Ellen Stewart

Which company are you working for on your placement and what is your role?

I am working for KITTY JOSEPH, an upcoming womenswear label centred around the use of bold textiles and prints with a unique yet wearable aesthetic. I am based predominantly in the textiles section within the label meaning my placement is centred around the fabrics, surface and prints of the designs. I work closely with Kitty to develop a range of samples in relation to a theme or concept which are then edited by Kitty and her team to include in design for the final collection. My role is to develop technique and to support Kitty's vision through experimenting with and creating the fabric.

How has the LCF Careers team supported you in securing this opportunity and throughout your placement?

The careers team enable everything to run smoothly and ensure that your placement is supported, giving advice about everything from the job description to legal demands like insurance. The careers team offer advice to students and the company about all the nitty gritty and logistics of making a full time placement work practically and so the student and company are benefiting from each other. It is extremely helpful to have initial and constant support at hand if you need it throughout the placement.

What has been the highlight of your placement so far?

Working on the AW14 collection has been an invaluable experience. The main highlight is the excitement in the studio every time a new idea is had and created; it's such a buzzing creative environment. However, a particular highlight for me has been watching the textiles that I have been producing edited down and being able to produce them on a large scale for Kitty to use in final garments such as large jackets. Seeing pieces of work which started off as little swatches of idea realised into a final garment for the showroom is so rewarding! The final collection is being shown as a capsule in the Paris showrooms and being supported through a fashion film at LFW so i'm sure that will be a highlight; being able to see all the hard work Kitty and team have been working towards realised in a final collection!

How do you think your experience will help you develop?

The experience of working at KITTY JOSEPH has shown me a range of possibility for how I can develop a high level of professionalism and quality in a final outcome. Everything that is produced is made with the highest attention to detail and the finishes on garments are impeccable; I hope to re-create this finish in my own designs and realisations. Seeing the efficiency and the dedication to the design process displayed by Kitty and the team in a growing brand has inspired me to appreciate the beauty of originality with a dedicated personal approach to design.

How does your work experience build on the learning you’ve done as part of your degree?

My course is constantly challenging; with each brief being different to the last. Working in a fast paced environment is something that I am used to, however this placement has contributed to my knowledge of pace in the fashion industry in a different way. It has taught me that developing textiles for a final collection is not only about time but also about perfection and precision, which has been a different kind of challenge. It has been so interesting to control the explosion of a creative mind by applying it to the designer's realisation.

What are your professional ambitions for the future?

My future ambition lies in creating designs centred around print and bold fearless pieces. I think menswear is definitely interesting in terms of possibility, but also the idea of re-inventing colour and clash in womenswear are appealing to me. Colours are an endless source of possibility and I would love to work looking at pattern and interpreting it through design in a brand of my own or in collaboration. I would also love to drive change and use fashion as a force to empower individuals and challenge aspects of the industry which can be highly exploitive of people worldwide. I think it is important to consider all aspects of fashion and I have the upmost respect for ethical companies such as People Tree.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt so far?

I have learnt that when I have a million ideas, initially to run with them, but to put the run on a stopwatch! I have learnt the importance of editing and reflecting to achieve a polished outcome. I have also learnt the power of having a large inspiration wall!

Why did you want do your placement with this KITTY JOSEPH?

I wanted to gain experience within an upcoming brand with a more intimate team so I could observe the overall process of the whole label. I mainly chose to apply to KITTY JOSEPH because I love the design. The emphasis on textiles within the label was perfect and I applied to work with this label as I wanted a balance between being hands-on and creative with learning about the business and professional side.

What is your top tip for students looking for professional opportunities within the industry?

I think the most important priority is to learn and to explore new opportunities. Time is precious and if you're going to give your time to a company for free you need to do it in exchange for knowledge. It is possible to do this and a lot of companies want to work on a give and take basis. Before applying to any company, narrow down and specialise yourself as much as possible within the company corresponding with what you want to learn. Companies often don't have time to take these things into consideration so put yourself out there and be vocal about what skills you have and how you want to use them or else you'll be given more general tasks; don't be afraid to speak up for yourself as it will benefit you and your employer more to know your strengths.