#004 /making the grade
This past fall we were asked by the Arts Institute of Vancouver to photograph the clothes that the graduating class of the fashion design program had created for their end of term runway fashion show. The collaborative process with the school, students and faculty of the Fashion Design, Graphic Design and Film programs to create the imagery for the printed program was so rewarding for us, it became one of the reasons that we created TEST/model magazine! We think that it would be beneficial to those readers who might be thinking of a career in Fashion design to showcase a small selection of the student designs along with a short interview with one of the program instructors, Anita Heiberg.
Hello Anita, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself, first of all, what do you teach?
I teach Fashion Design, mostly construction and pattern making.
OK, so is that one course or is that one program?
Multiple courses, so multilevel construction, first, second and advanced levels as well as pattern making.
How long is the fashion design program at AiV, what is the length of the course?
Currently it’s six quarters (18 months).
How many times would a student have you over that six quarters?
Um, it depends, but for the most part I get them fairly early on, maybe with a Textiles course (another course that I teach) and Construction 1. I’ll probably end up having them three to five times over the 18 months. Sometimes it might be more depending on the courses I am teaching in a semester.
How many students are in your classroom at one time, generally?
We have been consistently in the eight to ten student mark but it doesn’t max out beyond twenty.
That sounds like a good ratio. What is the breakdown between male and female students?
It’s mostly, almost always, exclusively female! Occasionally we get one male here and there and I think that in Fashion Merchandising there is three male students right now.
WOW!! Attention all male students, enroll immediately in a Fashion Design Program!
Do you have many International Students? Do you know?
I would say that twenty-five to thirty percent of our programs students are International Students.
WOW! Where from?
A lot of students from Asia and some from France and also South America.
What sort of age demographic are the students? From youngest to oldest?
We get quite a few who come right out of high school, so in the eighteen year old range and twenty seems to be a common age also but in the last group that graduated we had two women who were in their forties. Coming back to do sort of a career change.
Oh, that’s interesting. How was that with the younger students?
It usually works well, as long as everybody is sort of there, focused and on task. It creates a camaraderie that holds everyone together.
Do you find the kids that come early, like right out of high school, have been obsessed with fashion their whole life? Or, is it just something they would like to try? Or, is it sort of a mix? (laughing) I ask because I am still confused about what I want to do!
Definitely a mix! I would say that the ones that are usually the most successful are the ones where fashion is their “life’s blood”, they’ve wanted to be in fashion forever. There are always a few that show up with that enthusiasm and during the course they go “um, actually I just really like to shop”.
Fashion isn’t quite what they thought it would be so they either figure that out or if they prefer they can switch to the marketing/merchandising side.
Do any of the Marketing/Merchandising students take your courses also?
There are some crossover courses that the design students take that are beneficial to their careers, such as marketing. I don’t teach any of those courses but the Merchandising students take a textiles course from me. Product Development, Trends & Forecasting these are also some crossover courses that both groups would take.
What is your background as far as education?
I did my Bachelor’s degree at Kwantlen University. That was a four year program and then two years ago I continued on an did a post graduate course in Innovative Pattern Cutting at Central St. Martins in London.
How was that experience for you?
Kwantlen was very practical, “know your market”, “what will sell?” and Central St. Martins was INSPIRING!
Interesting, I actually appreciate the “practical” because I don’t believe that you can teach “creativity”. Learn the ropes, earn your “bones” and THEN get your creative juices flowing. Bring that creative energy back to the practical and create a monster!
Do you love teaching?
Yes, that is why I am going to go back to school and do my Masters, go back and focus more on the design. I want to continue to teach and I think that the continued study will make me a better teacher.
Have any of your students, since you have been teaching gone on to do any design or work for other people?
Yes, we have a few students who work locally with Chloe Angus, working as assistant designers with her. We have marketing students that are working with Melissa Ferriera at Adhesif Clothing and there is one of the more recent grads, Chantal-Joy Lamoste whose design you photographed. Chantal is working for Club Med in South America, designing and maintaining costumes for all their show productions.
Interesting, how is that going for her?
She’s having a great time.
We have also had a few students that have gone over to England and Ireland who are pursuing their dreams there.
Are they apprenticing or interning?
Yes, we have some interning at companies right now.
Do you recommend that for students as a way to get their foot in the door.
It is a good way to test out the job opportunities and also to build a network and start collaborations.
This has been great Anita! Do you have any parting wisdom for our readers?
Yes, this business is so much about who you know and meet, take advantage of the networking opportunities no matter where you are. You can meet the most interesting people and opportunities if you are focused on being in the present and open to the possibilities. I have many stories about “conversations” that would have never had happened if I had stayed on the couch!
Thanks for your time Anita, and best of luck with your Masters!
photography / victor john penner
producer / marlisse penner
hair / emma park / alana martin / beth turner for avant garde
makeup / caitlin callahan (key) / atefeh shojaie for mac cosmetics
first assistant / rob seebacher
interns / bill hawley / sebastian penner
retouching / manolo lugo for the lab
videos / courtesy of AiV
jonie wong / fashion design
aldrin delumen / fashion design
alicja ferec / fashion design
carolina wong / graphic design
sharlyn vanden broek / fashion design
special thanks to the following for their support and/or loan of products and service…
aiv / aida poostizadeh / anita heiberg
/ beth margolese / brenda wong / guy babineau
/ kevin wall / paul winskell / sandra scott
special advisor / mike granek