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The road to fashion design

“So dear, what are you studying?" asked my Dad's frienl's mother. 'Fashion Design," I replied tentatively. With a perplexed, disappointed look on her face, she turned to my Mother and asked, "Why is she studying this?"

Trust me, that is not the only person who asked me or my parents that question. Somehow people in Bangladesh cannot nathom the idea of there actually being a major that teaches you how to make clothes and that some people actually wan| to spend money to learn it.

Let's begin by moving away from the cliches and stereotypical notions. Let's move away from the local fashion columns and thing globally. I'm sure that names like Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Donna Karen and many, many more ring a bell. Well here's the scoop: they all went to fashion school and studied Fashion Design (FD).

In all honesty, if you want to study FD you'll have to sit yourself down and ask yourself if you really, and I mean really want to study Design. Confused? Let me explain. Fashion is generally linked to fame, glamour, and money. But the reality is that it is taking a big risk, putting everything on the line and then speculating if you'll ever get a decent job, let alone have the opportunity of opening your own line. It's a business where it takes money to make money and more often than not, people have to scrimp and scratch their way through. I'm not saying this to discourage anyone, but I'm a realist and I believe that only people who have a set mind on this as their goal are the only ones who are capable of taking this on and continuing till they ha~e their degree.

Just knowing that this is your goal is not enough. Design is a very unique major. It isn't like science, maths or accounting where you simply use your brain incessantly and work your behind off to achieve something. Everyone has those capabilities (whether one chooses to use them is a different story altogether).

Design requires a certain type of creativity and not everyone has that type of creativity. Now once you're sure that this is what yo} really want to study, see if you have the creativity that it takes to be a designer. What I'm trying to say is that you need to see if you have creative abilities, if you have the desire to create...be it anything.

At this point you're probably deciding whether you should read on or whether you should use this page to soak up the puddle of coffee you just spilt. Before you dip my dry words into a sea of caffeine, hang on, I'm getting to the really important part. Good. Once you've established that you want to study and become a Fashion Designer and you've realized that you possess the creative potential take a closer look at your abilities.

Can you draw, can you sew, can you sew on a sewing machine? Don't be alarmed. I didn't do any of those things and yet I still made it to Fashion School. The important thing is to identify your strengths an weaknesses. If you can draw, start sketching things that you would like to see people wearing.

If you can't draw, I suggest you start practicing how to draw the human body. There are a lot of books available that give you directions. Get some from New Mirket. As far as sewing goes, I knew how to sew by hand but I had never used a sewing machine. If you know how to sew by hand and you have an Aunt or Grandmother who uses a sewing machine, make it a point to |ake a few lessons from them and try making outfits, no not really outfits, prac|ice ones for yo}r sister's Barbie dolls lets say.

I know it sounds silly but don't make the mistake I did. I walked into Fashion School without a clue about making clothes and boy are clothes complicated objects |o make. Trust me the crash course wasn't pleasant. So take your time and learn. Another great way is to make an appointment with your tailor and watch him as he works.

So how does one actually go about studying Fashion Design? Well the first thing you need to decide is where you want to study design. I wouldn't recommend Paris or Milan unless you know the language really well, you feel confident that you can translate every thing into your own lingo and above all you can afford it.

London is a great place to study design but the costs are often astronomical for good design schools. Your best bet is America or Australia. Australia is the most affordable but Australian Design Schools tow behind the American ones. The problem with American design schools is that you will not get any scholarship or financial aid and are expected to pay in full. And it can get pricey. But hey, if the school you pick is a high leaguer, then just keep telling yourself that it is worth it.

Now there are a lot o American fashion design schools. Just because it's American doesn't mean it's good. A good way of finding good design schools is by looking through the school's Alumni list. If a school has Alumni like Donna Karen or Marc Jacobs, you can bet your money that it tends to be a good fashion school.

There are certain "chain" fashion schools like The Art Institutes or the Academy of Arts which offer design. These schools are quite okay but they are very expensive and they run in the quarter system rather than the semester system. Thus often you won't have long breaks where you can go back home.

For the purpose of this article, I'm going to concentrate on two of (if not the) top-ranking, best fashion schools in America. The first is Parsons School of Design (think Donna Karen, Marc Jacobs) and the second is the Fashion Institute of Technology(FIT) (think Calvin Klein, Michael Kors). Both schools are in New York City and both schools are in the heart of the Fashion District on Seventh Avenue, Manhattan.

Parsons (www.parsons.edu):
Parsons requires you to submit a portfolio that has five parts. The first is to write a 500-word essay describing an everyday object in your house. The second part is to draw yourself from the mirror and add foreground and background. What that basically means is that you add an environmmnt to the portriit such as you sitting in a room or near a window. The third part is making a collage of a space that you spend a lot of time in. Be an interior designer of sorts. You cut pictures from magazines and glue them on a page in a way that it looks like a picture of a space you spend a lot of time in. The fourth part is providing drawings that you have done from observations.

The fifth part is making a collage of a person you would want to design for. The final part is picking a season and designing five outfits for that person you made the collage of. In aldition to this, you have to have the standardized test scores and other paperwozk and documentation as indicated on their application. The only hard part about the portfolio is that you have to provide it on 3mm slides or on a CD in JPEG format. So take necessary measures to follow those requirements or else your portfolio will not even be seen.

