x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Acclaimed fashion college returns to UAE for workshops

Rebecca McLaughlin-Duane speaks to two key players at the London College of Fashion about their UAE short courses.

Richard Sorger of the London College of Fashion Short Courses in the Middle East. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Richard Sorger of the London College of Fashion Short Courses in the Middle East. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

The prestigious London College of Fashion has returned to the UAE for the fifth time to hold a series of short courses for those keen to enter the competitive and creative industry.

Richard Sorger, designer and lecturer

Welcome back to Dubai, Richard. What are the key takeaway messages from the Fashion 1 course you are teaching?

What we intend to do is to show students the design process from beginning to end; from the research, through to the initial design and development of ideas to a cohesive collection. I think maybe the most eye-opening part of the course is when we talk about research, which happens right at the beginning. The fact is that most London-based fashion designers aren't necessarily looking at other clothes for inspiration. They are looking to other themes, ideas and visuals that are not clothing references. So I think that's a moment in the course where people think: "Oh I hadn't realised that!" and it opens their eyes to anything being used as the inspiration for designs.

How many people are there on your course and what's the demographic of the group?

This year there are about 17 people and the group is all female. Generally, I would say 80 per cent are from the region and the other 20 per cent are a mix of people from India, Europe and expatriates from the UAE. Some are already working within some capacity in the industry - with their own boutiques and lines.

How creative would you say the UAE's fashion scene is and what's the talent pool like?

It's the same as I see in London and Buenos Aires - good! And I see a very particular approach in Dubai, where the groups tend to be a little more switched on about fashion and brands. They have a heightened sense of what they like in terms of clothing.

What's the biggest misconception about the fashion industry?

That we just sit around designing frocks all day - that it's all very lovely and there's no real hard work involved. In fact, the absolute opposite is true and there's a very well-thought-out foundation to any serious design work with so much preparatory work and it's a very competitive industry.

Linda Roberts, senior business manager, London College of Fashion

Linda, what have been the most popular 2012 LCF courses and why in your opinion?

The ones focused on the design and styling aspects, but the more commercially focused courses are also very popular as people are looking at how to start up their own fashion labels and run and market them effectively on both a local and international platform.

Are there any plans afoot to set up a permanent college here?

At the moment we're just offering a programme of short courses in Dubai. If we find that at a later stage there's demand for foundation, undergraduate and graduate courses, we might then consider that as an option after much research and consultation. But at this stage, there is no plan to set up a campus.

What do you make of the UAE's burgeoning fashion scene?

The fashion industry in the region is a vibrant, thriving sector of the economy. It is great to see not only the big brands giving appropriate importance to this key market and catering to it, but to see the local, home-grown talent emerging from here and really making an impact. Zayan Ghandour, Zeina and Ahmed Abou Chaaban, Hind and Reem Beljafla, and Rami Al Ali and Ellie Saab have become big names on the international fashion scene and there are bound to be more that follow given the proper training and nurturing.

London College of Fashion and Chelsea College of Art and Design courses will run until Thursday at the Pullman Hotel, Dubai. For more information, go to www.fashion.arts.ac.uk/shortcourses/middle-east and www.chelsea.arts.ac.uk/shortcourses/middle-east

rduane@thenational.ae