Fashion Designer inspires young creative on home visit

A final year fashion student from a specialist art and design college in the north east, looking to pursuing a career in the fashion industry after graduation, is now even more determined to succeed after being inspired by a visit from a leading young designer.

Hannah Johnston, 21 from Acklam in Middlesbrough is studying for a BA (Hons) Fashion at Cleveland College of Art and Design (CCAD)’s university-level campus in Hartlepool, and was one of a group of students to experience life in the real world of design and retail from former CCAD student and fashion designer, Claire Barrow.

The designer from Yarm, who studied Fashion and Clothing at the college in 2008, is currently making waves in high end ready-to-wear and returned to her former college to inspire the next generation of Vivienne Westwoods and Stella McCartneys, with a candid presentation and discussions. After successful commissions for Vogue, Joseph and iD Magazine, amongst others, Claire now designs her own collections for sale at outlets around the world, and has presented as part of London Fashion Week.

The 26-year-old designer spoke at length to a group of first, second and third year fashion students, including Hannah, about working in the fashion industry, running her own business and her top tips for carving out a career in couture.

As well as benefitting from Claire’s experiences as a young and current designer in a highly competitive industry, Hannah was also able to receive some one-on-one advice from Claire while showing her work from her final major project.

As part of her degree coursework, Hannah has produced a collection for her final major project based on ‘tradition and modernisation working together in harmony’. Influenced from a visit to a traditional and a modernised leather tannery, the garments are made up of natural and manmade fibres, with a chemical against natural colour pallete.

Hannah said: “I really enjoyed listening to Claire’s presentation, in which she took us through her design collections and career, getting to see her creative clothing and understanding her design process.

“I showed the designs for my final coursework to Claire and as I explained the concept behind my collection, she helped to me think outside the box about how I could use my concept to create innovative garments.”

Hannah will be showing her final major project as part of the 2016 Vision Graduate Show at the specialist art college, which starts on Friday 3rd June from 10am at the campus on Church Square, and also will be part of a team representing the college at this year Graduate Fashion Week in London’s trendy East End Truman Brewery from 5th – 8th June.

She added: “The build up to the show has been very intense, working constantly every day from getting up to going to sleep at night. It has been very hard work but I wanted to push myself to achieve the best possible outcome. I can’t wait for the show night for all my family and friends to come see what I have been working so hard on for the past few months.”

After graduation Hannah plans to move to London to develop a career as a fashion buyer, and hopes to work for a high end department store.

Claire Barrow enjoyed her visit with students, including meeting her former lecturer, Vicky Wake, and was delighted to be able to give the young designers the benefit of her experience. Claire said: “During my time at CCAD I grew a lot in confidence, as I thought that I wouldn’t be able to make it in fashion. Vicky and her team motivated me to push further and helped me to develop and grow, which enabled me to progress to achieve a degree in fashion and now my own collections.

“It is great to be able to give something back to the college which helped me on my way, and meet students like Hannah, who are just starting out, as I know how hard it can be.”

Vicky Wake, Programme Leader for the BA (Hons) Fashion degree, said: “It is always satisfying to see our alumni making it in the hugely competitive world of fashion. Claire has developed a unique and sort after brand through sheer hard work and determination, the key desirable qualities essential to succeed. I know the students have been inspired by her journey, especially Hannah who has been a committed student throughout her three years with us.”

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