the 7 types of student you’ll meet at fashion school
From The Pseudo-Theorist to The ‘Accidental’ Margiela Plagiarist, welcome to fashion school, darling.
Is a fashion degree worth the money in 2018? As a new wave of students enrol and apply to colleges, i-D and 1 Granary take a closer look at fashion education and beyond, to better understand how to make it in one of the toughest industries to crack.
Fashion school: a buzzing hive of a city’s most exciting young minds; a total fucking zoo. One of which you are now a part. Moist with blood, sweat, tears and more tears as the years to come may be, know that you’ll only emerge all the more brilliant for it. And that will, in no small part, be down to those that’ll be joining you along the way. Whether you’ve already met or not (or perhaps you’re see yourself in one of these descriptions), allow us to formally introduce you to just some of the faces you’ll soon be getting to know.
1. The Monk
“But it’s just not that deep, is it?” is your cautious response in a simmering first-day discussion of the recent Céline/Celine rebrand. The face of the greige-swathed column before you turns yet sterner. You have said something very, very wrong. “The É—THE ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ,” they hiss through teeth gritted to the point of audible creaking; the ruddy red of their cheeks is the most colour their look has seen since Rick Owens spring/summer 17. “How DARE he! Who IS he! WHERE did they find him?!?” Arms flail wildly, the practical shortcomings of their avant-garmentry revealed as their statue-like grace crumbles to that of a cat-in-a-sack. Their reaction to your well-meaning remark would have you think that you and Hedi had conspired to piss in their grandmother’s urn. But no, far worse: he axed that fucking ‘É’, swept the sacred accent beneath the rug as if it weren’t even worth its weight in dust (the hue, incidentally, of approximately 46% of your new class comrade’s wardrobe).
To The Monk, a Vestal Virgin guarding the flame of Philo, a person to whom ‘off-white’ is nothing more than a shade on the grey-scale of life, what Hedi has done is the cardinal sin. So, for your sake rather than theirs, just don’t bring it up. Because yes, to them, it really is that deép.
2. The Pseudo-Theorist
“Yeah, I’m really taken by what you’ve done with the silks, it kinda calls Beckett’s L’Innommable (in French, only ever in French) to mind, you know, where the central figure is language, speaking, questioning, obliterating itself.”
Meet The Pseudo-Theorist, your go-to for clumsily quoted tidbits of Continental thought. Spending more time in the library than in the studio, hopping between a suspiciously untouched copy of Anti-Oedipus and its Wikipedia summary, they’re as likely to namedrop Deleuze in casual conversation as The Party Boy is Charles Jeffrey (more on The Party Boy soon). But just how much do they really know? Go on, call them out, we dare you: the next time they spin-off into some drawn out monologue on their graduate collection, called Bodies Without Organs or similar, coolly ask something like: “But how can you think that holds up under his later writings?” and watch them fumble.
3. The Party Boy
A friend of The Pseudo-Theorist, bonded by a mutual love of off-key readings of Foucault, is The Party Boy. But unlike the former, finding them anywhere on campus will prove as much of a challenge as having them think you’re worth talking too. You wonder, where could they possibly be? What could they possibly be up to as you and the rest of your class slave over toile after toile, draping and pinning until either fatigue or early-onset carpal tunnel syndrome take its toll.
One night, you decide to let your hair down, to head out to whichever one of your city’s ostensibly queer parties takes your fancy. And there they are, poised to perfection amid an eccentric entourage of sirens of the night. Gingerly, you shuffle over to say hi. You are met by a shutter-speed up-down scan, a wince sharper than a Sabatier knife, and a pained, customary greeting in return. The studio may have slowly come to feel like home to you, but this is theirs, hun. But just how, then, do they get it all done? Well, when the going gets tough, and the tough gets going, the Party Boy needn’t worry: a throng of eager-to-please fans are just an Insta-story call-for-help away.
