Featured Student: Sarah Harrison

Tell us about your background.

I moved to London four years ago to study for my BA in History. I really wanted to do the BA in Fashion History and Theory but didn’t make the cut, so I began with my History degree instead, with the aim of progressing on to the MA course. I have always loved history, and in particular the history of dress. My BA dissertation focused on African American Fashion in the 1920s.

Why Fashion?

That’s hard to summarise coherently, but during my mid-teens (always a melodramatic but important time) I had an epiphany regarding what my clothes meant to me and my own identity, and as such the significance of dress to humanity. I then realised that my fascination with period clothing and love of vintage styles could be channelled into academic writing and potentially a career, so I thought I would give it a shot and pursue what I loved reading and philosophising about. I never could draw, sew etc. Although I do sometimes knit, but only to strict pre-existing patterns.

Why did you join this MA?

I knew I wanted to do the MA since before I knew it existed. Once I realised I wasn’t going to get to study fashion history at undergraduate level, I looked for an MA course on the subject. From then on my undergraduate degree was almost like a waiting game! Ultimately though I’m glad I waited. My History BA provided me with an understanding of academic research and essay writing which set me up perfectly for the MA. This course has then provided me the opportunity to explore the subject matter which interests me. It’s also incredibly flexible, and I’ve been able to investigate a range of topics, ideas and eras, almost to my heart’s content!

Hopefully it will also set me up to continue doing what I love and build a career based on enjoyment rather than just necessity.

Give us an example of a particular project you have enjoyed working on during the course.

I think maybe my contextual studies essay was at least the most interesting, perhaps as it was the most challenging. I took the opportunity to experiment with a new research method which I had never used before. I used oral testimony accounts to investigate the personal significance of jewellery inheritance by interviewing my own grandmother about some of the pieces she has given to me over the past few years. Not only did I learn how to conduct an academic interview, I also had the invaluable experience of recording part of my grandmother’s, and my own personal history, through the medium of dress and adornment. That’s something that I will cherish forever.

What extracurricular activities have you been involved with?

Being a part of the course and the London College of Fashion means you have access to a variety of lectures and events. I really enjoyed the Costume Society study day at the beginning of the first term which considered the role of fashion in times of conflict. I also attended the recent conference on Alexander McQueen, as well as a talk by the Savage Beauty exhibition curator Claire Wilcox. It’s fascinating to have access to these professional and peer insights.

Where do you hope to be in two years time?

Hopefully pursuing a career related to my fashion history and cultural studies, maybe in an archivist role. Of course it would be nice to have an apartment in Manhattan but I might give myself 5 years for that one!


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