- What I actually study here
- Working in an LA fashion show!
- Why LA and not New York?
- “Welcome to the land of fame excess…”
- A famous (Filipina) FIDM grad: Monique Lhuillier
- Christian Siriano: Fierce Transformation
- FIDM Debut 2010 Runway Show
- Do it the Zara Way
- Top slambook question for fashion
Back in college, the first days of school are really interesting for me since I got to see how words in a course description translate into real, practical classes. This is even more apparent now that I’m in fashion school! I have read and reread the course descriptions several times when I was choosing my major. Now I get to experience the real thing! Anyway, It’s been 3 weeks since school started. I’ve been wanting to write about my classes but didn’t have the luxury of time. Now I am taking a break from studying so here goes my blog entry.
My major is Apparel Manufacturing Management and I am in the Professional Designation Program (for those who have college degrees already). Here are the classes that I’m currently taking:
1. Survey of Manufacturing And Merchandising
An overview of the Manufacturing and Merchandising industry in the US. It aims to teach us everything from the phases of the fashion cycle to the product development stages, elements of fashion marketing, types of retailers, etc. The basic lessons and terminologies that you SHOULD know if you would like to work in fashion. I think that this class can be learned simply by reading the texbook, but our teacher really makes things interesting by giving us experience-based information and by entertaining all kinds of questions about the industry. He has worked in fashion for around 50 years so he really has lots of things to share. I always bring out my post it notes during this class to write down random, practical infos from my teacher. For instance, when starting a business, it is important to establish an online store first (have an established customer base before shelling out money for a physical store). Uhuh I should keep that in mind.
2. Textile Science
Yes there is science even in fashion school. Just imagine, what if a designer made children’s clothes out of a really flammable material? Disaster. So really, it is important to learn about the properties of different textiles in the market. We were also told that there are no more new designs being created right now, just old ones with new fabrics (ultra absorbent ones, non-wrinkling ones, etc.). I am definitely not a science person, but seing the practicality of what I’m actually studying makes science much more bearable😛
3. Wholesale Selling
A whole class devoted to giving us lessons on how to sell our lines to buyers (those who choose the items that department stores sell). Lessons include how to negotiate prices, how to keep the buyer’s attention during a presentation, how to maintain a good relationship with a buyer, etc. We are also asked to develop our own line (complete with infos about showroom location, production facility, turn time, etc.). For the finals, each student will be doing a selling simulation. It’s interesting since we haven’t opened our text book at all. Everything comes from the teacher and from his so many years of experience. Also, this class exciting for me since I used to be a merchandiser / buyer for a local department store. It feels challenging to be on the other side of the coin this time🙂
My book for Wholesale Selling which we haven’t opened yet. According to my teacher, you can’t teach sales through a book. Although I agree with him, I’ll probably read this anyway during my free time.
4. Apparel Process I
The hands on part of fashion production. Here, we are taught about patternmaking and sewing. Our classroom for apparel process is located at the heart of the LA Fashion District, which is a few blocks from the main campus. We are actually having class in a building where garments are being produced for real fashion lines. So cool. We were also given a toolbox with all the things that we would be needing for sewing and patternmaking. Uhuh I will be using these things forever and ever.
5. Technical Sketching
Before this class, the closest that I got to fashion sketching was during my really boring college economics class that forced me to draw menial clothes on the border of my notebook since I had no other interesting choice. So the bottom line is, I was so scared of this class. But after 3 weeks, I grew to like it. Our instructor teaches us drawing techniques which make it seem like we’re so good in sketching! Hehe. I would like to think that our creations are out of sheer talent, but really, most of it are based on “drawing formulas” and our really good rulers😛
So there you have it. 5 classes down, 19 more to go before graduation😛
Just came home. It’s 1pm now and I won’t have class till 3pm so I’m just gonna write about what happened this morning🙂
So basically, my school has this wonderful student portal where all the job listings are posted. I found this job opening in a fashion show that was being held here in downtown LA, and it was perfect since I don’t drive yet at the moment. It was the Directives West Fall’10 fashion show which was a combination of different brands.
