Representing the creative future

To rookies with love: Regrets and advice from veteran fashion students

What did you learn from your fashion studies and what would you change if you did it all over again?

As the academic year comes to an end, Central Saint Martins’ last generation of  BA fashion designers is taking the next step in their careers. Five of this year’s graduating class reflect on their time studying at CSM and share advice. How prepared are they for their entry into the professional world? What are some of the key lessons they’ve learned throughout their studies that they intend to take with them? How do they now approach designing, and what might they have done differently if they were to start their bachelor’s degrees again? From the importance of placement years to staying true to their own preferences and instincts, their answers reveal valuable tips for the budding designers following in their footsteps. Considering the pressure and prestige of a design degree at CSM, these insights might help the next generation of students navigate the challenges ahead.

Adam Faurschou, BA Fashion Design and Marketing
Considered the climate advocate of his year, Adam delivered a final collection that was an ode to his pursuit of integrating natural resources into our western model of fashion consumption. He benefited from his tutor’s support to introduce sustainable modules to the course curriculum and handbook. His fondest memories and learnings were achieved during his placement year at Acne Studios and Chanel. “The applied fashion knowledge that I gained at Acne Studios and Chanel complemented my pre-existing knowledge about concept development, research, and building aesthetic universes. Understanding that different garment stereotypes are created to go with different people, rather than fashion solely being an outlet for creative exploration.” As well as encouraging a well-rounded approach to learning through industry experience, he emphasizes the importance of slowing down and enjoying the process – rather than getting too caught up in academic pressure. “Being organized and prioritizing health, sleep, nutrition, and social connections is what makes you a better designer. If you want to be ambitious, the best thing you can do is be organized and prioritize all the things that make you human.”

“Being organized and prioritizing health, sleep, nutrition, and social connections is what makes you a better designer.”

Ida Immendorff, BA Womenswear 
“The advice I would give someone embarking on this course would be to work on your ambition. You will be challenged, questioned, and criticized. It’s not for the fragile. You need to believe in yourself, in what you want to convey, and no matter what comes your way, take it in your stride – but never abandon your dream.” Ida’s final collection, inspired by the Franz Kafka quote: “I was ashamed of myself when I realized life is a costume party, and I attended with my real face,” explores societal norms, values, and power structures through the lenses of circus and costume cultures. When thinking back to her time in the studios, it’s the late nights with her classmates before deadlines that make up some of her fondest memories. “I learned how important it has been to work amongst creative people, especially considering those friends you make may one day be work colleagues. We all want to work in the same industry, so building relationships within those four years is fundamental.” Her next step in the industry includes exploring the potential of her designs for costume, movies, and performances. She’s determined to apply her learnings to a wider scope of practice.

“Don’t focus on sketches and collages but actually learn how to make clothes.”

Patrick Dougherty, BA Fashion Print 
Patrick Dougherty is taking his next steps into the professional world with the hopes of continuing his trajectory as a print designer. Patrick looks back fondly on his time with his classmates, citing group projects as a highlight of his CSM experience. “My biggest advice would echo Rick Owens, who says: “Don’t focus on sketches and collages but actually learn how to make clothes.” I wasted so much time in the first and second year drawing and making elaborate sketchbooks, which would be fine if I didn’t have to make the clothes. Building pattern-cutting and sewing knowledge early on is a helpful way to succeed on the course. Give yourself the strong foundations to succeed.” His final collection is based on his teenage wardrobe, which he rediscovered during his trip home last summer. Reminiscing about his own awkward growing pains, he wanted to contrast them with an undercurrent of raw, adolescent horniness. “The biggest learning of all was which aspect of design I want to focus on post-graduation. I learned that there are so many processes and skills that go into designing and making a garment that I don’t necessarily enjoy. Especially on my placement year, I saw how many different departments there are under the fashion design umbrella. It’s important to discover which aspects you like while you’re studying and hone in on those.”

“Instead of focusing on making lots of things to make a big impact, I wish I’d thought clearly about what I actually enjoy.”

Mia Coco Chambers, BA Womenswear
Winner of the Disney and Canada Goose projects, Mia says these industry-led projects prepared her well for her placement year when she worked across Harris Reed, Schiaparelli, and Molina. “I think the best thing for a placement year is to divide up your year between a pattern or specific skill-based internship, and then working within a big company. When you come back and you apply for jobs later on, it [makes it] easier.” Mia’s final collection was inspired by the different character archetypes you meet at fashion events and parties, encapsulating her exposure to the inner circles of the industry during her time at CSM. On what she might have done differently, she emphasizes the importance of not letting people-pleasing tendencies obstruct your vision. “I think I spent so much money on this final collection because I was trying to show tutors and the audience so many things, but not for myself. I didn’t let myself think about whether I even liked my own designs, so I may have spent money in the wrong places. Instead of focusing on making lots of things to make a big impact, I wish I’d thought clearly about what I actually enjoy.”

“Don’t change things that aren’t broken, learn to repurpose and develop past ideas.”

Joshua Rogers, BA Fashion Design with Marketing 
Joshua’s final collection, titled The Third Kind, is an exploration into the nuances and intricacies of anatomy, dissecting the intersection between the human and the animal through experimental pattern cutting and surface design. “I’ve learned a lot from my peers and allowing myself to be fascinated with how clothes are cut and made to flatter bodily proportions. Learning the traditional rules of cutting allowed me to later subvert them and express my design language. The course has allowed me to develop a deep personal design style that reflects my own experiences and desires.” His love for craftsmanship and detail landed him a place at Alexander McQueen during his placement year, which he hopes to return to now that he’s graduated. The highlight of his time at CSM was the chaos and excitement of the show day, when three years of work were crammed into a few minutes on the catwalk. “I don’t have any regrets, but I do feel that during my final year I was always digging for the next best thing – whereas I should have stayed true to my vision, because in the end it looked exactly like I’d pictured it at the start. Don’t change things that aren’t broken, learn to repurpose and develop past ideas.”