I did my Fashion BA in Manchester. I’d done a year of Fine Art first, which was great but it wasn’t the road I wanted to go down. Towards the end, I had so many unanswered questions and things that I wanted to be able to do; I realised that my education was nowhere near complete. Halfway through my final year, I applied to the Royal College of Art. In some ways, it would have been good to have a break and save some money, but at the same time, I wouldn’t change the way I did it. It was intense, steamrollering on, but it was good to maintain that creative flow.
I only applied to the RCA, which I think was due to the strength of the Menswear programme. I came to an open day, and I knew nowhere else would suffice. The openness across different programmes and opportunities to collaborate were really appealing, and the atmosphere was very welcoming.
From the get go, you’re thinking in a completely different way to undergraduate level. I knew immediately that a lot more was expected of me, not just in my drawings but in how they were delivered, and in my confidence, explanations and presentation of my ideas. It was a quick learning curve.
Everything changed for me at the RCA – instantly and constantly. As soon as I arrived, I was working at a different level, harder than ever before and to a professional standard. You know that you’re there with the best of the best, with people who really want to be there and have worked incredibly hard to get there. Everyone wants to push themselves up to the next tier. It’s not competition, but everyone’s striving to be the best they can be.
You do so many different things in the first year, some of which you love, and some of which are a challenge, but I always tried to make the best of every project. That variety helps you to hone in on what your work is really about and become more defined as a designer.
Towards the middle of the second year, I started working with Áine Byrne, a Textiles student. We got really involved with each other’s work, and that was completely supported and encouraged from every direction, which wouldn’t always have been the case at other universities. By collaborating, you develop so many amazing things that you’d never come up with on your own.
With Zowie Broach as the new Head of Fashion, the setup for the Show was a really different flavour in our year. It wasn’t a typical fashion show and had a real stark, fine art style to it. From articles I’ve read about it and hearing people’s responses, I think everyone felt it was something fresh and new, and that was a huge thing to be a part of. It was great to see everything come together, after two years of everything building to this one point. Having said that, the Show isn’t a true culmination; your work as a designer continues long after that, so in many ways it’s the beginning of something.
Around halfway through the second year, I’d applied to the British Fashion Council Colleges Competition in collaboration with Burberry. When I was called to the interview, it was a really busy time at College, so that was quite stressful. But I won the first prize, which was an internship. On the day of graduation, Burberry rang me, asking me to come in and give them my details to start the internship, and then 15 minutes later, the fashion brand E.Tautz rang to invite me to an interview. I ended up getting a job with E.Tautz through a British Fashion Council scheme that funds positions with young, fast-growing companies. It was a company I’d long admired and it’s been a great place to work so far.
"As soon as I arrived, I was working at a different level, harder than ever before and to a professional standard. You know that you’re there with the best of the best, with people who really want to be there and have worked incredibly hard to get there. Everyone wants to push themselves up to the next tier."