I’ve always loved fashion. Bit of a cliché way to start this blog post, but it’s true. At least – as a hobby. Coming from the background I come from, it was something that I never really thought I could do as a career. Everyone from my school wanted to be doctors or lawyers, everyone from my undergraduate wanted to be a banker. I always wondered what fashion school is like. But fashion was just something you were interested in on the sidelines in this world. So instead I chose to study my favourite subject at school – history – in what those around me called an ‘academic’ degree. I went to a really academic institution, the London School of Economics. And absolutely hated it.
The reason I disliked it was because I felt like there was only really one type of person there. Being different wasn’t really that accepted, in a place where most people (at least, most people I ever met) spent all day, every day in the same spot in the library. They got trashed every night in the same three clubs. It was a stuffy atmosphere where the establishment wanted you to do things a certain way and if you tried to do something a little different, you were wrong. I felt my creativity was stifled rather than allowed to flourish.
It was during the summer after a miserable second year that, on a bit of a whim, I decided to intern at a fashion magazine. As it always goes with these things, I was just lucky enough to know someone who worked in the same building. They just happened to know the fashion assistant at Fabulous. When my internship began (I talk all about what it’s like interning in fashion in this post), I adored it. It’s a crazy, glamorous world, and I got sucked right in. At this point I actually realised I could do fashion for a living – not for a lot of money, mind – but because I really loved it.
I felt like I needed some more experience in this field before I got a job, so I decided to apply for this masters. I’ve loved writing since I was young but I always write short pieces, so I knew I’d never be dedicated enough to be a novelist. And I love snappy, fast-paced environments, so journalism seemed like the perfect industry for me. So it felt like a natural move for me to combine two of my passions and transition into fashion journalism.
I applied to the MA Fashion Journalism course at Central Saint Martins. Not to toot my own horn, but it’s (arguably) the best fashion school in the world. Most of the world’s top designers have gone here, including my personal favourite Alexander McQueen – so I knew it would be extremely competitive. I had a pretty tough interview, where my now tutor put me through my paces and asked me deliberately difficult questions. ‘How did you convince your parents to let you come here?’ ‘Do you really think you’ll fit in at CSM?’ My whole life I’ve been used to praise but he was immediately critical, of my writing, my blog, everything. To be honest, I was pretty amazed when at the end of the interview he turned to me and said he’d see me next January.
So, here I am, two months into the course. And what you think it’d be like is not what fashion school is like at all. Every day I feel genuinely lucky to be going to school amongst the most creative people in the world. You might think fashion would be bitchy (as I did), but almost everyone I’ve met so far has been genuinely kind and just trying to make their own way in the world. We all look out for each other, and watch each other’s backs.
Honestly, Saint Martins is a crazy place. It’s normal to see people dressed up in tiny metallic mini dresses doing impromptu shoots when it’s snowing, it’s normal to hear someone mouthing off having creative differences with their friends in the library, it’s normal to come in and see a range of different characters every day. But what I like most about it is that all of these differences, all of the things people normally deem ‘strange’ – they’re not just accepted, but encouraged.
The school wants you to think more about your ideas, to be as unique as possible, because that’s how you succeed in the creative industries. You can write a great essay or article but if 100 other people have said the same thing before, what’s the point? CSM encourages you to find your own voice and use it. It’s certainly made me push myself and discover so many new things. I’ve started reading magazines I’d never even heard of before. I start conversations with strangers about #MeToo in the library. I come to uni in outfits which I’d never have worn two years ago. It’s a great place to grow not only personally, but professionally. And the fact that everyone is so different to each other is what makes it such a great place to be.
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Photos are by my favourite Kelsey xxx