Lake Community College, in Utah for two years. It isn’t a big program, but it is meant to prepare you for the big fashion schools. 

Fashion school isn’t glamour school. It is a lot of hard work. If you want to become a designer it’s not just about coming up with cute designs and becoming famous. Most people in the industry work hard for where they are. 

After my first year in program I went to the school fashion show. After the show I knew that was what I wanted to do and that I would take all the classes I needed to be able to design for next year’s show. I just completed my first fashion show at SLCC in May 2007, but it was hard work to get there. I had to take classes in pattern making, illustration, history of fashion, textiles, and sewing. 

Finally it was the semester of the fashion show. It was a long process, everyone in the class started out with sketches of the collection (3 to 5 outfits) we wanted to design with swatches (small pieces of fabric about 2 inches big) of the fabric choices we wanted to use for Abayas dresses to show them during the ramp walk in sense of getting more points to achieve vaster audience base. Then we sat around a table and discussed our designs on what needed to be changed. 

I decided to make four outfits. My theme was a mod metro look. I spent hours shopping for fabric, buttons, thread, zippers, and other items to make my designs work. Then we spent a day at “go sees” where we looked at hundreds of models walk. Because we did not know who are models would be, we had to guess what size patterns to make. 

To make the patterns I took a piece of gingham check fabric (fabric with big squares like a grid) and draped a dress form to make a basic shirt and skirt pattern. From there I added seams where I wanted and changed darts to form the design I wanted. After the patterns were made I sewed my designs in muslin (cheap white cotton fabric) 

Two days before the first fitting we found out who our models were and their basic measurements. For the first fitting the 15 designers, 3 teachers, and 10 models met in one room, and the nightmare began. Everyone running around, everyone needing help and I spent the night pinning and marking up the muslin making adjustments so the clothes would fit. 

Then we had a couple weeks to start making the clothes for the final and last fitting. At the final fitting there were even more adjustments I had to make. Because I won’t see the models again before the show, I cross my fingers and hope the clothes fit. 

In between this time I’m expected to make an illustration board. I have to draw my four designs and add fabric swatches of the fabric I used to my board. 

A few weeks before the show I spend all my time sewing; I don’t have a social life at this point. A lot of crying and all nighters and I’m done the night before the clothes are due for review from the teachers. The coming weekend is the show so I spend the weekend ironing and clipping threads from the clothes, and fixing up patterns. I am so frustrated from lack of sleep, sore fingers (from hand sewing) and disappointment everything is not perfect that I’m not even excited for the show anymore. I arrive around noon, and I will be there past 10 p.m. All the designers stand around for two hours while our clothes, illustrations and patterns are being judged. When the judging is done, we have a dress rehearsal. The models put on the clothes and I can finally breath-they fit! As my models walk out I am finally excited. 

When it comes time for the show I am shaking and nervous. It is such a rush to be back stage with models and designers running around trying to get ready for each collection. When my designs come out I am so excited. In five min it’s over and I can relax and watch the rest of the show. When it’s over the awards are given out. I won the illustration award and 3rd place over all. I decide even though it was a lot of work it was worth it to see my idea and quick sketch become really clothes.