Ask Alexandra: Best Fashion Courses

Ask Alexandra is my advice column. Have a question you want to ask me? Fill out the form here.

Here are two questions that have come to me about fashion schools.

Rachel WIlkinson, London College of Fashion, fashion jobs, careers, fashion school, St Martins

Hello Alexandra,

You have written quite useful advice regarding fashion education, but I’d like to know which fashion schools would you say are the best ones in continental Europe, or what would be the most advisable source to find that out. I have found the Fashionista ranking to be a very strange patch of information, given the fact that it lists fashion schools no one has ever heard of while being extremely vague about their qualities. Given the fact that realistic, reliable data for it is scarce (online forum comments are always tricky), and after reading your insightful “5 things to consider before choosing a fashion college,” I thought you’d have an insight that is clearer than most.

Many thanks, and congratulations for your blog,

Rudolf

Here are two questions that have come to me about fashion schools.

Hi Rudolf,

This is a tough question that I really wish I could answer for you properly, but I don’t have the knowledge to do this. On that note, neither does Fashionista, I saw their list of Top 50 Fashion Schools in the World, and I will agree it is totally flawed. Marangoni and Esmod on top of Royal College of Art? That is CRAZY! Plus, they don’t explain how they created the ranking, so I don’t think it is accurate at all.

Anyway, here is some advice I can give you, based on what I know. And remember, this list is based on my personal experience only.

  • The UK has a lot of good schools, the best being St. Martins, but other schools of note are Royal College of Art, London College of Fashion, Ravensbourne, Epsom, Middlesex, and Kingston. I know about five Kingston graduates very well, and they are all based in Paris now. Between them, they have all held VERY senior roles at companies like Hermes, Dior, Sonia Rykiel, Burberry, Ungaro, Giambattista Valli, and Givenchy. As far as I know, their graduates are highly valued, as are the other ones on this list.
  • Ecoles de la Chambre Syndicale in Paris is good, but very technical and not great at training designers, although they are super well connected in the indsutry. Studio Bercot was good when I was in Paris ten years ago.
  • Antwerp Royal Academy also has a good reputation, but it is very hard to get in, and extremely difficult to make it through the four year course.
  • I have no opinion or knowledge of the schools in Italy, but in my many years in the fashion industry, I have never met someone in a senior, or even middle, role in the fashion industry who studied at an Italian school, which leads me to think that the Italian schools aren’t much good unless you plan on staying in Italy. On that note, I have heard that Marangoni trains a lot of people who go into the business side of fashion.
  • Stay away from American schools abroad (ex. American schools in Paris or London) as they generally have bad reputations and are total rip offs.

Hope that helps!

Here are two questions that have come to me about fashion schools.

Hi,
I am interested in finding out which schools have the top ‘fashion design short courses’ internationally, for people who do not have the time and money to spend on getting bachelors or masters in fashion design. People only discuss what schools are best for bachelors and masters, and we all know the top names. but for someone like me who already has a bachelors degree in textile design, and a couple of years of work experience, finding and choosing what school would be most useful for me to go to for short courses in fashion design and pattern making/draping is very difficult. I would really appreciate your help and knowledge on this one.

Here are two questions that have come to me about fashion schools.

Dear Myra,

I worked for the short course programs for both Central Saint Martins and London College of Fashion, and I highly recommend both of them. They are either evening, weekend, or summer school classes. The summer school classes are intensive 5 day courses, and you are taught by instructors who are on the degree and MA course teams. Sure, there will be a lot of international rich girls who think they are entitled to jobs in the industry because they can afford the designer clothing, but you can make the most of it by asking a lot of questions from the instructors and showing a lot of interest.

Plus, you get to spend some time in London and it is a fantastic city!

If anyone has any follow up questions on this post, feel free to ask them in the comments! I will be answering them as they come in. And also… I am working on an ebook about how to break into the fashion industry. If you are interested in getting info about this when it launches, drop me an email to searching4style@gmail.com with “Interested” in the subject line.

Fashion illustrations by Rachel Elisabeth Wilkinson, a graduate from London College of Fashion.

This entry was posted in Ask Alexandra, Fashion Jobs & Fashion Schools and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • Rudolf Seabra

    This is Rudolf speaking “”, thank you for your reply Alexandra! Except that with Mr.Cameron’s stand at education funding, studying in the UK has become prohibitive for me. I was already aware of Antwerp (It’s actually my dream school, and still my major goal), and I wonder, is it harder than Central St.Martin’s to get in? Or the type of students they search for is different?
    As a fellow Hermès lover myself, I must say I have become quite fond of your blog. And, your pro-fur rant was actually quite courageous and a fresh perspective that was really eye opening regarding this topic.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, it is really sad that the tuition fees have gone up at lot in the UK, I think the fashion world will miss out on a lot of amazing talent because they won’t be able to afford the good schools. I believe (although I am not sure) that Antwerp’s course is much smaller than CSM, and is therefore a little more difficult to get into. My suggestion is to contact the school and ask them questions. And if you get in, let me know about your experience there!

