An Insight into a Fashion Student: Fay White
Being a student in any degree is difficult; cue stressful all-nighters working to finish that last page of one’s dissertation; exam-cramming, and nail-biting final presentations. Imagine all of that, coupled with the struggles to finish a garment on time; the preparation and running of photoshoots and catwalks, and the fierce competition to be successful. Just this month, I had the pleasure of taking part in the final collection Graduate Fashion Show of the Fashion and Textiles School, at The University of Essex. Both the dress rehearsal and the show itself were chaotic, with stress-raging designers and dressers cavorting around like headless chickens. But, it was also the most exciting and eye-opening experience.
Just by modelling, I grasped a small amount of the anxieties and drives that the blossoming designers all possess. In that environment, one easily understands how much hard work has been put into making each garment perfect, and how greatly each designer wants their garments to be displayed to the audience in the best possible way. I interviewed Fay White, one of the designers whose clothes I was thrilled to model. I questioned her about what it is really like to be a fashion student, her inspirations, and what next as a graduate:
ASBO: Hi Fay! It was a pleasure to be a part of the show. Tell us about an average day in the life of a final year fashion student.
FAY: It is very busy and chaotic, because we are all independently trying to create our final collections. It can be very stressful at times, as you have so much to do andfocus on. Graduates are constantly either in the print studio, fashion studio or the mac suite, working on digital prints to send off.
ASBO: What kind of environments are the fashion and textiles rooms to work in?
FAY: It is very busy! A highly creative and positive atmosphere. Obviously, art subjects can get competitive, and certain people can get bitchy and more competitive thanothers, but overall, it is a happy and encouraging atmosphere. We all push one another, giving advice and critical opinions.
ASBO: Is there much competition in general?
FAY: There can be when we are competing for briefs and design competitions. Overall, I don’t think we are, at Essex, insanely competitive. Individually, we just want towork creatively. I personally focus on what I am doing and what I am acquiring. I want to push myself to do the best I can, I don’t want to focus on someone else’s work, because it’s completely different from my own and won’t help me.
ASBO: Did how wealthy a student is, ever weigh upon how well their collection came out?
FAY: No, this misconception isn’t the case. You can spend a fortune on a collection or a little amount, and both can turn out looking great. I think it depends on thedesigner, how, and what you creatively do with the fabric, the techniques you use.
ASBO: What was the toughest part of your final year?
FAY: There are so many! Relying on others, print companies or suppliers, because you are always on a tight schedule. It makes you feel that you don’t have any control; things can go wrong or be delayed, which pushes you back, time wise. Completing all my pieces on time within my six outfits was challenging, as all together I hadnineteen pieces.
ASBO: Your final collection was centred around the secret male society, the Freemason’s. Please, can you explain your reasons forpicking such a theme, how it influenced your collection, and why it interested you so much?
FAY: Both my Grandad and Dad are Freemasons, so I’ve been brought up looking at interesting signs, symbols, and their ‘little blue book’ (ritual books). I’ve always beenawed by their beliefs of helping others— they are the second biggest charity givers within the UK, just below the Lottery. People have misconceptions about what they are; within the media there are preconceptions and allegations based around the illuminati. Some people are afraid or unsure about them, but this is probably because of theirsecrecy. The organisation is male dominated, and I wanted to function such masculinity into a diverse womenswear collection.
Another reason, is the antiquity behind them. The Freemason’s were not formed as a secret society, but WWII drove them underground, so history recorded them as a secretsociety. Masons within all countries occupied by Germany, before and during the war, were forced into hiding due to their religious beliefs and faith. Hitler and the Nazi’sbelieved that The Masonic Lodges were a clandestine society, conspiring with the Jews. Masons had to hide to save themselves from being persecuted, murdered andbeleaguered. However, now they are becoming more open to society and coming aground.
I took a lot of inspiration from the architecture and interiors of the Freemason Hall in London, also called the Grand Lodge. The detail throughout the building isincredible. The feature lines, and detailed signs and symbols used in the decoration is symbolic to Freemason beliefs within the Brethren. The signs and symbols arehighlighted throughout my collection, depicted in half drop, repetition and feature points. I wanted to reflect how the society is becoming more transparent, whilst stillconcealing certain signs to reflect that there will always be some secrets kept. I used lining and secret pockets within my garments, to reflect their secrecy.
ASBO: What are you plans for after graduation?
FAY: I’ve arranged an internship specialising in Fashion Buying with Fenwick Colchester, where I currently work as a sales assistant. I’m also in the processes ofarranging work experience in fashion buying for Arcadia in London. I’d like to gain experience in fast fashion buying and buying into brands for a high-end store, toacquire experience in two different areas within fashion buying. Then in October, I’m hoping to start a post graduate course at the Fashion Retail Academy in London, tocomplete a six-week intensive course in fashion buying, merchandising and management.
ASBO: What was your favourite thing about being a fashion student?
FAY: The different briefs and themes we worked around. I feel as though I have always been able to challenge myself by being pushed out of my comfort zone, to try tocreate a collection using themes I never imagined being inspired by. You can truly be inspired by anything.
ASBO: We wish you all the best of luck, Fay!