Do you need training to be a successful fashion designer?

(25 Posts)
bevelino Sun 10-Feb-13 19:57:57

My dd would love to study fashion and textile design at college. However she has observed how successful Victoria Beckham has become as a fashion designer without training and is wondering whether she needs to study the subject at all. We are not against Victoria Beckham but would like to know whether it really is possible to become that successful without training?

MrsCampbellBlack Sun 10-Feb-13 20:01:36

Is your daughter in a hugely succesful band? Is she married to a famous sportsman? Is she photographed everyday because she clearly likes nice clothes?

If not - she may want to go to college.

MrsCampbellBlack Sun 10-Feb-13 20:03:17

Sorry not being flippant but honestly - she needs to go to college if your question is serious.

bevelino Sun 10-Feb-13 20:14:50

We are being serious! I have always suspected that VB isn't the real designer however the way in which she markets her designs and show cases at all the fashion weeks makes it look as though she does all the designing herself. Furthermore no one else is given credit for her designs.

joliejolie Sun 10-Feb-13 20:18:57

Erm, no. The extent of Victoria Beckham's imput is to say "I'd like a ruffle collar" or "pleats here". You obviously need quite a bit of training to not only know how to put everything together and adjust for different sizes, but to know cuts, draping, etc.
Behind all of HER designs, is a group of very talented people who pull it all out of the bag.
This is all pretty obvious btw.

MrsCampbellBlack Sun 10-Feb-13 20:20:55

I don't think how much of the design VB does is relevant - as I said unless your daughter is incredibly famous and has a rich backer and manager its irrelevant. She needs to go to college.

JuliesSistersCousinsAuntsCat Sun 10-Feb-13 20:22:45

She'll need to go to college and/or do a degree or an apprenticeship if she wants to start from the bottom.

All the rest of us mere mortals are not VB!

bevelino Sun 10-Feb-13 20:27:09

Dd only 15 and thanks everyone for their replies. It will be college/apprentice rather than fabulously rich husband me thinks.

MrsCampbellBlack Sun 10-Feb-13 20:29:58

I'd agree that's the better way smile

orangeandlemons Sun 10-Feb-13 20:30:07

I did my degree in fashion. You have to learn stuff like pattern cutting, proportion, balance, construction, fabrics etc. However, this was in the days before Wags, now it seems like anyone can be a designer...the on thing you cannot be taught is flair and creativity.

I worked for a long time as a designer, however, I never knew anyone who just did it, they all had degrees. A word of warning; IMO it is only suitable for young people. You start to lose touch and interest as you get older, and also it is incredibly competitive. Lots of internships and low pay.....unless you know the right people. however, for the 8 or9 years I did it, I had the time of my life. Shopping trips all over the world with company credit cards, loads of overseas travel, exhibitions, meeting buyers from all the top stores, great colleagues. It was fun at the time....but to the most ethical or caring of professions

orangeandlemons Sun 10-Feb-13 20:30:35

..but not the most ethical...

No, she will need to study, and try amongst tough competition to gain an internship or badly paid foot in the door.

I inwardly cringed at an episode of Real Housewives of Orange County when some talentless no mark pulled out a portfolio of napkins with crude sketches of handbags on them which a four yo could have sketched

orangepudding Sun 10-Feb-13 20:37:21

One of my friends has her own fashion label. First she did a degree then worked as a buyer for some high street chains, when started her label when she was 30 - she wanted to do it from a young age and it was hard work but she got there!

MrsCampbellBlack Sun 10-Feb-13 20:38:06

There is a big difference between any old towie person putting their name to something and a designer. I suspect VB falls somewhere in the middle.

orangeandlemons Sun 10-Feb-13 20:49:35

I suspect VB tells someone what she wants who then sketches it for her. She will then have a pattern cutter to do all the problem solving and turning it into reality, then some machinists who will sew it up for her.

She will just be paying for it all

CointreauVersial Mon 11-Feb-13 00:58:09

Oranges, you say it's only for young people.....my mum worked as a fashion designer since the 60s; she was high fashion back then, but as she got older things evolved, and she developed a successful business designing wedding dresses and cocktail frocks for a private clientele, and as the resident designer for a posh clothes shop.

She worked in the business until retirement, and always said it gave her the flexibility of starting a family, working from home etc.

