Ahead of this year’s annual Fashion Matters Gala, we spoke to some of our BA graduates to find out how their awards and bursaries helped them and why they think fashion matters. We spoke to Raisa Mondal from BA Hons Cordwainers Footwear Design and Development, Maria Clara Lorusso from BA (Hons) Fashion Photography, Egle Andriuskeviciute from BA (Hons) Fashion Styling and Production and Taavi Tiidt from BA (Hons) Fashion Visual Merchandising and Branding. Here’s what they had to say…

Footwear by Raisa Mondal

Footwear by Raisa Mondal

Why did you choose to study at LCF?

Raisa: LCF is one of the top fashion schools in the world and the prospect of studying there as well as living in London, was motivating enough for me to work hard to get there.

Maria Clara: When I finished high school in Italy I knew that I wanted to find a place where contemporary image making practices meet fashion, and London College of Fashion is an institution highly renowned for excellence in this area.

Taavi: The reason I decided to study at LCF, and what set it apart from other prominent fashion schools, is that it concentrates on the business side of fashion while still appreciating and valuing creativity. The industry links LCF has built up over the years, also makes it easier to find career opportunities once you graduate. It is a highly regarded college by many companies and having this name on your CV makes things a lot easier.

Egle: I was looking for a course that would combine fashion, art direction, film and photography

How did you go about applying for the scholarship? What was the process like?

Raisa: I was informed about the many bursaries available to students by the course tutors and I found Fashion Matters the most suited to my cause and aims. The process was straightforward and brief.

Maria Clara: Since I knew quite well what I wanted to achieve from the final major project, filling the application form was quite easy for me. I knew the results I wanted to achieve and why the scholarship offered by LCF was going to be an important help for my project.

Taavi: I remember our course leader kept reminding us about the application deadline, but as everything is so hectic during the last year of uni, I somehow managed to leave it to the very last minute. But I think as long as you are clear about your work and have an opinion about why fashion matters, it doesn’t require too much time, as the application process itself is fairly easy and straight forward.

Egle: The process was really quick and painless. The whole application didn’t take me longer than a few hours

Photography by Maria Clara Lorusso

Photography by Maria Clara Lorusso

How has the funding helped you? What did you use the money for?

Raisa: I am very grateful to have received the funding as it allowed me to really take my project to the next level. I used the money to source the most suitable eco-friendly products for my range of footwear and even use sustainable components. Most importantly, I was able to work with independent embroiderers in India and pay them fair wages, which they deserve due to their incredible talent and hard work.

Maria Clara: I used the money to made a book that has braille writing embedded on almost all its pages. The idea was to create a piece that could be accessible by both fully sighted and by people with visual impairments. The scholarship helped me ito make the book possible, and was also one of my final major project pieces.

Taavi: The funding helped me in many ways. I was able to make decisions that bettered my work and allowed me to stay true to my concept. I was able to fly my model in from Sweden, as she is someone who inspired me a lot, but also hire a location that created an authentic backdrop for the images. It also allowed me to collaborate with people from the industry, people who I was really excited to work with.

Egle: I used the money to fund my final major project. It helped me a lot as I did not have to limit myself on materials, I chose the initial super 8 for the film and was able to make an installation and printed magazines.

Why does fashion matter?

Raisa: Fashion matters because the industry can bring to the forefront the talents of craftswomen, through better wages and improved working conditions they can lead happier and independent lives.

Maria Clara: “Fashion matters” is at the core of my practice. I feel that fashion sometimes seems to be only for an elite when it should be for anyone. Fashion is not only about garments and money, it is about identities and dreams and discovering and presenting ourselves to the world. Fashion images should be accessible by both sight and touch, in order to make them available to a wider range of audience.

Taavi: Fashion matters to the economy, to society and to each of us personally. In 2016, the industry reached a staggering $2.4 trillion in total value and if it were ranked alongside individual countries’ GDP, the global fashion industry would represent the world’s seventh largest economy. And yet, for some observers, fashion is regarded as simultaneously superficial, frivolous and indulgent, a private-members’ club run buy well-dressed individuals, who just couldn’t get a ‘real job’. It is often overlooked that people in the fashion industry are highly intelligent, passionate and talented, but also how much work, commitment, thought and knowledge goes into what they do, whether it is designing clothes or creating a business strategy.

Egle: Being a profit driven industry that leads a significant part of the global economy fashion is often overlooked in terms of responsibilities and influences it brings to the society. I believe that instead of promoting a mindless consumption fashion media could use its’ influential status to promote more mindful living.

If it wasn’t for my award…

Raisa: If it wasn’t for my award I wouldn’t have achieved the quality of work I did in my final project, that was personal and special to me. Thanks to this project I now have a foundation upon which I can build my own brand in the future.

Maria Clara: I would have not made the final piece as it is.

Taavi: I probably wouldn’t have shot my imagery at the Ritz.

Egle: I wouldn’t have graduated… Just kidding! It really helped me to realise my project to it’s full potential. It helped me to expand my project from the film to the zine and installation.

What have been the highlights of your time at LCF?

Raisa: I enjoyed the final year the most as I was able to delve further into my interests and future aspirations. My placement year was also very important to me, because I had the chance to work hard on my professional and technical skills. I also met incredible people during placement year, on my course and at LCF who continually motivated me. Studying and living in London was an experience I will always treasure.

Maria Clara: The time I spent at LCF has been the most exciting and challenging time I’ve spent in any educational institution. There have been many turning points in my practices but I think I am nowadays also a different person, probably a better one.

Taavi: I have had many highlights during my time at LCF. For example winning a John Lewis collaboration project during my first year or being one of the finalists at the VM Student Awards 2016, a collaboration between Liberty London x London College of Fashion. The biggest highlight of course was graduating London College of Fashion with First-Class Honours. But I think most importantly it is the people, both the students and the lecturers. It is extremely inspiring to be surrounded by creative minds with similar interests and different cultural backgrounds and also to be taught by experienced industry professionals from different fields of fashion. Another huge highlight is the extensive knowledge and experience you gain – over the three years at LCF I developed immensely both as a creative and as an individual.

Egle: Now that I have graduated I really miss it. I really enjoyed industry guests talks and workshops. Also, the amount of freedom we got while doing our projects – testing from clothes creation, to organising shows and creating film

9 to 5 by Egle Andriuskeviciute

9 to 5 by Egle Andriuskeviciute

What are your plans for the future and what are you working on at the moment?

Raisa: At the moment I am working as a freelance designer and with a high street footwear supplier in India. My aim for the future is to work my way up the design ladder until I am prepared to work on my own brand.

Maria Clara: I am currently undertaking an MA in  Photography at Central Saint Martins. Hopefully this will lead me to a PhD and to a career in academia. Moreover I am working as a  freelancer and, of course, I am still working on the possibility of creating accessible images.

Taavi: I hope to get to work with some of the greatest minds in the fashion industry. I think my main goal is to experience and create as much as I possibly can. I have just recently finished working for Mary Katrantzou and I am currently helping a well established group of creatives and businessmen, who all already own a portfolio of successful brands, launch a new fashion brand with a fresh concept.

Egle: My plan is to be a freelance film and image maker. At the moment I am working on various projects – I have recently installed a work in a gallery in Bath, collaborated on shoots and will be styling a pop up event in London.