Graduating ... after a fashion

In the run-up to Bhs Graduate Fashion Week, Melanie Rickey looks at the diversity of courses on offer to the dedicated follower...
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Ten years ago everyone wanted to be a pop star when they grew up, but today students looking for a glamorous career would rather aim for the catwalk than perform on Top of The Pops. At the Clothes Show Live in February, an exhibition which attracts 250,000 style-conscious punters in five days, the London College of Fashion's stand swarmed with girls (and some boys) who were interested in a fashion career. When lecturers asked "What aspect of fashion?" the reply was invariably, "Well, just fashion, or, em, design, or something." Most prospective students don't realise the scope of fashion courses available. The LCF, for example, offers 23 dedicated courses which can realistically lead to a career in the fashion business.

A week on Monday more than 1,000 people from 37 fashion colleges throughout the UK will be taking part in Bhs Graduate Fashion Week in London, and for the first time the LCF will be holding a BA (Hons) Design Technology for the Fashion Industry show on 10 June. To celebrate inclusion in the event, and to publicise their courses, the college has produced an intricate CD-Rom. Lloyds Bank, well known for its fashion sponsorship, funded the project to the tune of pounds 30,000 - the first time the bank has ventured into multimedia in this field.

The CD-Rom, designed by Frank Rickett, has a small run of 1,500, and will be sent to schools, colleges, libraries and careers advisers. So if you are interested in becoming a designer, look up BA (Hons) Design Technology for the Fashion Industry, which includes menswear, womenswear and accessory design options ; while if your interest is in PR, radio, print or television journalism, or styling, go to BA (Hons) Fashion Promotion. The CD-Rom will give you more insight into what's involved than any college tour, or a prospectus.

When I first enquired into a fashion journalism career I knew nothing of the courses on offer, and the same is true of many people in the industry. Today's A level students, however, won't have half the trouble. Simply get hold of this CD and it will show you what goes on month by month with examples of graduate and term work, soundbites from students and footage from catwalk shows.

Heather Lambert, former fashion director at Lynne Franks PR and now PR lecturer at LCF (where she studied design in the Eighties) is on a mission to educate prospective students. "I fell into PR by accident," she says, "but now potential students must be aware of exactly what they want before they come to us." When Lambert encounters indecisive students she tries to get across the wide range of jobs in the industry by deconstructing the catwalk image, (as seen right).

But be warned, the competition is fierce: for 40 places on any given course the college has an average of 600 applicants. Former LCF students have found success in positions as diverse as wardrobe assistant on Coronation Street, fashion PR account manager, and model booker.

The current crop of graduates have already got their fingers in several pies. Kate Butler, 24, took the journalism with multimedia option in the third year of her Fashion Promotion course. When she finishes next week, a holiday won't be on the agenda, "I won't have time," she says, " I've got some work at New Woman magazine lined up, and the chance of a permanent job, if I'm right for it."

It's a similar scenario for Stephen Pierce, 27, who is working two days a week at Esquire. "I always wanted to be a fashion journalist, but in Stafford, my home town, there was no such thing on offer for men." It took five years and a few dead end jobs for Stephen to find the perfect course. If you - or your children - are looking for a career in fashion, take a trip around Bhs Graduate Fashion Week. The LCF CD Rom will be there to help, and so will hundreds of fashion graduates who are now industry professionals.

Bhs Graduate Fashion Week, 9-14 June, takes place at the South Bank, London SE1. Call -171-629 2885 for information and booking

Hair stylist/make-up

BTEC National Diploma (and HND) Fashion Styling for Hair and Make-up


BTEC HND Beauty Therapy


Introduction to Fashion and Beauty Communication (includes modelling)


BA (Hons) Design Technology for the Fashion Industry

Includes menswear, womenswear and accessories design


BTEC HND Fashion Styling and Photography

Fashion Stylist

as above and BA Fashion Promotion

Fashion Journalist

BA Fashion Promotion

Fashion Buyer

BA (Hons) Fashion Management

Fashion PR

BA Fashion Promotion