Womenswear designer

Poppy Dover, 23, is a womenswear designer with Max & Co, a division of Max Mara. She graduated with a degree in fashion design from Kingston University in 2008
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The Independent Online

Why I chose my job

I’ve always been interested in clothes. At the age of seven I was reading Vogue and ripping out images that I liked. For me, clothes are a highly visual form of expression that everyone engages in. Fashion is all about experimenting with colours and textures and finding different ways of highlighting parts of the body.

How I got my job

I was lucky enough to be headhunted by Max Mara in my final year at university (Kingston has a lot of connections in the fashion world). I attended four interviews – two at college and two at Max Mara’s headquarters in Italy – and presented some 2D drawings to them as part of a project. Based on this, I was offered the job and have been working in Italy ever since.

What my job involves

I design for the activewear division and, believe it or not, I am currently working on the winter 2010 collection! It’s totally mad in the fashion world: you have to think so far ahead and rely on instinct about what will be big in a couple of years’ time. We distribute to more than 40 countries, so the designs must appeal worldwide, and not just in London or Paris, for example. Last week I attended a fabric and accessories fair in Milan and chose some samples to add tomy inspiration board.

Now I am working on things such as flat drawings and stitch lines to create designs, which will then be turned into working samples by our technicians. I try to take a staple item of clothing, such as a trench coat, and give it a twist. I particularly like mixing genres and adding a masculine touch to feminine fashions.

Highs and lows

I love the design process and the feeling I get when I know that something I have created will work. It’s also amazing to see my work walking down a catwalk and being appreciated by other people and designers. The downside is the frenetic pace – I am a perfectionist so I always like to spend longer and longer on my creations, but I’ve got to meet deadlines!

My advice

It can be tough starting out but the journey to get here teaches you a lot about yourself. Work experience is very important so use your holidays wisely. I am sure that the 10- week work experience I did with Gap in the summer vacation before my final year helped me to get seen.