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High Heels, High Hopes, and the Role of Fashion Design Schools

The fashion world has long been filled with glitz and glamour. The runway for models is always long, dramatic, and well-lit. The walk is certainly a path to fame, fortunately for aspirants, but sometimes leading to embarrassment. Who is behind all these promises and even breakdowns? None other than the fashion designers.

What exactly does a fashion designer do?

Basically, with streaks of talent, creativity, and sensitivity, fashion designers, as if influenced by Rumpelstiltskin, create accessory and clothing sketches. They usually specialize in one type of accessory or garment such as women's or men's apparel, swimwear, lingerie, children's garments, handbags, and even shoes. They sometimes lead the groundwork for the creation and promotion of their designs.

Famous fashion designers prefer to be self-employed and cater to the requests of their clients. Some cater to high-fashion department stores or specialty stores. They establish fashion statements by determining the colors, silhouette, and type of materials that are worn each season.

There are also designers who are employed by clothing manufacturers. These designers simply adapt fashion statements set by other designers for the market. However, there are small manufacturers who only purchase or copy designs.

Both designers sketch unique garments and follow current fashion trends. Likewise, both need assistants who can adapt to the fast-paced schedule of the fashion business.

In detail, these designers execute the following tasks:

- Draw their unique designs.
- Create patterns for sample garments.
- Choose textiles and accessories.
- Apply tailoring and basic dressmaking principles, along with draping techniques and flat pattern works.
- Fit and alter the completed product, if necessary.
- Set up fashion shows.
- Compare the performance of the merchandise against competitors.
- Keep themselves up-to-date on the latest fashion trends through magazines and other fashion shows.
- Make frequent trips to fabric showrooms to stay updated on the latest types of fabrics.

Actually, fashion designers can be categorized as follows:

1. Lead or Head Designers: They take care of the executive and creative tasks.

2. Assistant or Apprentice Designers: They usually create patterns and sample garments. They may also teach sample makers how to create patterns and designer garments.

3. Specialty Designers: They coordinate with other designers on special lines of garments.

4. Costume or Theatrical Designers: They usually create costumes used in theater and movie productions on a contractual basis.

The foundations for their creations are their knowledge, skills, and abilities honed in fashion schools and training over time.

- Basic Design: This refers to the technical know-how involved in the creation and use of technical blueprints, drawings, plans, and models.
- Idea Production: This is the ability of designers to approach problems creatively and resourcefully.
- Dynamic Learning: This is the ability to analyze the implications of new information and materials at hand.
- Operations Scrutiny: This is considering the requirements of products to execute a design.
- Uniqueness: This pertains to unusual cleverness in trying situations.
- Harmonization: This is the ability to have good coordination with others.
- Visioning: This is the ability to see how an organization works under real conditions.

The talents and skills of these artists are really important in the fashion industry. The work requires an eye for striking creations and business management. Thus, aside from the portfolio of their usual creations, formal education helps these designers acquire the secrets of the trade in this business. In fact, graduation from a college or school that provides training in fashion and design is highly recommended in the industry to keep incoming designers updated on the advent of new techniques and technologies.

However, some leaders of this industry view vocational training schools and community colleges as more capable of producing competent artists because these institutions work alongside clothing industries.

Vocational schools provide training in sketching, draping and grading, pattern making, garment construction, textiles and trimmings, costume history, principles of design and color, and how to plan and market seasonal fashion lines.

High school students inclined in fashion and design should complete basic courses in arts, sewing, mathematics, speech, English, and business.

Usually, vocational institutions provide a two-level program with a certificate that is equivalent to an Associate of Arts degree. For those who want to enter the fashion field immediately, a first-level certificate of proficiency is provided. The next level of proficiency, the second level, requires a longer time to complete. But upon graduation, artists are considered competent enough to aim for positions as Assistant Designers. After all the necessary formal training and specializations, those who have the guts and high hopes spin gold fabrics!