The call time was 7:30am, but I really don’t mind waking up at 5:30am since it was my first time to work in a real fashion show and I was excited. Yay🙂
Basically I was a dresser. I was assigned a model and a rack of clothes with around 6 looks. The rack has a huge board which states the description and the order of each garment and accessory for each look. So my job was to help the model get dressed in between her walks and to make sure that her looks are in order.
I was told that it was a pretty relaxed fashion show. The looks were pretty far apart (my model’s 1st look was number 22, and her second look was number 57…) and there were only few people screaming. Still, it was my 1st time so I found it kind of chaotic but exciting at the same time. I had to rush everytime I dressed my model since the looks had lots of layers (dress, vest, scarf, leggings, socks, shoes, necklace, earrings, hat). And I had to make sure that the shoes were buckled properly or else they will come off while the model is walking on stage.
Overall, it was a really really great experience! All the people were suprisingly nice! I told my model, Kira, that it was my first time doing this and she said that I did a great job. Haha well she was really nice and modest😛 I also met a few people from my school and most importantly, learned a lot and gained work experience (no matter how short). I will definitely do this again soon🙂
Whenever people find out that I’m studying fashion, they always ask me why I chose to study in LA and not in New York. NY is perceived to be the fashion capital of the US, but my main reason of going to FIDM in LA instead of Parsons or FIT is really my major. I’m taking up Apparel Manufacturing Management, a fashion entrepreneurial program which combines fashion design and business management. However, this quote from Tim Gunn (which came out in the LA Times Magazine) made me realize that LA does indeed play a huge role in the fashion industry.
Tim Gunn on Project Runway’s move to FIDM LA – Last year, when we began taping season six and made the move to Los Angeles, I came here kicking and screaming. I was resigned, but I am a New Yorker… There is a sort of New York arrogance that asks, “What does Los Angeles have to offer when it comes to fashion?” But I had been here less than 48 hours when I had an epiphany. In New York, everyone was copying Europe; there wasn’t an original thought. But here, thanks to the film industry, there was this robust incubator for tons of creative ideas. So, I thought, Wait a minute! It’s the home of film and television, of all the high-end red carpets. And then I realized if it’s not happening here, it doesn’t mean anything.
Fashion now a days is a very celebrity driven industry. The top fashion magazines have celebrities on their covers every month and most of the time, who is in the front row determines the success and popularity of a fashion show. Sending a bag or a piece of clothing to a particular celebrity and having her photographed in it is a better marketing strategy than spending a fortune on advertisements. Also, what the celebrities wore to the Oscars are sometimes even remembered better than who the actual winners were. This is why LA, being the entertainment capital of the world, indeed plays an important role in the formation of trends and in determining the success of a brand. Now maybe when Suri Cruise is all grown up, she can wear stuff from my (future) clothing line. Hehe😛
Okay, so I’ve been here in LA for 3 weeks already. I decided to go a month before classes start to:
1. First and foremost, to get used to living here. When I first arrived here in LA, I looked like a stupid little innocent girl. During my 1st day, I wanted to buy a sim card so I went to Best Buy and circled the store for some time before asking someone. The person looked at me weirdly and told me that you couldn’t just “buy a sim card.” I needed to buy a phone even though it’s prepaid. And ofcourse I made him explain how the prepaid system here works, and I eventually figured it out after 2 more days and a consultation with at&t.
My phone which I got only for $99
2. To learn how to commute. From the time I got here, I have been going around mainly by public transportation (and lots and lots of walking). And mind you, the public transportation here is soooo confusing. There were times when I have given up and have resorted to taking a (really really expensive) cab. LA is huuuuge. It’s so big that I have never seen a complete bus map (unlike Paris wherein the subway map can fit at the back of any notebook). Aside from their major public transpo system, different cities also have different bus lines, and this translates to different sets of maps, fares, and headaches. However, one good thing about LA is that the streets here are straight, unlike in the Philippines wherein the streets are in all kinds of weird angles.