  • Namrata Bharati

    Hi Alexendra,
    I am from India,and i want to ask you what role an fashion institute plays in fashion designing career. Is it realy important to be graduate from a big institute to have a bright future in this field?

  • Rudolf Seabra

    Hi Alexandra! Well, the Antwerp office is very, very nice (as most Belgians I have ever encountered, for that matter) but they are always quite vague about what they are searching for in a student. The impression I did get is that they are much more focused on creativity and putting fashion in a broader cultural context, a very Belgian approach, if you will.

  • Rudolf Seabra

    Alexandra, would you be able to give me some feedback regarding illustrations and sketches if I e-mailed you those, if that would not be too much of a stretch? I am aware you have a life and other commitments, but such help would be greatly appreciated!

  • http://twitter.com/Ines_Cruz Inés Cruz

    Hi everybody! I went to 2 summer courses at St.Martins myself (one of them taught by Alexandra) and I highly recommend them. Sure, as she says, sometimes you find people who are there only to spend some time because the generaly like fashion, but in my case, which was trying to learn about the fashion business when contemplating a career change, they were very useful. Also, St. Martins was very helpful when recommending me the courses which were more interesting for me.

    http://www.chezagnes.blogspot.com

  • Ramansharma774
  • Anonymous

    Hi Rudolf,
    I’m afraid that is a bit of a stretch… Are they posted anywhere? If you blog or Tumblr them I can certainly leave a comment or two!

  • Anonymous

    It helps, but it isn’t a necessity. A good school doesn’t only offer you an excellent education, but it allows you to network and make good contacts. If you can’t go to a good school, just make sure to try and make those contacts.

  • lakshmi

    hi Alexandra, I am thinking of doing a one year course in fashion business. I am confused between Marangoni Milan and ESMOD paris. As it is not a masters course, and I do not have any previous experience in design, do you think such a course is beneficial? Which school has better job prospects after completing the course? Many Thanks

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    I’m sorry, I really can’t give you much advice on these schools as I know very little about them. I believe Marangoni has a better reputation, but I am not 100% sure of this.

  • lakshmi

    thank you alexandra :)

  • avani

    Hi Alexandra, I am from India, could you pls tell me how the diploma course in fashion management at LCF is, if there will be good job prospects after its completion both in the UK as well as India, and if its better to do the same course in India or is it worthwhile spending so much and going out? Thankyou :)

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    LCF is a great school, but I know nothing about the schools or industry in India so I cna’t make a comparison.

  • Snooka

    Hi Alexandra,
    I am living in Australia and have always been very interested in fashion design but haven’t had much exposure. I was interested in taking the CSM 4 week fashion design summer school course. Do you know much about it? Would you recommend it to a beginner? Are there other courses that you think are better?

    Thanks!

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    It has been a while since I have taught there, but from what I know, almost all of the classes are great.

  • zander

    Hi Alexandra,

    In this post you mentioned to stay away from American schools that are in Europe. Do you know anything about Paris College of Art, and it’s reputation in the industry? Would you recommend going there or do you know anything of the quality of their fashion education?
    Thanks,
    Z

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    Haven’t heard of it. My thoughts are, if you are going to study at in Paris, go to a French school that will have French teachers, French tuition fees (WAY cheaper than American ones), and better connections to land you jobs an internships in Paris.

  • Ezoe Robinson

    Hi Alexandra, I am 19 and I recently got offers from BA Fashion at Westminster and BA womenswear, ( and Fashion Print) at Central Saint Martins, but I am now torn between CSM womenswear and Westminster, due to the fact I heard that there is not a lot of technical tuition on the CSM BA. However I have seen a few students who have managed to get good jobs at the end of the course at high end brands like Marchesa and internships at Dior and Lanvin. At the same time a larger amount of students from Westminster have found jobs at brands such as Robert cavalla, Karen Millen, Mulberry ect and have more technical and construction skills, but a less reputation. I have heard good and bad things about the CSM and Westminster BA. Which school has better job prospects after completing the course? Kind Regards

    Ezoe

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    I think you weighed the odds quite well in your comment. It is true that CSM isn’t know for getting the fast fashion jobs (which are usually the ones that pay better.) I’d say if you are more into creativity/artsy stuff and want to have your own business, go to CSM. If not, go to Westminster. I didn’t have a single technical class on the MA at CSM, but then again, we were expected to have the technical skills by then.

  • Nico

    Hi, Alexandra!

    I have just graduated from Architecture College in Brasil and I want to try a career in Fahion. I have applied for Graduate Diploma in Fashion at CSM, but didn’t have enough material to get admitted. I’m thinking of doing some short courses in order to find out witch courses I could enroll aftewards. But my doubt is: what type of course or level would I fit in? I feel I am caught in a place between undergrad and post grad… (I don’t have the all the skills of a BA Bachelor in Fashion, but feel that going through a college all over again isn’t necessary, especially having skills in Architecture that can be used in Fashion).

    Would you know of any courses (not short ones) in Fashion Design that would take a student with a slightly diverse background? I am thinking of going to London for that..

    Thank you so much!

