Wednesday, 6 November 2013

The British Fashion Council Comes to PGS

by Phoebe Warren


Fashion panel: OPs sharing their experiences of working in the fashion industry

On a Friday afternoon just before half term, an audience of budding fashion hopefuls gathered in the DRT for the British Fashion Industry Seminar. The crowd was only in part made up of Grammar School students; other Portsmouth school pupils were invited, as well as OPs.

Penny Mordaunt MP  
We were first welcomed by Penny Mordaunt MP, who explained just how exciting and up and coming  the industry is; “Fashion is one of Britain’s great unsung success stories”, Penny began, “It contributes £21bn to UK GDP and yet it is too easily dismissed as ephemeral and trivial...There is so much more to the fashion industry than designing clothes; without management, seamstresses, pattern cutters, tailors, set designers and so many more people it would simply not exist.”

Simon Ward, OP and former head boy, fashion guru and Chief Operating Officer of the British Fashion Council, then enthusiastically presented a short description of his life’s work, internships and finally London Fashion week.  He introduced the 5 panellists, OPs who have left PGS within the last decade and are each in different ways pursuing a successful career within the fashion industry: Misli Akdag, based in New York where she works freelance in TV and film; Emily Garrod, who has set up her own business as a bespoke designer and dressmaker; Daisy Harris-Burland, who has set up her own company, Dumpster Design (who recently won the 'Radical Designer of the Year' with her Seven Deadly Sins collection); Emily Morgan, who has pursued a successful management career at John Lewis and Waitrose; and Maisie Skidmore, who is an editorial assistant at London-based publishing platform, It's Nice That.

Simon Ward OP offers career advice to PGS pupils
London Fashion week is England’s flagship event in the fashion world. New and upcoming designers alongside well established names present collections and collaborations to display the best of our British flamboyance, style and pioneering pieces to top designers and media worldwide. “Hype” is a word commonly associated with  LFW on the basis that the event forms many trends and shapes the direction in  which fashion is advancing. Moreover, who wouldn’t get a little excited at the prospect of Cara Delevingne walking the catwalk in Burberry’s latest ‘it’ dress? Let alone the countless bottles of Mo√ęt & Chandon popped,  the unrolling of the red carpet and the sky ablaze with the flash of the eager paparazzi snapping each stiletto, dress and face involved with the production.

So is it hard to get into the fashion industry? In short, yes, but it doesn’t mean that you can not achieve it. The main message we took away from the afternoon, is if you believe and try hard enough, then you will be able to make it. Always be pro-active and keen to try new experiences and talk to people who know what it’s like. The OPs in the industry all agreed it was not the easiest of jobs despite its reputation:“95% work and 5% glamour”. The industry is certainly not for the lazy; the work day stretches far beyond 9-5, and most have not heard of the concept of the weekend. On the other hand, even with the stress and commitment to the industry, to have a job that you absolutely love and have a genuine passion for is worth that extra effort.

Some designs by Daisy Harris-Burland, founder of Dumpster Design

See also Charlotte Povey's article, How to Make It in British Fashion



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