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14/01/2016
I know, I've done it.

Words by

Kalli Loukides

Fashion school. It’s one of those things that people imagine to be right out of a movie; a combination of something like The Devil Wears Prada and Project Runway. 

Wrong.

OK well actually, they're kind of right. There is some direct correlation between a fashion course and what you see on TV. However, it's also unlike anything anyone else can understand. Unless you stick out the three or so years yourself. 

When someone describes a hard task as requiring their “blood, sweat and tears” they probably don’t mean it literally. But in a fashion design course, your days will incorporate one, if not all, of those. (Sewing machines needles going through your finger can actually happen, so stay alert.)

If you're thinking of studying fashion, you probably don't quite know what you're in for. So drawing on my own experience at Whitehouse, here's a list of 12 things nobody tells you about studying fashion.

1. It helps if your classmates look like models

For fitting purposes, every hour on the hour. Stripping down in the classroom is a regular occurrence when checking whether or not that silk slip dress covers enough nipple.

2. You’ll have no shame in becoming the ultimate bag lady on public transport

You'll be carrying evrrrything but the kitchen sink. Also be prepared to cop angry stares from pretty much everyone on board. It's fair enough too, your piles of fabric are taking up the last free seat on the tram. 

3. Dressing up for class isn’t a thing. 

It's activewear on the reg. No one’s got time to 'dress to impress' when they're cutting and sewing for eight hours a day. Oddly enough, it's actually considered strange if you wear your beautiful Willow work shoes to class.

4. Late nights handsewing hems and early morning sketching on the train is your reality.

Tomorrow’s deadline is 9am and that denim pinafore dress you’ve beautifully constructed still doesn’t have a hem and, oh thats right, I’m supposed to include an illustration with that folio tomorrow.

5. Assignments submitted are completely subjective

You must remember that unlike your classic commerce or arts degrees, all collections and folios submitted are completely subjective. Each tutor/teacher/lecturer will have a different style and taste. Most of the time, there is no right or wrong answer.

6. People can’t always be trusted in the workshop classrooms

“Did you steal my unpicker?” Be prepared for battle, label everything and keep your area super OCD tidy.

7. The ability to identify your own signature style is the key to a smoother studying experience

A consistent trend over all subjects helps shape your style, which will go a long way in the industry.

8. Your university will assume money grows on trees

“Just make sure to get that folio bound professionally, and make sure your button holes are outsourced.”

That's $200 gone in a day. There are also those ongoing costs you cannot dodge: thread, pencils, coffee, calico, pins, watercolour paper, more coffee, zips, buttons, more calico....

9. Not every well-dressed creative type can survive the entirety of a fashion course

Usually it is the go-to course for that person that enjoyed Vis Com in high school and loved watching The Hills on school holidays. However, there is so much more to a fashion course than the froth and bubble people see on the surface. 

You can't force that drive and motivation on someone, unless it is truly what they want to study. It's definitely not the easy option - it's actually a harder alternative to most courses.

10. There is no greater bond formed between friends at uni than during a collection crisis or printer breakdown

Sewing machines and your desired fabric are mates only 20 per cent of the time, which is why it's a relief to know your classmates will stand by you. Especially towards the pointy end of the semester, there is a strong "we’re all in this together” vibe.

11. Only the passionate will survive

Love what you do, and you’ll make it out the other side.

12. The sense of accomplishment

At the end of this beautiful educational journey, seeing your graduate collection on the runway, it's like no other feeling. That sense of accomplishment will remain with you forever. 

whitehouse-design.edu.au

Like the sound of this? The Whitehouse Institute of Design will be holding an information session at their Sydney and Melbourne campuses next Thursday January 21 from 6pm-7pm.

Contact them now to register on 1300 551 433 or email enquiry@whitehouse-design.edu.au

Photography: 
Simon Shiff

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