  • Arshack

    Hi Alexandra, I have received 2 offers for an MA in Fashion Design. One is from LCF and the other from
    Kingston. Which one would you recommend me to accept? Many Thanks

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    Both are very good! Although I think LCF might have a better international reputation. And look at course sizes… Congratulations!

  • Arshack

    Thanks for the quick reply! :)

    I thought so too but after I saw on the link bellow that it is the number 4th best University in the world and your comments about the people you know graduates from Kingston University, I got I bit confused…
    I guess I will just choose the cheaper or the one with more scholarships…

    http://fashionista.com/2013/06/top-fashion-schools-2013/5/

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    Fashionista’s ratings are hardly scientific. But yes, Kingston is awesome, although so is LCF. I think LCF is better for high street/fast fashion jobs and Kingston is better for luxury. Keep in mind that fast fashion
    jobs usually pay better, and you are less likely to “expire” when you get old, whereas there isn’t much room for “old” people in the luxury world, unless you are on the technical or business side. Good luck!

  • Arshack

    Hahaha! you are right! I am the National sample coordinator for for one of the biggest british retailers in Bangladesh… I just felt I wanted to start an ethical brand made in here for the luxury market. I think I got already my choice! :) Many many thanks Alexandra!!!

  • Smith

    Hi there! I am currently planning to enrol into one of LCF’s short courses and I was hoping if you could give me some feedback as to which one of these courses is better, if one were interested in fashion brand management : Luxury brand management & product design OR Creative brand management. I already have a MSc in International Marketing that covered brand management but I would like to expand my knowledge of its application in fashion. Love to hear what you have to say! Thanks!:)

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    Sorry, I am not very familiar with any of those courses, find out who the instructors are and look up their bios.

  • yayaaaa

    Hi Alexandra, as I’m dropping out of college after 3 months, i would love to attend a short course beginning i January in Paris. Do you have any suggestions?
    Thanks for your time!

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    I don’t know of any, although I HIGHLY recommend the short courses at London College of Fashion and St. Martins.

  • Sylvia

    Hi Alexandra,
    I have a quick question for you. I would like to do a short course in fashion buying and merchandising and I found two options, one course is taught at the LCF and the other one is taught at the Fashion Retail Academy. Now I know that LCF reputation may be better than FRA but the second course seemed more practical, in-depth and exhaustive than the LCF one. What do you think? Do you know anything about FRA? Which one would you reccomend?

    Thank you very much!

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    Haha, I used to teach at FRA, too. It is a very good school, and the instructors are pros. I would go with the one whose description is best suited to your needs, both are good schools.

  • caroline

    Hi Alexandra! I’m portuguese and I am now applying to BA fashion design in England. My options are CSM ( BA fashion womenswear) ; LCF( BA Fashion Design and development) and Kingston (BA fashion). I am finishing my portfolio but i still have some doubts. I read a lot of advices of senior students on the internet about the portfolios to apply to CSM, and what I have read is really scary. I know that they are demanding and critical, but is that true that they only took 5 minutes to see and analyze a portfolio? I need to know more about the portfolio analysis and what they really want to see there, because in my country we don’t need to show a portfolio to go to uni, we just need to have specific minimum grades. I also read that sometimes if they think you aren’t good enough for the BA they put you on the foundation course if you haven’t one yet, is that true? or they just reject your application?

    Thanks! I really like your posts!

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    Yes, it is true that they only spend five minutes as that is enough time to gauge whether a students is decent or not. I’m guessing that if they think it is great, they will spend more than five minutes. They look for research and development, as well as final product. Non conventional inspiration and illustrations will help you stand out. So will an interesting background. And yes, sometimes they will accept you onto foundation, take that as a compliment!

  • Divya Khanduri

    Hi Alexandra
    I am Divya from India and I am interested in Masters in Fashion styling. Can you suggest me some good colleges and full time courses available in the same field. I am already working as a stylist here but would like to go for higher education in the same field.
    As this is not really a much explored field so there are very less colleges that offer a masters in Fashion styling.

  • Divya Khanduri

    I would request you to suggest some colleges that offer Postgraduate or Masters in Fashion stling in USA, London and Paris.
    Thanks!

  • Nysha

    Hi Alexandra,

    I am planning on taking up a short course in Fashion and I want to try and get an internship after the completion of the course. Is there any college that offers short courses along with internships? I have checked out LCF and Kingston as you’ve suggested earlier and I have definitely shortlisted them. Could you suggest some colleges in France or Spain as well? Thank you :)

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    Sorry, I don’t know of any schools in Spain. Ecoles de la Chambre Syndicale and Studio Bercot in Paris are both good, but I don’t know if they do short courses.

  • Hanna

    Hi Alexandra
    I’m a 24 year old girl from Iceland who have a dream of being a stylist! I would love to find something that gives me diploma, maybe for the summertime or just shorter than 1 year! Can you help me :) ?

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    Check out short courses at St. Martins!

  • Kate

    Hi,Alex
    I ‘ve got the BA womenswear offers from both LCF and Ravensbourne,but just can’t decide which one to choose,i wonder which one is more about letting students do whatever they want and just be themselves??
    Thanks a lot!!