Designing Women
March 29, 2005 1:38 PM   Subscribe

Somehow, I've managed to take a liking to haute couture. As in, fashion design has begun to interest me greatly. I am seriously thinking of a career path in it, or at least willing to pursue it to see how much interest I can maintain beyond, "that's really neat looking." Some basic, naive questions lay within.

I have extensive sketching and drawing experience but left it behind in high school. I'm currently studying in the field of international business and also majoring in English (odd combo, I know). For the last couple of years I've taken a serious interest into fashion. I've been toying with the idea of entering a design school after I graduate but realize I have no connections within the industry or any fashion design experience. Which leads me to the following questions:

- How hard is it an industry to penetrate? Say I'm not good at actual design itself, but wanted to work for a design house (much rather be Prada or Gucci than, uh Gap). Is it a pretty insular snobby community that stays "within the family"?

- Any books or resources I can start using to grab ahold of what it takes to design clothing? I have a fairly strong business background but no experience with say, sewing. I do have a fairly strong art background, but not in fashion.

- Is this all akin to all those film majors hoping to make it big in Hollywood, or is the fashion industry a little less overcrowded with hopefuls-from-birth? As in, most of the people I know in the film industry were interested in doing it and worked on short films from high school on... if I wanted to get into film I'd feel as if I'd be way far behind -- is this equatable to fashion design?

I should say quite emphatically, clothes in general do not interest me. If I had to create polos for Kohl's I'd definitely do something else, ultra-hip Oscar de la Renta collections make me salivate.
posted by geoff. to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (3 answers total)
I should say quite emphatically, clothes in general do not interest me. If I had to create polos for Kohl's I'd definitely do something else...

Dunno about fashion, but in architecture (for instance) you're much more likely to end up designing strip malls than the next Fallingwater, at least for a dues paying period if not your whole career. Same thing with set design, industrial design, graphic design, etc. etc. etc.: most of the work needed is pedestrian, not cutting edge. If you can't stomach that, it's probably not for you.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:44 PM on March 29, 2005

You're talking about Designer Ready-to-Wear, not haute couture.

Maybe you want to be a buyer or merchandiser? or work in the showrooms selling those clothes to buyers? or contribute in another way? You could take classes at Parsons or FIT, or St. Martin's in London, but it's not like you'll be able to design anything for a while (and even then, unless you're Jan Wenner's boyfriend and he's willing to pump millions into your career, or you're hired for some celebrity's fake line. There are jobs, but you wouldn't get any credit at all for years, and many people find they don't like slaving away so that a bigshot can be praised for something they did.)
posted by amberglow at 2:02 PM on March 29, 2005

Honestly, I'd say you have about a snowball's chance in hell at ever landing a position at Gucci or Prada. The Italian design houses especially tend to be pretty insular, and very snobbish. If you want to make a name for yourself in the fashion world, my suggestion would be to start your own line. If you live in a semi-major city this really should be relatively easy, the tricky part is getting noticed and selling. I know that seattle, at least, has a budding fashion community (I can hardly say it's an industry, since it's hardly creating revenue at this point) - look around and find other people interested in making awesome clothes in your area. They're there, I guarantee.

Check out Amazon for books, and also your local friendly Intarweb. If you have a good solid drawing background, just start drawing! Draw a bunch. Learn to sew (or make friends with someone that already knows). Buy a dress form. Use recycled fabric (hello, thrift store!). Find amateur models who are willing to work with you for free (there are plenty. I am one.) Book a club for a show, set up a website, shamelessly self-promote! These days, it is all about the DIY.
posted by salad spork at 4:53 PM on March 29, 2005 [1 favorite]

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