Have you ever watched a period drama like Mad Men or Downton Abbey and thought "where do they get all those amazing clothes?". Well, the answer is their Costume Designer!
In a costume and fashion design career, you'll use your creative and artistic skills to research, design and create items of clothing for film, theatre productions or just everyday wear. If you've got a creative streak and have a passion for clothing, theatre or film; this could be the career choice for you. So how does it all work?
This month, London-based costume and fashion designer Lia Parravicini tells us about how she got started and what it takes to become a successful designer....
Name: Lia Parravicini
Industry: Fashion Apparel Design & Clothing Manufacture
What is your job: Fashion Designer and Business Owner
How long have you worked here / been doing this job? 8 years
College: Diploma of Clothing Design and Manufacture (3 years)
GCSE: Art and History.
Circus/Aerial Training, Dance, Vintage Jazz, Ballet. Hair and Make-up Styling.
What was your very first job?
It was display presentation for a supermarket.
What did you want to do when you were at school?
What made you want to get into costume and fashion design?
When I was 17, I worked for 5 years with a boutique vintage costume house where my interest in vintage clothing and culture quickly developed into my passion.
How did you get there?
It was a combination of the 5 years working for a costume house, completing my diploma of clothing design and production, and work experience. After I completed my diploma, I decided to organise a work experience placement with a costume and mascot production company called “Character Creations”.
While working there I met my current business partner who ran a performance company and offered me a troupe placement to which I then established myself in the performance community. After a while I began my own company: Fallen Feathers specialising in haute couture costume and fashion design including pret-a-porter online collections.
What is a typical day at work/project like?
It involves following up customer enquiries, emails, blogs, website maintenance, and production scheduling. With current projects I will spend a lot of time on design and research, looking for products and materials, budgeting, pattern construction and CMT (Cut, Make, Trim.)
What’s the best thing about your job?
Flexible schedule and unlimited creativity!
What is the most challenging thing about it?
It would probably have to be project management (planning and organising projects) and continual financial security.
What advice do you have for people who want to do what you do?
Fashion Design (along with all careers in the arts) is incredibly competitive and generally not financially stable. If you are passionate about entering a career in fashion production, study at a well established institute that educates you in all aspects of the rag trade to ensure you truly understand the industry.
You will need to be naturally creative with good visualisation and artistic skills. You also need to develop a strong business plan (this means setting out what you want to achieve and how you will do it). Fashion may be an exciting field but you need to rely on strong planning skills in order for it to succeed.
What things do you wish you’d known before starting this job?
You really need to figure out how to sell or market the things you design. Without marketing your product is just an idea of what you hope to achieve. You may create the best product in the world but without marketing there will be no one to buy it!
Where would you like to be in 5 years?
I hope to continue my couture business as well as build my pret-a-porter collection to a more sustainable income.
Image by Anna Fischer CC Attribution