4. The Trust Fund Baby
T-minus two weeks to the show and they walk into the studio, trailed by a downtrodden team. But wait, who are those people? Do these people even go here? They’re certainly not Party Boys… Fragile as your sanity may at this point be, your sore, sleep-deprived eyes are not mistaken. Those people do not even go here -- they are the hired help of The Trust Fund Baby. “Yes, this -- I want this but with inverted seams and in a taupe gabardine,” they bark, carelessly spinning their high-spec Mac to face their motley crew of an atelier team, who snap out of their cutting and stitching, stitching and draping in apprehensive unison. One of them chirps up: “B-b-but I don’t think we’ll be able to figure out the pattern from just that photo, there ar-” “FINE,” sighs The Trust Fund Baby, huffily dropping the four-figure price-tag piece in their overpopulated shopping bag. A couple of clicks and it’s on its way — same-day delivery, naturally. “It’ll be here by six, just figure it out from there.” And as it is said, so it will be done.
5. The ‘Accidental’ Margiela Plagiarist
Meet the lovechild of The Monk’s stoic purism and the Pseudo-Theorist’s whimsical snobbery: “But how can anyone dare to speak that Vetements guy’s name in the same breath as that of our Lord and Saviour Margiela [pronunciation: mah-jé-là], it’s nothing short of a crude imitation, a bad joke. Where’s the rigour, the interrogation, the intervention?” they sneer. Never not seen in Tabi boots, they glide about the studio with all the self-righteousness of a Romantic poet, floating above the base crudeness of ‘unoriginal design’. But isn’t there something rather uncanny about the work they present in crits? Almost a sense of déjà vu, n’est-ce pas? The fit model steps forward, her face cloaked in a hosiery hood, her body, in a bricolage of blonde wigs. “For this piece, I chose to work with human hair, a reflection of the corporeal essentiality of clothes-making, a product made of the body, for the body.” Hmm… “I’d want to present this piece in the presence of children, in a playground perhaps, as the children, like the hair, inhabit the sweet perpetuity of growth.” We reached out for comment, but, notoriously press-shy as they are, our request was, of course, declined.
6. The Scientist
“It’s pretty simple really, it just comes down to making sure your ethylene feedstock’s nicely purified. Oh, and that you’ve got the right molar concentration of benzyl peroxide. And a fume cupboard. But yeah, it’s just a DIY job really lol :)” Your response? A vacant, intimidated stare, a wind-up monkey clashing cymbals in your head as you try to match their science words up to the post-Van Herpen space dress on the mannequin before you. “Yeah, I came this close to studying Engineering at Bristol, but my heart just wasn’t in it. Too much lab work!” they chuckle, pulling a welding mask down over their face and sparking a blowtorch.
No, they may not have the magnetic charisma of the inaccessible Party Boy, nor the jaded intellect of The Pseudo-Theorist — they may even be an outright nerd -- but they are religiously devoted to precision, not to mention endowed with a steady hand and an elemental knowledge of fabrics, as an unfortunate classmate of yours is soon to find out. Keep them close, reader, keep them close...
7. The Eco-Vegan
“IT. JUST. WON’T. HOLD!” Here we are again, T-minus two weeks. Shrieks and tantrums are now commonplace, dissonant chords that pierce the workroom symphony, carried along by the rickety chugging of overworked sewing machines. But this, this shriek is something else… it could almost be enough to curdle blood, were it not for the fact that the person issuing it certainly wouldn’t approve of that. Oh, poor Eco-Vegan, once so floaty, so radiant, so untainted by the animal reality of fashion school life. We all saw this coming, but it doesn’t make it any less bitter a sight. “WHY WON’T IT HOLD?” they cry, staring despairingly at The Scientist for advice. They told you it wouldn’t work, didn’t they? They told you that even if you were to hand-sew the inseam of a pair of trousers made of tempered agar jelly and kelp, the thread would slice through it like a knife through butter the moment you picked them up. But you just couldn’t take no for an answer. The Scientist, torn between their charitable heart and a head all too conscious of time’s ticking, gives a grimace of commiseration, only to turn back, pull down the mask, and spark up the blowtorch again: there’s welding to be done, after all.