Representing the creative future

WORK IN PROGRESS: Albane de Saint-Laurent

The Institut Français de la Mode student on the importance of work experience during fashion studies

The final year MA Knitwear student at IFM, Albane de Saint-Laurent, gives us an insight into the disconnect and struggles of completing a creative course under lockdown restrictions in Paris. Albane’s profuse background in professional internships with Margiela and Schiaparelli has led to her creating exquisite knitwear projects and sartorial designs with a whimsical element. After graduation and some celebratory bubbly, Albane plans on creating more personal projects that combine her love for illustration with the inspiration from her family.

Albane de Saint-Laurent' fittings

How did your university respond to the pandemic? What were and what are the rules? Do you attend the lessons online?

During the first confinement, we had some online classes, trying to pretend that all was going to be fine and would see each other soon. When the lockdown was announced our knitwear teacher allowed us to take home as many yarns and movable machines in order to try working on our own. I took a domestic machine with me, even though I was in need of an industrial or a dubied one for my project. I attempted to use it a few times but I couldn’t do what I wanted with it, which made me sad and I just gave up.

“I decided to completely let go of my project for some time and to do only things I liked. I started drawing and painting a lot. It felt really nice because I didn’t have as much time as I would like during my studies to practice my passions.” – Albane de Saint-Laurent

Our two teachers stayed in Paris. We scheduled online meetings via Zoom every week. They would give us feedback on our work or even make us some samples on the industrial machine. I was feeling terrible at the time; each meeting felt like a reminder of my inability to work. So, at some point, I stopped answering them. After a month of negative feelings, I decided to completely let go of my project for some time and to do only things that I liked. I started drawing and painting a lot. It felt really nice because I didn’t have as much time as I would like during my studies to practice my passions. I used some of the drawings I made during this first confinement as prints.

The hard part came when we had to start our final collections. We all felt exhausted at the time, and the school kept on talking about presenting our work during Paris fashion week and having a fashion show. I had a big downfall of morale. I felt like what we were doing and fashion was pointless, meaningless… We were also afraid of another lockdown because a lot of people in my class and students in France, in general, felt very depressed. The situation proved to be much better for us than for most students because it was decided by the [French] government that manual studies – including fashion – would be exempted from confinement: We were allowed to work at school with stricter rules and shorten opening hours, so I feel lucky that my school didn’t close again (for now).

Albane de Saint-Laurent's collages
Albane de Saint-Laurent's illustrations

What is the main inspiration behind your work, and what is your work about?

People, especially family and friends are my source of inspiration. My work is very personal and it has very often helped me reflect and create a new fantasy world for each of them.

“[At Margiela] I realised the importance of the yarn:  we can use anything and everything in our creations and be really crazy with knitwear. ” – Albane de Saint-Laurent

Have you done any fashion internships, placements, or jobs? if yes, How have they helped you evolve?

Before I started my master’s at IFM, I decided to take a gap year to gain professional experience and have a break after a very emotional bachelor. I first started with a two months internship at Margiela as a stylist assistant for the womenswear knitwear designer. There, I had the chance to work with the most amazing and understanding person and got a real overview of the work of a knitwear designer. I realised the importance of the yarn:  we can use anything and everything in our creations and be really crazy with knitwear.

I then interned for 6 months at Schiaparelli where they needed me for drawings which were used as an inspiration for embroideries. The team gave me the opportunity to carry out an entire project with an alphabet made out of insects – which are one of Schiaparelli’s symbols. I did all the research, drawings, and technical drawings for the embroiderers. When I saw my work embroidered by a famous Parisian house, I felt so proud.

“Sustainability is more about a way of life in my opinion. Do you turn off the light when you exit a room? Do you pay attention to what you purchase?” – Albane de Saint-Laurent

Is sustainability a big part of your work? If yes, in what way?

Is it something that inspires my work? No. But is it important? Yes. Sustainability is more about a way of life in my opinion. Do you turn off the light when you exit a room? Do you pay attention to what you purchase? Do you change your clothes every week or even every month?

Albane de Saint-Laurent's work in progress

When are you graduating? Are you nervous to finish fashion school? 

Around March, my final project will be over and so will be my work at school. But I have to do a final 6 months internship to graduate. HELL NO, I’m not nervous, rather relieved. It’s the beginning of my new life.

“I believe fashion in France is too uptight. With covid, people working within the fashion industry realised how good it was to actually have a life outside work.” – Albane de Saint-Laurent

What are you thinking of doing after graduation?

A flute of champagne to celebrate and a good night’s sleep would be a nice start. Then work and gain more experiences before developing a more personal project maybe with friends and family. I would also love to make something out of my passion for illustration.

 

Is there something in the fashion industry or education that you would change/improve?

I believe fashion in France is too uptight. With covid, people working within the fashion industry realised how good it was to actually have a life outside work. The pressure is too important. What we need are fewer rules and more fun. Like in England, where fashion week is now genderless. I hope Paris will do the same.

1 Granary

Magazine Issue 6

With unprecedented honesty and depth, 1 Granary Issue 6 dives into the work and lives of fashion designers today. As a response to the construction of desire and personality cults that govern our industry, the magazine steps away from the conventional profiles and editorials, focussing instead on raw work and anonymous, unfiltered testimonies. For the first time ever, readers are given a truthful insight into the process, dreams, fears, hardships, and struggles of today’s creatives.

Buy Now