My Story: Design Student

Hey gal, this is me… I’m Holly! Just a young, 18 year old, soon-to-be Parisian design student, fresh out of an all girls high school in Sydney’s North Shore. In a few months time, I will have moved to the land of croissants, the city of lights, to attend the top international design school in France, for the next 3 years.

My deal is… I’ve just left an amazing school, Wenona, where I was spoiled with amazing opportunities and absolute legends for teachers. My love for Textiles and French took me on a 3-month exchange to Brittany in Year 10 (where I also fulfilled my love for brioche and cheese). This meant Year 11 and 12 was when I took advantage of my (lack of) quiet weekends and holidays to get some experience in the industry. I volunteered at heaps of amazing fashion shows that showcased endless racks of high-end labels like C&M, By Johnny, Sass and Bide, Aje, Dion Lee … have I convinced you yet?

Holly, her model and her DESIGN!

I have just applied for (and got into)… A course at ESMOD Paris for 3 years in Fashion Design and Creation. This was one of a few Uni’s I applied to, but ESMOD was always at the top of my list. First of all, it’s in central Paris…need I say more? Secondly, in submitting my applications, a few other Universities had quite strict criteria of what they wanted to see in my portfolio. ESMOD however reassured me that I could explore my personal style rather than altering it to ‘fit the guidelines’.

I applied to this opportunity… because I think already having a bit of experience living away from home, and especially in another country, I felt more prepared to make a massive move like this. I had a whole heap more confidence to believe that this opportunity is quite realistic for me and that I would be able to do it at such a young age.

I also thought that France is pretty up there for the best countries in the world for design, and it would open up a lot of doors for getting valuable experience and work opportunities. I really miss speaking French too, and completely immersing myself in the city is probably the most effective and fun way to improve. And of course, you can’t forget, Les Garçons Francais!!

So this is how the magic happens?!

I am excited for… absolutely everything. I’ll be doing something I love every day at an amazing school, where I can meet people from different countries and cultures. I’m excited to be living in a typical Parisian terrace apartment with my Sydney friend – just 2 gals taking on one Crêperie at a time. Hopefully becoming fluent in a language I’ve loved studying, and honestly, just going back to study in general. Gap year’s the way to go, but I love to keep busy, especially with something I love doing.

I am a little scared for… a whole bunch of things. I’ve taken a lot of risks with this move – I’m renting an apartment without looking at it, I’m attending a school without even visiting it, and I know absolutely no one in this city. I have to, in many ways, become a grown up now. I have to apply for my first apartment, buy groceries and cook for myself, organise a visa so I can study there etc. etc. However, I’m fortunate enough to be extremely close to everyone in my life so I know there’ll be lots of weekly FaceTime calls to keep me from getting too homesick.

More beautiful creations. More magic.

Why I have chosen this path… It’s what I love to spend my time doing! When I’m not at work, I’m either sketching designs, making clothes for myself or my friends – and they do take advantage of my amateur alteration skills. I’m a strong believer in doing what you’re passionate about and something that will make you happy, rather than doing something because of money. Maybe that will change once I realise I won’t be able to satisfy my rather expensive taste in clothes, but for now, I know I would regret doing anything else.

Where I want it to take me… It’s really hard to say where I will be in the next 5-10 years because fashion is such a hard industry to succeed in. However a girl can only dream. My no.1 goal at the moment would be to do some awesome internships at renowned fashion labels which will hopefully open up more work experience opportunities and enable me to make connections in the industry. Hopefully through gaining this experience and these contacts I might be able to build a foundation and launch my own label one day. That’s the ultimate goal I reckon.

My advice to anyone pursuing my pathway is…. 

  1. Be confident! It’s so important to have determination and confidence in yourself because that’s what this field demands – to put yourself out there, to work hard and believe in yourself. In the end, you’re doing it for you, and people truly admire your own love and interest in your work.
  2. EXPERIENCE IS KEY: Although universities respect being academically strong in a design related subject, they are more interested in your skilI, personality and work ethic. I’ve been recently accepted to carry out an internship with Carla Zampatti – mainly due to my experience in the industry, which I’m lucky to have gained due to MIRODOOR. Honestly, stop what you’re doing right now, and sign up online – this is the place to hang if you’re interested in fashion, photography, public relations, modelling etc. There are so many opportunities for work experience, internships and paid jobs in these fields.
  3. Prepare yourself: Moving overseas is tough. Start researching and applying and booking ASAP ROCKY, instead of leaving it to the last minute!!! Emotionally prepare yourself as well. You might not have money for any luxuries for the first few months, or until you find a job. You might want to buy that piece of clothing that you know is too expensive, but prepare yourself for living off 2-minute noodles for the rest of the week. Prepare yourself that fashion design, while it may be fun and seem like a dream, is really demanding and the workload is quite heavy. You need to work really really hard to thrive in the industry.
Holly will be head fashion designer for ENID one day.

And p.s I am passionate about… researching and offering my help to those who have grown up in a completely different lifestyle than myself. I’ve done a bit of community service and volunteer work but my most memorable experience was making clothes over a couple of months to send to Sri Lankan families who didn’t have the luxury of owning more than 2 or 3 pieces of clothing. I hope one day I can incorporate something similar to this into my career.

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