Designer Kat Parkinson, from Bristol, graduated with first-class Honours from the BA (Hons) Fashion Design. Her graduate collection won the Menswear Collection of the Year. You can see her work on www.katparkinson.com.
This is a great fashion design course. You do a placement year and there is a strong emphasis on learning technical skills in sewing and pattern cutting in the first year. Plus, you get a lot of time with your lecturer which is great - few Universities provide this.
Being a Fashion Design course and not Fashion and Textiles, it is very focused on garment construction. This is great if you want to learn about how to make garments and don’t have much experience. Coming from a fine art background, this was exactly what I was after.
The course has good facilities for sewing and has great lectures on construction. The highlight for me would be the tailoring module in second year where we learned how to construct a men’s tailored jacket, using Saville Row methods.
In the first year, we had a whole project dedicated to precision with construction and pattern cutting, which definitely helped me on my placements. Getting thrown in at the deep end is more enjoyable when you know what they’re asking you to do!
Another thing that was great was the digital help we received. It made us more comprehensive in our skills set.
Our final year was all geared towards making a graduate collection. It's probably the most proud I have ever been of my work. The fact that you can be so individual and in a sense 'get on with it' is great! It means you don’t have to fulfil a brief you aren’t interested in.
My graduate collection was made up of six full outfits. I focused a lot on the silhouette of the garments, little details and the textile. One of the highlights of my collection was the hand-oxidised copper coat. I was kindly sponsored for some pure copper mesh which I hand torched and then oxidized. This was then sewn on top of a cotton drill base and constructed into a tailored-style raw-edge coat.
As part of our sandwich year diploma, we had to take part in six months' industry related work. I moved near London and completed two different three-month placements. The first one was with couture womenswear designer Corrie Nielsen and the second one was with Jonathan Saunders. It was really good! I did all the digital garment specs and helped with male model castings too. My placements had a massive impact on the quality of my work, boosting my confidence and pushing my work stamina. Working twelve hours a day for free really makes you realise how much you want something!
In my final year I, along with a few other students, organised our graduate fashion show. We did it at a new event space in a warehouse called the Depot in Cardiff. It was a great success and a lot of people have said it was the best one the University has put on yet! The last four years has changed me massively. Firstly, I have learnt how to look after myself without my mum worrying about me! Secondly, I have realised how far working hard and being lovely gets you. Finally, I have made amazing friends, who I will treasure for life.