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Fashion Design

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fashion designFashion Design is a lesson that provides you with the opportunity to explore what you need to do to be a successful designer and how people use fashion to stand out in a crowd. This lesson is centred around the theme of Work and Education from the B2 First curriculum which explores how different societies create roles for people to develop their skills and knowledge.  In this lesson, we will learn how different designers have made it into the fashion business and how we view fashion.

Exercise 1Exercise 2Exercise 3QuizWord ListExtension
Watch Marc Jacobs talking about fashion design and answer the questions in the video. Name the famous fashion brand mentioned.

Click here to view transcript and answers

Louis Vuitton


I’m not recommending you cut school to go to trunk shows or fashion shows. But I did a little bit of that when I was younger too. By sharing what I know, I hope that it will inspire you to create and express yourself through fashion.

My grandmother would buy me Vogue, French Vogue sometimes if I was really lucky. And I would just pore over these images. That was my first introduction to fashion.

I’ll be discussing things that I wish I knew starting out. The heart of my class is sharing the technical process. Once in a while, it’s a fabric that inspires the dress. And other times it’s the dress we want to make that inspires the fabric. This is called intarsia when the fabric is not appliqued. It is actually pieced together, almost like a jigsaw puzzle. A nice juxtaposition, a finishing something beautifully and then leaving edges of the fabric frayed.

The runway show is very important to me. You can transmit not only ideas about texture and proportion but also about spirit and emotion.

I was brought into Louis Vuitton to shake things up. And it didn’t always sit well with the people who were there before me. A lot of the ideas that I had early on I was told, you can’t put this on the runway. And it really was when I stopped listening to everybody and did what I thought was right that I did what I was brought in to do. But I personally feel good when I take a risk. I’m proud of myself when I take a chance. I think you should too.

I hope you learn fashion is not an art. It’s part of the art of living. See what you really love. Do what you feel you have some kind of connection to. Create your own voice, your own vision, your own style. Taking creative risks is what fashion is about. I’m Marc Jacobs, and this is my MasterClass.

Listen to an interview with a fashion designer. Answer the questions.

1. What helped Pamela to decide to become a fashion designer?

2. What does Pamela say about having a degree in fashion?

3. Pamela says that when starting your own fashion label, it's most important to

4. Where does Pamela usually find inspiration for her fashion designs?

5. What aspect of her work does Pamela find most difficult to deal with?

6. According to Pamela, successful designers need to be able to

7. What advice does Pamela have for people who want a career in fashion?


Click here to view transcript

A: Hello, Pamela welcome to the program. So many young people want to be fashion designers these days but don’t know how to get started.

B: Hi, I thought exactly like that myself. You must first discover if this is really what you want to do. I wasn’t sure, to begin with, so I started off by looking for a store in my neighbourhood that sold its own clothes. The owner invited me into her studio and told me what a typical day was like. She allowed me to ask as many questions as I wanted and having made up my mind I then contacted a few colleges to see what courses in fashion were on offer and I was lucky to find one that seemed ideal.

A: So a degree in fashion is a must?

B: Well, you often meet designers who go to college later in life after years of working in the industry. The truth is the best students aren’t always the best designers but there’s no denying that a degree will show that you’ve got certain basic skills and get you your first job. Don’t be surprised to find colleagues with fewer qualifications on higher pay than your yourself. Making progress from that point will depend entirely on your personal talent.

A: What basic skills do you need?

B: When you ask a fashion student what they want to do they often reply have my own line, not an easy task, I must say. You need work experience first ideally in a successful fashion shop to understand that this industry is led by commerce. Starting your own line requires capital and a clear overview of how it’s going to develop without it clothes design can only be a hobby. Of course, if you have got an eye for colour, style and shape and an ability to draw you shouldn’t let go of the dream.

A: Where do you get the inspiration for your designs?

B: To be a good designer you have to be aware of the world you live, you need to go out and look at people’s lives and attitudes. You really have to learn how to observe what’s happening around you and I don’t mean going abroad necessarily. My social circle is invaluable for me for example, a constant source of ideas. You have to remember the clothes are not for you. You have to adapt to what other people want and don’t be tempted to imitate the famous designers however beautiful their collections might look.

