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. ]

How I feel about Fashion School – 02

karl blog

MaxineTanner | September 11, 2015

I’m at the point in this semester where the public stereotype about people who work in fashion is coming to life. The amount of sass coming out of everyone’s mouths is off the charts. They may as well put their hand on their hip, and click their fingers as they swivel their head, at the end of every sentence. Don’t get me wrong we’re a pretty chill, down to earth bunch most days, but when you’ve got all this stress on your shoulders shit comes out unintentionally sassy. Or when that hippy wears fuchsia hot pants with no underwear to uni – you’re just asking for it.

I myself am guilty of throwing much unnecessary sass out there after a cocktail of sleepless nights, red bull and sewing. When it was suggested that my fellow classmates and I have a break and get the usual fix of vanilla coke to power us through the day I responded with no words, just a condescending stare and ‘pffft’. An extremely sassy exhale of air that came across as if to say ‘a vanilla coke, really? Do you need it? Do you not see the signs in the corridor that read ‘Do not feed the fashion students’? Do you not see your Kim K behind backing up into the lifts every morning? Do you not know that Karl Lagerfeld only drinks diet coke? I mean if you’re going to destroy your body at least do it with a little style for gods sakes.’

Or like that quiet girl with the really laid back Rick Owens-esque style, that only ever speaks when spoken to, out of the blue confronts you for talking in the library, asking you point blank ‘Ah, what do you think you’re doing?’, probably trying to channel her inner ice cube, after watching straight outta Compton on the weekend. But girl you cannot pull off those black MC Hammer pants.

Or that one girl who always gives you backhanded compliments like ‘Oh my god I love your jacket, it looks uh-mazing! It just would have looked so much better if you had actually fitted the lining in properly.’ And you just want to slap the sass right out of her.

Or that one guy who you ask a question and he just purses his lips like that scene in ‘The Devil wears Prada’, eyes like daggers staring you in the face as if to say ‘surely you did not just ask me that’, only ever speaks in monotone ‘uhmmmmmmmm’-s and lifts his hand while talking as if he’s about to break into Queen Bey’s single ladies.

He is handed the bouquet and sash and crowned the sass queen.

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

How I feel about Fashion School – 01

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MaxineTanner | September 04, 2015

For me, showing in Melbourne Spring Fashion Week is like Raf Simons being named creative director of Dior. Ok yes I have been watching ‘Dior and I’ on repeat lately hence the Raf reference, and I tend to do that as a form of procrastination when I have an insane amount of work to do. The weekend before the collections were due, I would stay up until the AM hours watching behind the scenes videos of the Dior and Chanel haute couture collections and then secretly die on the inside because my level of work was nothing compared to these pieces of art.

Perhaps it was a coping mechanism? I obtained a few of these over the weeks preparing for the show. My biggest one? Chocolate. There’s no question that it single handedly fuelled my procrastination. Buttons and buttonholes to stitch onto my coat? How about a mars bar to take the edge off. Toggles, eyelets and cord ends to order? Maybe after I devour this caramel koala. Two meters of boning to unpick and re-stitch in my dress side seams? I’m going to need the energy of marvellous creations and an iced chocolate before I tackle that. Hand knitting panels to be hand stitched to the dress? Nope. Maltesers. That is all.

It was an extremely long process preparing for the show, which for a procrastinator like me meant one thing. An abundance of never ending to do lists. I actually had a mural on wall solely dedicated to to-do lists. I broke everything down into such menial tasks so I could frequently get things crossed off to give me a sense of accomplishment, which in reality was such a small drop in the ocean of what I had to do, it was definitely a skewed sense of accomplishment.

Looking back at the finalised collection now I feel a sense of accomplishment, I got everything done and they weren’t the easiest of feats. Hand knitting with oversized yarn and needles that gave me arthritis and looked like a weapon out of Game of Thrones. Making a backpack from expanding foam that stuck to my hands for weeks after wards because I refused to wear gloves. Hand tacking, blind hemming then hand tacking again yarn onto mesh that was so thick it bruised my fingers when stitching.

Maybe after having created and achieved something so important, I am like Raf Simons in a way. That is if Raf Simons spends four months procrastinating and working on one four look collection, drowning his sorrows in chocolate.

But hey any life with chocolate is the good life right?

[ Credits: Words by Maxine Tanner, Photos by: Carolyn West, Broadsheet, Pnpmedia. ]

an i hate my life moment

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As you probably know from the title I’m gong to tell you about an I hate my life moment. I think I was being modest when I typed ‘moment’, because it’s more like moments.


What happened? I went to Tessuti to buy my fabric for my collection and IT WASN’T THERE!!! WAHHHHH :((((((((((((((((

It was meant to be just like the one in the photo (which is the one I had to buy) except instead of the beige-y/creamy colour, it was black.

I am so mad at myself for not going to buy it earlier. But it’s too late. It’s gone. I just didn’t think anyone would buy it all. I just needed three metres to make my menswear jacket. The problem is that the outfits I had planned and the colours i had planned will not match with these colours. I had already bought the jersey knit fabric for the tunic that’s meant to go under this jacket and it’s like a taupe colour, and was meant to have black leggings with it. Those items in those colours will look like crap with this colour for the jacket. The black would have worked perfectly.


Now I have 4 metres of black jersey that I might have no purpose for. I thought of choosing other fabrics for my collection, but it’s too late, there is no time for that. I am so worried that it’s all going to look like crap. I am so worried that I just thought maybe I should just drop out. But I can’t do that. I have already invested so much time and money in this. I have sacrificed so much to be doing what I am doing and to be where I am. The pressure is totally killing me right now. And it is all because I didn’t go and buy my fabric when I should have.


Moral of the story guys, don’t wait until the last minute to buy your fabric.

Lesson learned too late by me. Wish me luck.






raincoats range

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Imagine stress levels scaled from one to ten. One being no stress, and ten being super stressed. I think i’m at twenty-five. Haha. I’m not panicked or freaking out. I just have this running list of things I need to do going in my head. My main problem is that I am running out of time, I don’t have any days off and I basically have one thing due everyday.

At the moment I am working on a group project which is due on Tuesday. The project is to make a business plan on a hypothetical business. We need to also write a report and present our business plan to a panel. Our business is a company that sells cool raincoats, we called it Solstice Co. The image above is the range board I am making right now. When it’s done I will print it on A3 paper and put it onto foam board, which will be standing alongside some other boards and will be on display at our presentation.

One more week and then holidays.