Inside the bus
3. To run errands. I had to get a California ID, open a bank account, and most importantly, look for an apartment. At first I wanted to get a private bedroom in a shared apartment. But then I realized that roommates can be tricky, especially if you don’t know them. So I eventually settled for a studio unit at The Met, just across my school. The building is super super nice (and expensive!!). Well atleast it’s my very own place and I’ll just be a few steps away from my school. Also, it’s a far cry from my 9 square meter bedroom during my exchange program in France!! I’ll be moving already on Wednesday. Yay exciting!
4. To travel before classes start😀 This is a great time since I do not have school and work yet. Good thing I have close friends living here in LA. Plus there are lots of other people from my high school who are here on the west coast. I’m glad to have close friends here even before classes start😀
The quality of graduates was one of the factors that I considered when choosing a fashion school. Thus, I was able to read about Monique Lhuillier during my research. Monique Lhuillier is probably the most internationally known Filipina designer at the moment (well actually, she is a mix of French, Spanish, and Filipino, but still). She was originally from Cebu, Philippines, but she left the country to attend a boarding school in Switzerland when she was 15. After which, she went to FIDM in LA to study fashion design. Monique Lhuillier was originally known as a bridal designer. A personal quest for the perfect wedding gown during the preparations for her own wedding inspired her to create a company specializing in wedding dresses. As the company grew, her husband (Tom Bugbee) who recently got an MBA took over the business side of her company. Such a nice fashion love story if you ask me. Here are some amazing wedding gowns from her most recent bridal collection. Hopefully I can already afford a Monique Lhuillier dress by the time I get married. If not, I will just have the gown copied. Hehe🙂
Today, Monique Lhuillier does not only design wedding gowns but also evening gowns. Her dresses have received various Hollywood red carpet moments (as Rachel Zoe would say).
But of course, Monique’s clothes do not need by to be worn Hollywood celebrities in order to be noticed. Her creations are by themselves, breathtaking. Below are my favorite pieces from Monique Lhuillier’s Fall 2010 collection which was presented in Bryant Park during New York fashion week.
I am pretty sure these gorgeous gowns will make an appearance at the red carpet real soon!
So there you have it. The morale of the story is: go to a great fashion school, work really really hard, create dresses that you yourself would like to wear, and marry a really good business man. And of course I am kidding on that last one😛
(PHOTO CREDITS: bridal colelction photos from moniquelhuillier.com, red carpet photos from redcarpet-fashionawards.com, RTW Fall 2010 photos from style.com)
My favorite Project Runway winner, Christian Siriano, used to create avant-garde pieces which you would either love or hate. He knows who he is as a designer and he can definitely put on a great show. But of course, the runway is so much different from real life. What looks good in a fashion show does not necessarily translate into clothes that real people will actually wear. Here are some pieces from his final collection in Project Runway Season 4. The guest judge, Victoria Beckham, LOVED his pieces. But we all know that Victoria Beckham is Victoria Beckham. The bottom line is, not everyone can pull of a Christian Siriano look…
Final Collection in Project Runway
…that was until recently when he presented his Fall 2010 collection in the New York Fashion Week. Most of his pieces still have the Christian Siriano trademark, although his clothes are now so much more wearable. I am also happy to see flashes of color in his collection:
One designer told me that it is much more easier to tone down a design, rather than to turn something wearable into an avant-garde piece. With the example of Christian Siriano, I now believe that it is also better to start with almost exaggerated pieces which show your vision and identity. Having a unique point of view is important especially since the fashion industry is already saturated. Once your aesthetic is established, creating wearable pieces which will translate into profit will come naturally.