A: Now, you’re a successful designer our things easy?

B: It took me a while to learn to cope with criticism though. You think your design drawings look brilliant but you mustn’t get upset if the garment doesn’t look as you’d imagined it. What I’ve never managed to get used to is the sheer amount of work involved in finishing your collection well in advance of the season. Some designers stop attending fashion shows for example which involved lots of time-consuming travelling but I’d be unhappy to give that up.

A: Do you have to do a lot of reading to keep up with trends?

B: You have to read fashion magazines and other media that reflect current trends and tastes. It doesn’t matter whether you want to use them in your own designs nobody knows what styles will be fashionable in say two years times, but the point is you have to know just about everything that’s been done before so that you could spot it when it becomes popular again.

A: This is a very competitive industry realistically, what are the chances for somebody starting?

B: Don’t make the mistake of aiming just for designing outfits which is just one part of a vast industry. You may be perfectly happy as an obscurer but competence designer of small pieces for collections, jewellery, hats, shoes all of which need to be created and then somebody has to market them sell them, market them. Fame and glory is just for the top twenty world designers and life isn’t always wonderful even for them.

A: Pamela, many thanks.

Read a news report about research on how fashion can influence how we feel about other people.

Try to answer the questions about fashion.

Here are keywords and phrases covered in the talk about fashion design:

  • boutiques
  • collections
  • commerce
  • create
  • creative risks
  • dress down
  • fabric
  • fashion designer
  • fashion industry
  • fashion magazines
  • fashion shows
  • fashion student
  • garment
  • juxtaposition
  • inspiration
  • obscurer
  • outfits
  • runway show
  • texture
  • trends
  • world designers
1. Write a magazine article about if we should wear whatever we like at school or work. Include imaginary interviews with people for and against this view of the type of clothes we should wear.
2. Write an email to a fashion expert. Ask him/her three questions about fashion. Give him/her three of your opinions on why we follow fashion.
3. Write a blog post about the day in the life of a famous fashion designer.

Especially helpful are exercises that are focussed on a theme or topic as these provide word retention practice so you can be confident to read, write, speak and listen successfully.

Customs and Traditions explores how we celebrate our cultural identity across the globe.

Entertainment and Leisure explores how we spent our free time.

Environment and Nature explores the way humans and animals live, adapt and change on our planet.

Exploring how different societies create roles for people to develop their skills and knowledge.

Exploring how we learn and adjust to the world around us. .

Exploring how we experience the world through our life journeys

The more words you encounter and understand, the broader your day-to-day vocabulary will become. Our word games and puzzles are an excellent way to help to reinforce spellings in your mind.

We add reading and writing exercises on a regular basis. Why not bookmark our site, so you can come back to practice anywhere or at any time of the day?

For this part, you practice how to understand the details of a text, including opinions and attitudes.

For this part, you practice how to understand the structure and follow the development of a text.

For this part, you practice how to find specific information in a text or texts.

In addition, we add listening and speaking exercises in order to practise for this part of the B2 First Exam.

In this part you talk to the examiner about yourself and your life, e.g. your name, school, interests and future plans.

In this part, you talk about two photos on your own which you have to compare for about 1 minute. After you have finished, your partner will be asked a short question about your photo. When your partner has spoken about their photos for about 1 minute, you will be asked a question about their photos.

In this part you express ideas with your partner by looking at a discussion point that the examiner gives you.

This will be available soon.

In this part, you focus on general aspects of a topic with the examiner or you may involve your partner.

This will be available soon.

In this part, you will hear people talking in eight different situations.

In this part, you will hear someone being interviewed.

In this part, you will hear five people talking about different things.

In this part, you will hear an interview.

Cambridge English Examinations:

Cambridge English exams are designed for learners at all levels from the pre-intermediate level Cambridge English: Key (KET) to the very advanced level Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE). These exams give candidates proof of their ability to use English in a wide variety of contexts, relevant to work, study and leisure activities.

A2 Key | B1 Preliminary | B2 First

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