How to produce a fashion school worthy portfolio

There are many misconceptions held in regards to how to be accepted into a fashion course at a university level. I myself was under the belief that because I had not taken any folio electives at high school that I would no longer be able to be accepted into my dream course of fashion design at university. Well I stand here on the other side of these misconceptions, to tell you that yes, you really can get into fashion design even if you have not taken any subjects in high school that will enable you to create a folio.

If I could wind back time then my recommendations for anyone considering to study a design-based subject at university would definitely be to make sure you do take the necessary prerequisite subjects. However, if you find that you haven’t taken the right subjects and you have changed your mind – there is still time. If you do decide to create a folio on your own terms, then this is not necessarily a bad thing at all. This will distinguish your folio as it will be very different to all of the other folios that are handed in at the submission date. As long as you understand the basic necessities for folio development, then you will be noticed by assessors for your original style and choice to showcase a variety of your own works. You may be required or allowed to incorporate a short segment of text at the beginning of your folio, outlining the work you have chosen to include. Make sure that you make a point of stating in your folio description that you have done all of the work included on your own terms. This will stand out to your assessor, and may get you across the line into the course that you want to be accepted into.

It is possible to create a folio that will get you accepted into a good university fashion design course, as long as you have a couple of months to do so, and can squeeze in as much work as you can in this amount of time. I sure wouldn’t recommend this method as there is no guarantee that you will get accepted, however if fashion design is your dream like it is mine, then your mindset will probably get you over the line.

My first piece of advice for you if you have made the decision that you are going to undertake the same path that I did and create a folio externally from high school, would be to set your own “assignment briefs”, and include these in your folio. I did take a folio development short course to assist me in creating my folio run through the university that I wanted to get into. This course ran for four weeks and I went to the class each weekend and they taught me the basic structure of what was required. However this is also not compulsory, and this really can be achieved by yourself as long as you have a basic understanding of folio requirements.

In creating your own “assignment briefs”, what you want to look for is creating a goal for your work, which in turn will add structure to your folio, and you will see more of a point to what you are doing, and so will your folio assessor. In doing this I recommend choosing a starting point, for example a film you find aesthetically inspiring, or a second hand garment that has interesting design lines, and using this as a platform to create a small individual collection of garments.

My next piece of advice is to make sure that you annotate your folio, as this is the only way that you will be able to communicate to your assessor what your point is and what you were looking to achieve as you were creating each different garment idea. If you are looking to be accepted into a fashion design course, I definitely would recommend that you do include a lot of fashion sketches and design ideas into your folio, as this will communicate to your assessor that you do have an interest and a love for fashion design, and you really want to portray this through your works.

However, if you have previously taken an art based subject in school or externally, which is not fashion related, I would still recommend adding this work into your folio, as not only will this save time and allow you to add more work to your folio, but it will also showcase your other skills as a designer that can be transferred into fashion pieces. However one piece of advice I would like to convey is that definitely live by the words “quality over quantity” when it comes to your folio, particularly if you find yourself rushed for time between creating your folio and the deadline for submission. You want to showcase you design capabilities not your ability to mass produce designs that do not represent your full capabilities.

If you do decide to add mood boards/collages of inspiration into your folio, I would steer clear of including other fashion designers works into your folio, instead make sure that your draw all your inspiration from other places for example architecture, artwork, fabrics and anything other non-fashion related sources of inspiration that resonate with you as a designer. This is critical as it will ensure that your designs are both personal and original and are not just reconstructions of other fashion designers pieces.

I would recommend researching the basic elements and principles of design if this is something that is foreign to you. These elements and principles should most definitely be referred to through your annotation and sketches of garments. Make use of the elements and principles of design in order to extend and stretch your fashion sketches to their fullest and most rich potential. I would recommend that you do incorporate some computer aided design usage throughout your folio, if you are lucky enough to have a basic knowledge in this area. Design assessors really are looking to accept design students who are able to convey surprising results through their design experimentation, so do not be afraid to convey a lot of your own character and personality as a designer in your works.

Finally, do not be afraid to give it your best shot. As I stated earlier, there is no guarantee that you will be accepted the first time. However, even if do miss out initially, there is nothing wrong with reapplying at the next submission date. You can use this extra time to enroll in a folio development program or short course and hopefully you will make some connections there that will be able to assist you in the folio development process for your next attempt. Work your hardest and do not give up. Work up until the deadline and you never know what the outcome will be. You could find yourself accepted into the course of your dreams, but you will never know until you try.



Liv Perry X



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