Mid Cheshire's fashion students (with audio)
Fashion students at Mid-Cheshire College have been setting trends for years. We went to find out how they do it. Narration by Sandbach and District Talking Newspaper
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Cheshire-born designer William Tempest may now have stars like Emma Watson and Madonna on his books but it was during his days as a fashion student at Mid-Cheshire College that he first hit his stride.
The 24-year-old spent his early career discovering different materials, drawing up reams of new designs and finding his own style. He is not the only student to go onto success.
The fashion courses at the London Road campus, in a beautiful building with ornate stained glass, have sparked the creativity of many students. Former students have dominated the line-up of finalists and winners at Chester Fashion Week and numerous graduates have gone on to the London College of Fashion and St Martin’s. Others like Hannah Kinsey - the college’s artist in residence and featured in a previous issue of Cheshire Life - have launched their own labels.
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Nicky Kettlewell, fashion team leader, said: ‘There is nothing run-of-the-mill about our students. We encourage them to be more experimental but also to play to their strengths.
‘Some of our past students have become illustrators or have set up careers in interior design. We have had winners three years running at Chester Fashion Week and of course people like William Tempest and Hannah Kinsey are a great inspiration for our students. They put 110 per cent into everything they did. We have high hopes for all of our students and I would like to think we are creating stars of the future.’
Students benefit from the expertise of a handful of lecturers, each with their own experience in the industry from manufacturing, design and production. One worked in the costume department of the Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks. Pupils from 16 upwards can enrol but spaces are not limited to this age group.
For 44-year-old Jackie Speed, who is on the national diploma course, it was a chance to realise a dream. The former publican ran the Northgate Arms in Chester before working in interior design. But a shot at the fashion industry became too much to resist.
She said: ‘I realised that if I didn’t step up and do something about my dream then it would pass me by. My then husband was away in the army and it just brought everything home. It made me think I needed to get up and grab my dream. It was the creativity that I always loved about fashion. It’s an art in itself. I love the colour and the design processes.
Just because I’m not really young doesn’t mean I can’t have a go at this. Look at Vivienne Westwood! She is fabulous and has brought so much to the fashion world.’
In all the classrooms are students eager to learn and become a success. Alex Conway, aged 17, from Frodsham, has been designing clothes and trinkets since she was very young.
She said: ‘I’ve always made lots of things. One day my sister said that my work was actually very good, so I thought I would try and make a career out of something that I love doing.’
Every year the pupils organise their own fashion show. Alex said: ‘I made a coat for the last show and it was really exciting to see my design on a catwalk.’
Another pupil has travelled a long way in pursuit of his dream. Hong Kong-born Cyrus Wong, aged 23, is inspired by the contemporary designer Hussein Chalayan. He hopes to have his own label one day.He said: ‘My work is about the influence of technology on fashion and I really hope to go to London College of Fashion or St Martins to help me get into the industry. I use origami as an influence on my designs too.’
He is one of only a handful of male students on the course: ‘I don’t see what the difference is between men and women designing. I don’t think it’s important. It’s about being a good designer.’
Team leader Nicky, who used to work for a manufacturing firm in Weaverham, now wants to encourage more men onto the course.She said: ‘It would be great to have more men. There are many women interested in fashion but the industry of high fashion is dominated by men. It is a fascinating industry to work in and we’re just delighted that we’re helping people, male or female, to achieve their dreams.’