She did have a degree, and is very scornful of the VB school of fashion design!

joliejolie Mon 11-Feb-13 11:05:38

I agree 100% oranges. I also know what you mean about fashion being a young person's game. I've known two relatively successful designers who have both moved on after around 10 years. One opened a lovely shop that only made it for four years! I think fashion is so fickle and unless you are a big player, people tend to forget about you as the times and trends move on.

Even Stella McCartney started out behind the name of a big house and now she uses her own talented people who design in her name. Happens all the time, of course. I mean just look at the big fashion houses and count the ones who are even still alive! It's a bit heartless, but many people consider it experience for when they go out on their own.

It's so difficult to do it as a lifelong career though. Of course there are people who can adapt with the changes, but most tend to go into the industry with their own visions and dreams.

orangeandlemons Mon 11-Feb-13 19:34:45

Cointreau, perhaps I should have been a bit clearer. High fashion (eg cutting edge, very fashionable) is a young person's game. Cocktail wear and wedding wear, are ideal for when people,get a little...older. I knew no middle aged designers when I was doing it. People tend to move sideways into,promotion or marketing as they get older.

KandyBarr Mon 11-Feb-13 20:23:29

Why is it a 'young person's game'?

Stella McCartney, Anya Hindmarch, Sarah Burton, Vivienne Westwood - hardly straplings, are they?

orangeandlemons Mon 11-Feb-13 20:38:48

No, they're not, but they are mega designers. I am just basing it on my experience. Very few designers reach the peaks of the above, the majority design for the hoi polloi. But if you are designing stuff for say TopShop, it would be much harder in your 50's than in your 20's. When I was a designer I knew no one who was over 40 in the industry who was still a designer.

CointreauVersial Mon 11-Feb-13 22:00:57

I totally agree with what you're saying Oranges, but what I meant is that there's a life-long career out there if you want it.

A bit like footballers moving into coaching when they're too old for goals!!

fridgepants Tue 12-Feb-13 22:08:40

I think Vivienne Westwood was completely untrained when she began, but she had the luck of being in the right time and place (M.McLaren was an incredible salesman - the Sex Pistols were formed purely to sell clothes to begin with) as well as talent. There are some people who come up from street fashion rather than the art college route, but it's rare, if only because training gets you contacts. Henry Holland started as a journalist and had no fashion training, but knew enough people to be able to get his slogan tees out there.

Has your DD tried making her own clothes as well as designing? Playing around with patterns is a very good way of teaching proportion and fit, and picking up vintage patterns is surprisingly cheap. There's a very steep learning curve with learning to make your own clothes, and it would be great if she could start getting that experience under her belt now, and just learning how different fabrics behave and drape. (This will sound massively patronising if she's already whipping up couture gowns smile

comelywenchlywoo Wed 13-Feb-13 08:45:57

My husband and I had a "discussion" about VB and how much designing she actually does. He maintains it's none and she's a puppet, but I think we just don't know.

She could be doing all the sketches and fabric sourcing etc then handing over to a pattern cutter seamstress to make the designs reality. I doubt Stella gets her machine out that often anymore either........

just sayin'

<dons hard hat>

byanymeans Wed 13-Feb-13 09:20:17

IMO it depends on who you know, who you are (VB for exsample) and what you want to 'do'. If she wants to do design illustration work the best people i know doing that did fine art at college and then a fashion based degree. If it sewing making then a fashion course may work best. I did graphics at college but always keeped sewing at home the fashion foot wear at uni for 2years now im a clothing seamstress from home making vintage inspired one offs. Honestly i think no matter which way she goes the key is to do extra, sew at home. Make clothes from shop patterens and start playing around with them. Dying fabrics and sketch all the time. I know the basics of how to make lace, spin wool, knit, crochet, weave, dye with chemical and natural dyes, pattern cut clothes shoes, clothes and make some hats. A lot of that is self traught or short courses even youtube and vintage books. College and uni teachs alot plus gives people contacts but there are is so much more to learn to give her an edge. There are so many other things to learn which she can start now and who knows where it might lead. Uni didnt make me a designer / seamstress my life did. :-)

orangeandlemons Wed 13-Feb-13 16:28:44

I would agree with the sewing at home. You just cannot be a proper designer unless you know how to construct garments. Understanding of construction comes first, designing second

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