The absolutely fabulous school of fashion: The publisher of Vogue now has its own college

Chloë Hamilton ventures into its glossy interior to meet the first intake

Can Ergen, from Turkey, leans forward as if to let me in on a secret. "Vogue magazine is a storyteller," he says. Ergen, 21, is one of 45 students who recently embarked on the first 10-week Vogue Fashion certificate course at the Condé Nast College of Fashion & Design which is based in London's Soho, just minutes away from Vogue House.

I feel scruffy as soon as I walk through the college doors. The outfit, over which I've deliberated for hours the night before and which had seemed more than adequate in my dimly lit bedroom, feels uncomfortably shabby under the bright lights of Vogue.

The entrance hall is dominated by mirrors, which create the illusion of a large, well-lit space. As I stand in the centre of the room, surrounded by reflections of my unkempt self, I realise the mirrors are also a gentle reminder to students not to turn up to school in holed jeans or a stained blouse.

Formally known as the OCN Eastern Region Level 4 Certificate in Fashion (Vogue) (QCF), the short course, which costs £6,600 plus VAT, was the brainchild of Nicholas Coleridge, president of Condé Nast International. A year-long course costing £19,560 plus VAT will begin in October 2013. The certificate covers the workings of the international fashion calendar, styling and art direction, brand marketing and the luxury and high- street retail sectors, as well as including practical sessions, visits to designers' studios and talks from figures in the industry.

Ergen is one of only three boys taking the course and describes Vogue as a "bible of fashion". He tells me he wants to learn the "Vogue way" after studying communication and visual arts at Bordeaux Academy in France and taking art and fashion classes at Parsons, School of Visual Arts and the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.

"In our everyday lives we carry art pieces on our body. Fashion is an art form and a way of communicating," he says. "I think we're really lucky to see the inside of Vogue," he adds.

As I'm ushered through the building, which looks more like an art gallery than a school, I certainly feel like I'm seeing the inside of Vogue. The library is littered with glossy magazines, coffee-table books and "look books" and is a far cry from most university archives with their stacks of crusty tomes.

The main lecture hall, where the great and the good from the fashion industry gathered for the school's opening, is softly lit, with interactive screens adorning its flawless white walls. Mirror-panelled doors remind me once again of my below-par appearance. As I'm introduced to the students I brace myself for a gaggle of malnourished beauties in Burberry macs and Chanel sweaters. "I thought it was going to be like The Devil Wears Prada. Absolutely terrifying," says 24-year-old Camille Lappierre, from Nîmes. "I was surprised by how friendly everyone was. I know it sounds like a cliché, but it's true."

I'm forced to eat humble pie when I discover the students are every bit as earnest and hopeful as I was when I started my philosophy degree. Aged between 18 and 32, there's a real sense of camaraderie among them.

Although more than half the students hail from Britain and Europe, some have travelled from as far as the United States, Mexico, South America, the Middle East, the Far East, Turkey, Eastern Europe and Australia to take the course. International fashion is represented by 23 different countries, none of which charges higher fees.

One of the youngest here is Alice Carver, 19, from London. Alice is fresh out of sixth form. She de cided to take the 10-week course during her gap year while she decides what career path she wants to follow.

"UK university is £9,000 a year. I didn't want to go to university for three years and study a subject that I didn't end up going into," she says.

"It's good being around people who like the same thing. Everyone wants to be here, no one is being made to study. There's no rivalry. Everyone is supportive of what everyone else is doing and what experience everyone else has had."

Naturally, the students look like they've just stepped off the catwalk, rather than off the No 38 bus. "The night before, I had to throw all my clothes out on to my bed and find the right outfit to wear," says 18-year-old Julia Wood, from Cape Town. "Everyone has a different style and fashion, but I still feel like I can't wear my jumper with holes in."

The Condé Nast college team is made up of principal Susie Forbes, a former deputy editor of Vogue, vice- principal Dr Gary Pritchard, who held the post of associate dean, art, media and design, at the University of Wales, and course director Angela Jones, an educational consultant at London College of Fashion and the Domus Academy in Milan.

The syllabus is broadly divided into three areas: fashion design, fashion publishing and fashion business.

According to Forbes, the school is small enough that, although they can't tailor the course for each student, they can afford to be light on their feet.

Budding Alexandra Shulmans complete three projects over the 10 weeks and, as long as they cover the learning initiatives, they can choose how the work is presented. "We find our strengths and develop them. It encourages us to be more confident in ourselves," says Carver.

The college – which loans an iPad to each student for the duration of the course – also initiates Twitter debates for the students every Monday morning (Week 1: Should celebrities become fashion designers?) as a way of incorporating social media into the students' learning.

The college's prospectus promises "unrivalled industry links and partnerships, and unique access to fashion insiders".

"Only at Condé Nast would you be able to get all these connections and all these opportunities to see what is going on in the fashion industry," says 22-year-old Deanne Banares, from the Philippines, who sees the course as a route into fashion journalism.

"I like how you can put together something intellectual and creative," she says.

Forbes assures me her students won't be treated differently when they apply for jobs or internships with Condé Nast publications. "They can apply in the same way as everybody else, but they won't get special dispensation," she says. "It's really important not to make a promise to someone about an internship or a job because people start buying the course for the internship and using us as a stepping stone."

Instead, she believes the certificate highlights for students the multitude of jobs that exist in the fashion industry. "As a first step into that world, it's a complete eye-opener for the students," she says.

At the end of the tour I'm spat out of Condé Nast's dazzling entrance and on to the bright, dusty streets of Soho, my scruffy attire instantly at home once again.

Impressed as I am with the students' passion and Forbes's dedication, a feeling in my gut tells me applicants will be tempted only by the legendary brand, and, at £6,600 a pop, this brand is staggeringly expensive. Still, rubbing shoulders with fashion aristocracy was never going to come cheap, was it?

Cynicism aside, the course offers an exciting approach to assessment and lecturers who are uniquely positioned to help students get their feet in the door of an industry that is notoriously exclusive.

As Forbes rightly points out, they are whizzing through the revolving door of Vogue House as we speak.

Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
News
news
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
tvChristmas special reviewed
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

    £40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

    £40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

    Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

    £70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

    Day In a Page

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all