Confessions of a Fashion Student

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Rachelle Dobson | November, 17 2015

I confess that we stress, and not just a little bit… A LOT-

It’s what we do and it’s completely unavoidable, any fashion student who claims they did their entire degree stress free is lying… simple! While I appear calm and collected outside Uni, in my mind is a frantic scene of post it notes, to do lists and a clock that is ticking down the days until my impending doom (the end of semester hand ins). The stress never really lets up, even after that last day of being fed to the lions den to have your every mistake critiqued and analysed by professionals, there is no relief.

I confess that into every collection goes blood, sweat and tears… literally-

The final product does not even begin to communicate just how much we’ve slaved over it. Believe me, ‘a day before’ film of a fashion student’s collection would not be nearly as glamorous or exciting, in fact it would be something that can never be unseen. It would show said student at 3am crying as we sew on the last bead with blistered fingers, while listening to Adele and wondering how we will find the will to go on. If you look closely enough somewhere in that collection there will be a blood stain, because lets face it, when pulling all nighters and operating heavy machinery, injuries are bound to happen. It’s not a question of if I hurt myself, it’s a question of how badly!

I confess that my lounge room turns into a sweatshop at the end of every semester-

There’s no other way to describe it, there’s fabric and threads thrown everywhere, cords running in every direction and machines that sound like old school torture devices roaring to life at all hours of the day and night. There is zero consideration of OH&S and work-safe would surely deem it a fire hazard. Employees work long hours without breaks and wait for it…..they are unpaid! The only employee: Me! Sometimes with the caring supervision of my dog who lays calmly on a pile of fabric praying he doesn’t step on a pin and watches the panic unfold.

I confess that when we refer to something as a design feature, it’s a fancy way of saying, that was a mistake-

It’s a perfect cover up that if done correctly never fails. Its important to own it and make the most of it, confidence is key. So what if you were up all night sewing that jacket only to realise that the sleeve is sewn in backwards? Its innovative and I think it’s the way of the future and I planned it all along, whose going to argue with that…. Right? My point exactly. It’s a design feature!

I confess chocolate is my saviour-

Every fashion student has something they turn to in times of stress, for some its green smoothies, kale and oats but for me its chocolate or ice cream or even better…ice-cream covered in chocolate. As far as I’m concerned the further the semester progresses, the more acceptable it becomes to devour a magnum at 10am. Its not too early if you never slept. Those who develop a healthy addiction don’t understand how fortunate they are, for me it means a few late night trips to the gym to try and avoid gaining 20 kilos every semester. Luckily though, I’m not the only one to who is a slave to my cravings for chocolate and together we provide support for one another (in chocolate form of course!).  It is because of this bond we share that no one bats an eye when we find a chocolate stain on a cashmere jacket that was set to show in MSFW…. Instead with a certain confidence, we’d comfort her in unison “it’s a design feature!”

[ Credits: Words by Rachelle Dobson, Illustration by me. ]

How I feel about Fashion School – 07


Maxine Tanner | October ,24 2015

When the end is nigh

And all you want to do is cry

Or crawl up into a ball and die.

But you have to finish the year

So you can have a celebratory beer

Instead of living the rest of your life in fear

Of failing and having to repeat the last year.

You could mimic Raf Simons, and quit while you’re ahead

Or you could work to the bone and sleep when you’re dead.

Your motto for the past three years has been P’s equal degrees

Yet you can’t get a pass by begging or simply pleading please.

Staying awake for over 24 hours at a time will become a ritual

Printers running out of ink and files becoming corrupt will be perpetual.

Still you’ll have to meet the set due date

Or the fact that you wind up working at McDonalds won’t be merely fate

Your lecturers tell you of all the possible jobs to apply for

From working for Dior to opening your own label and retail store

But once you finish this semester all you’ll want to do is stay home and sleep

And when lecturers ask what has come of you, no one will have heard a peep.

Who knows what the future will hold

You might move to sovereign hill and make a living panning for gold.

You might journey to a foreign land

And relax on the beach with your feet beneath the sand.

You might actually get a job at a high end label in fashion

Just as intended, and your job would become your life’s passion.

Then again you might be satisfied with your job at McDonalds

Where you journey up the corporate ladder and eat your way past the models.

After all these life decisions are prudent

But, let’s face it, thats the life of a fashion student.

