Featured Student : Lorraine Smith

Header by Rosie Reed Gold 

How old are you?

I am 39

Can you tell us about your background?

I’m from Buckinghamshire, which is close enough to London that I enjoyed lots of school trips to the capital’s art galleries when I was growing up. My favourite subjects at school included art and textiles, so I enrolled on a year-long art foundation course at a local college before going on to complete a BSc (Hons) in Textile Design and Design Management at the University of Manchester. At this point my head was full of knowledge about fibres, fabrics and the textile industry, but I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do with it all yet!

I spent the next fifteen years in a variety of administrative jobs, filling my spare time with an assortment of creative short courses and a lot of blogging. After a while, I looked at everything I’d studied in my evenings and weekends in recent years – including fashion journalism, vintage lingerie techniques, corset making – and realised that I enjoyed the background knowledge more than the practical skills I’d picked up. I loved learning about these things, because I could then explain them to other people.

What drew you to fashion?

I have been interested in clothing all my life. As a child I owned Barbie and Sindy dolls, plus a Fashion Wheel so that I could play at being a designer. As a teenager, I was obsessed with the BBC programme The Clothes Show and would regularly travel to London with my friends and spend an entire Saturday in Topshop at Oxford Circus. I adore fabric and love to know how garments are made and how fibres are produced. More recently my love of the garments themselves, rather than the fashion industry as a whole, drew me towards vintage clothing, and an obsession with lingerie.

Why did you join this MA?

It was my desire to look at the ‘why’s and how’s’ of fashion that led me to discover the MA History and Culture of Fashion at London College of Fashion. Studying garments can tell us a lot about the people who wear them and the culture they live in. Clothing is more than just a way of fitting in and showing that you are aware of the latest trends, it can also be used to signify class, gender, age or occupation. Fashion can be used to express identity and to differentiate subcultures and modern ‘tribes’. I am in my second year of studying part-time and can confirm that his course has enabled me to combine my previous studies with my passions, producing fascinating and fulfilling academic research. Being based in central London gives this course an advantage over any others that are similar, because you really can immerse yourself in fashion when you live here.

What extra-curricular activities were you involved in this past few months?

As I am studying part-time, most of my time outside of lectures is spent working. However, I have managed to fit in a few extra-curricular activities and a fair amount of fashion-related blogging too (I am the founder and editor of Rarely Wears Lipstick). I recently attended a talk at Somerset House entitled “Inside the Archive: The Isabella Blow Collection”, which was a great accompaniment to the current Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! exhibition. In December last year I attended a study day at the V&A on the history of British music hall.

Where do you hope to be in two years from now?

After I have completed the course I hope to continue my research. I have always wanted to write a book, so perhaps I shall find a topic that could help me achieve that goal.

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5 thoughts on “Featured Student : Lorraine Smith

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