Fashion Institute of Technology (www.fitnyc.edu):
FIT is a little more demanding. Apart from the application and essay their portfolio has a set of questions you need to answer. Be very careful hen you answer these questions because the people who review yo}r portfolio read these questions and create a mental image of you for themselves. The portfolio basically has four parts. One is ten sketches (back and front) of your own creations with fabric swatches. Two is pictures of clothes that you've constructed with fabric swatches. Three is designing for a specific woman, season and place. You get to choose the age, season and place.

The two times I have done the portfolio, it was basically to design two, tops, two bottoms and a jacket for a woman going away for the weekend. The outfits should be such that they can be mixed and match and be turned from day wear to night wear. These five sketches also require fabric swatches. The fourth part is sketching a outfit inspired by an object such as a piece of furniture or a building or a car etc.

The NIT portfolio is very specific, down to where yo} should staple everything. So make sure that you follow the ins|ructions to the T or it'll be counted against you. Now you might wonder why they would require that you already know how to draw and sew. The raw deal is that since, they are the best, they want the best and they are only ready to take people who literally eat, sleep, breathe and live fashion.

And generally such people know a little bit of drawing a little bit of sewing. Don't worry yourself thinking that your outfits have to perfectly sewn. What they are looking for is talent. They want to see if you can translate your inspiration to reality and that is why they want to see outfits that you've made.

With that info, start working on your portfolio. Contact these schools for their catalogue or simply go to their websi|e. Once your apxlication is in just sit back and relax. As soon as you get accepted, prepare yourself for a whole new life. Till then have faith, work for your goal and good luck!

By Tahiat-e-Mahboob

Campus news

Extempore speech competition to commemorate Ekushey

A competition on extempore speech was arranged by The Oriental Bank Ltd. at The British Council Auditorium on Feb 24 to commemorate Ekushey. Many renowned English and Bengali medium schools were invited to participate in the competition.

Fifteen contenders from different educational institutes took part to test their mettle. There were 12 topics for the participants to choose from. The speakers spoke on many topics, like the historical background of the Language Movement, Bengali language and the advancement of English language, the contribution of the Language Martyrs, the rationale of employing Bengali language in every sphere of life, the role of students in the Language Movement, and so on.

The organizers invited several eminent persons to select the best speakers. Among them were Matiur Rahman Chowdhury (Editor, Manabjamin); Faiz Ahmed, (bhasha shoinik and educationist); Dr. Farashuddin (ex-governor, Bangladesh Bank); Emrul Chowdhury (educationist); Nawajish Ali Khan (BTV producer); Maleka Begum (educationist); Shahidullah Khan Badal (DMD, The New Age) Md. Mohsin (diplomat) and Zahiduzzaman Faruk from Dainik Orthoniti. The judges gave scores in presentation, pronunciation, presenting information and timeliness.

The schools that took part in the competition were The Residential Model School, Agrani Girls High School, Bangladesh International School, Scholastica, St. Joseph and Dhanmondi Govt. Boys' High School. From the performances of the students it was apparent that the English medium students were a bit weak when it comes to speaking in Bangla but it was a good thing to incorporate them in this kind of competition so that they can also get an opportunity to improve.

The selection process could have been stricter. It was apparent that some participants went |here without any preparation as many of them broke off in mid speech but the Josephites did a good job. The performance of the boys and that of the girls were rewarded differently but it would be fairer to judge the boys and the girls on the same ground. Among girls Fahima Mahzabin from Agrani, Samira Rahman from Bangladesh Interna|ional School and Shatabdi Rahman of Scholastica stood first, second and third respectively. Among boys Najmul Hasan from Residential Model School, Neyazul Kabir and Maruf Afzal from St. Joseph stood first, second and third respectively.

By Durdana Ghias

Siddiqui's school holds annual concert

SIS held its second annual concert last Friday (25th Feb). Undoubtedly, a great way to celebrate the end of the 'horrendous' 'grueling' half-yearly exams that we all dread. The students came to the concert arena as soon as their tummies were filled with delicious food.

It didn't even take one song for the crowd to get on their feet. The band Rhythm Vibe started off with a rather slow but 'jomanofing' patriotic song called Banglalesh and as soon they started performing songs like 'Cholo na Ghure Ashi' the students were nothing short of ecstatic. Krishno, Ore Neel Doriya, Shei Tumi, Maya, Longka, It's my life are just some of the songs that were performed.

The students from play gro}p to Class Ten all just let go, dancing and singing with {ongs they liked (and even the ones they didn'|). But the icing on the cake was when one of thm students sang a duet with the professional vocalist without any practice and managed to pull it off brilliantly.

Many complain that concerts should not be held in schools climing that the students become rowdy. But it is ipparent from this school's students' behaviour that it is extremely easy to enjoy such occasions without creating any havoc. It's a pity that most other schools concentrate mainly on cultural shows and dramas, and do not give a chance for the students to unwind in their own way. Maybe Siddiqui's understands that need and so along with cultural functions they also organize such shows annually. Hopefully, next year Siddiqui's will also present some of its own talents, to make it even more fun and participatory.

By Chowdhury Rashaam Raiyan


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