[ Credits: Words by Maxine Tanner, Illustration by me. ]

How I feel about Fashion School – 06


Maxine Tanner | October ,09 2015

I honestly don’t know how students manage to balance uni, work and a social life. If I had to describe a typical week, in my life it would be this:

Go to work, work, finish work. Told you’re working tomorrow, complain, cry, leave work. Go home, veg out, try to study, accidentally fall asleep.

Sleep past your alarm. Go to work, work, eat, write a mental to do list, finish work. Home, veg out, write to do lists, procrastinate, Facebook, Instagram, snap chat, write a report.

Sleep, sleep in, regret sleeping in. Shower, report writing, emails, eat, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, report writing. Sleep.

Shower, eat, uni, hand in report, eat, fabric shopping, go home, procrastinate, sewing. Sleep.

Shower, eat, uni, emails, go home, nap, socialise, go home, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, patterning, sewing. Sleep.

Shower, socialise, eat, to do list uni, emails, go home, sewing, report writing, procrastinate, report writing. Sleep.

Shower, eat, uni, eat, patterning, sewing, procrastinate, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, socialise, go home, report writing. Sleep.

Shower, socialise, uni, eat, report writing, nap, hand in report, to do list, go home, procrastinate, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat.

And on that note, I see sleep approaching.

[ Credits: Words by Maxine Tanner, Illustration by me. ]

How I feel about Fashion School – 05


Maxine Tanner | October ,02 2015

As fashion students, we work best with our hands. So you can imagine the constant struggle we face whenever we have to do an ounce of theory work. As I write this I am procrastinating writing two reports due next week. It is natural for our hands to control our work, from feeding a silk organza through the machine, draping bias cut cloth over a form, hand sewing the finest threads through the finest weaves to hand pressing layers upon layers of accordion pleats into netting. Yet of course each semester includes theoretical assessments that are worth a large percentage of the overall mark. Yes I can whip up a five piece collection in a matter of two weeks to the best of my ability, but ask me to sit down at a desk for hours on end to write an investigative report on the working conditions of the Cambodian garment industry and I won’t rise to that challenge.

At a certain point in any type of study it becomes customary for students to pull all nighters before a hand in, but for fashion students it becomes a ritual. There are two types of all nighters. Those where you plan to stay up all night, have an assortment of ciders, Redbull and V at the ready and continually count down the hours until you have to shower and head back into uni (aka your home away from home) where you were less than 9 hours ago. Then there are those where you have a mountain of work to do that you unintentionally stay up all night completing it. In your glassy eyed haze you look up at the clock and all of a sudden its 4AM. In your naivety and lack of time management you decide to treat yourself to a quick nap so you can actually function the next morning. Having nightmares of all the work you still have to finish, you wake up two hours later, so disoriented that you don’t know where you are or what year it is.

The fall out of pulling all nighters only add more stress. In your futile efforts of getting dressed in the morning, you’ll end up layering clean clothes over your pyjamas and not in an attempt to be fashion forward. When you actually arrive at uni your face clearly tells the story of the sleepless past 24 hours and everyone is quick to comment. Your lecturers warn you about operating machinery without sleep but you keep sewing anyway because those pants aren’t going to finish themselves, and you keep the fact that you cut yourself with scissors twice last night, a secret. It gets harder and harder to stay awake for a full day at uni after pulling an all nighter, at which point, napping becomes your saviour. Since you’re not as high tech as other universities that house on campus sleeping pods for students you’ll resort to napping wherever you can and yes that includes during lectures, under tables and curling up into a ball on the floor, rotating shifts with your classmates because you’ve still got that mountain of work to finish.

[ Credits: Words by Maxine Tanner, Illustration by me. ]

We would all love to pull a Linda Envagelista and not get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day, but when you don’t actually go to bed and you don’t get paid to study, you actually pay to go to uni, it is sadly not really an option.

How I feel about Fashion School – 04


Maxine Tanner | September 25, 2015

Here’s how Fashion Week would have gone down if I were there.

My suitcase would look like a Jackson Pollock. A flourish of colours and prints in hundreds of different styles. From boyfriend shirts to turtle necks, moto jackets, cigarette pants, denim culottes, knitted grandma sweaters, studded Jeffrey Campbell platforms, floral printed overalls, colour blocked bodysuits, and faux fur stoles. I would wear anything that had the remote possibility of getting photographed as part of Fashion Week street style.

Whilst pulling my best blue steel out the front of the Topshop Unique show, I would have to compete for the limelight with the parade of internationally renowned bloggers that just rolled in, in one of those oversized black SUVs that the entire cast of the OC drove. In one of my skilful attempts to be in the spotlight I would call out to them as if we were friends, but of course they have no clue who I am and let’s face it I only know them from social media, turning into one of those awkward moments where you call someone by their Instagram name in public. ‘Songofstyle hey girl! How you doing?’ ‘Theblondesalad! You look so fierce in that Chanel fanny pack.’ ‘Whoworewhat! I adore your shoes. Are they Prada?’

Still facing the fact that I am a fashion student on a budget I couldn’t afford any fancy transportation to the multitude of shows that I would of course be invited to. Therefore the only plausible form of transport would be by foot. And no I don’t mean walking. I would never make it to all the shows on time and I wouldn’t pull a Kimye and hold off the show until I arrive, even though I know they would be willing to. I mean rollerblading. Rollerblades are fast, flash and fashion forward. Trust me, Kanye’s next shoe to be released will be the Yeezy Blades 350.

In this modern day and age I would be one of many audience members religiously snap chatting every stride on the runway. Sitting back in the second row I would have to push aside Grace Coddington’s frizz to get clear vision of the Tommy Hilfiger boardwalk styled runway for an A grade snap chat as Grace, stuck in the golden years takes her time sketching each look. At least her mane of red hair would shield me from the splashes of sister act Gigi and Bella Hadid frolicking through the staged beach for the finale.

Cast under a spell of timeless elegance at the Burberry show, I would nudge Anna Wintour out of the way just to get a shot of those sports luxe sandals, adorned with the gold chains – no, literally gold chains, I’m not referring to Kylie Jenner’s boyfriend Tyga. After giving the entire audience a new obsession, I would then ask Cara (yes, we’re on a first name basis) to hold up her personally monogrammed Burberry backpack for a photo, because well, those eyebrows wouldn’t fit on my phone screen anyway.

Embarrassingly enough, I would also have had to apologise to Candice Swanepoel for my letting my Superstar Adidas shoelace go astray on the runway, as I walked across to take my front row seat, leading to her topple at Givenchy. I would have then turned to my left and told Pharrel that he needs to re evaluate his quality control procedures because his laces are to blame for a Victoria’s Secret angel falling from the heavens that night.

[ Credits: Words by Maxine Tanner, Illustration by me. ]

How I feel about Fashion School – 03

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MaxineTanner | September 18, 2015

A how to guide on budgeting for fashion school:

Step 1. Create a budget

Step 2. Throw your budget out the window

It’s time to face the reality upfront, being a fashion student is expensive and at the end of the semester your ass is going to be broke.

Your main expense? Fabrics. Yes you’ll start the semester with a budget intact and the intention to spend it wisely yet, you’ll find yourself wandering back into the most expensive fabric store on the block, where you make a spur of the moment decision to make your entire collection out of leather. Not to mention you have to bear the attitude of the uptight saleswomen who look down on you because frankly you’re not Alber Elbaz, you act like Kanye West and they can tell your net income simply by what you’re wearing.

The most desirable expense? Clothes. The irony in the fact that you’re a fashion student who can’t afford to buy themselves new clothes each season is as depressing as Donatella Versace’s face. It doesn’t help that your classmates are sporting the latest Givenchy tees and Tom Ford coats around campus and you’re slumming it in seasons old ‘Tarjay’, that you picked up from the dollar bin at Savers in a desperate for clothes I can actually afford, rather than a fashion forward kind of way.

The most ridiculous expense? Printing. No student should have to pay one Australian god damn dollar for a single A4 colour page unless it’s being printed in the September issue of Vogue.

The most depressing expense? Food. You’ll be paying a five dollar minimum for a less than average lunch from the local supermarket everyday, because lets face it you can’t afford the daily fix of pho, unlike those trendy inner city students. Instead you’ll be scraping together every loose dollar you have for that sale packet of mi goreng noodles. Or in those rare efforts of trying to be healthy you’ll sustain yourself with a measly mandarin for lunch, only to realise that you can’t even afford that, one single piece of fruit – god’s citrus gift to this earth, but the cashier, feeling sorry for you, let’s you have it anyway.

Then and only then, after months of avoiding checking your bank balance, to then realise that it can infact recede into negative dollars, you truly know you’re a fashion student.

[ Credits: Words by Maxine Tanner, Illustration/Collage by me. ]