Sunday, 19 February 2012

"I Want This Job": Luxury label Senior Womenswear Designer

Hey everyone!
Who's been excited & blown away by fashion week so far??? I'm loving everyone's highlights of either their fave collections and overviews of AW12/13 rtw... Pretty much fell in love with Jason Wu, Temperley, J Mendel... sigh. There's so much gorgeousness that makes me actually love the winter season more. Been catching up slowly with what the fash pack wore too over at Lee's blog - LeeOliveira & also Tommy Ton on

I've been dying to share this next "I Want this Job" feature for a while now, but since I can't exactly reveal who she works for (- I don't want her to get in trouble with PR/HR folks!), perhaps I can mention the prestigious luxury label is showing today at LFW. Today's feature is on Senior Womens Wear Designer & style maven Tanya. She is about to give us the low-down on one of the most-wanted jobs around!

Camille Miceli, Jewellery/Accessories designer at Dior via Nowness

What do you actually do?
I design a second line for a luxury fashion brand based in London. On a day to day basis I spend my time drawing, doing fittings, preparing research boards, communicating with our factories and product development team. I travel both internationally and in the UK visiting factories and fabric fairs. I am also involved in lookbook photoshoot, critical path planning and print direction.

What's your typical working day like?

See above. I start at 8.30-9am usually and have breakfast at my desk! I am away a lot and also work at home on days I have lots of sketching to do. I also tend to have meetings scheduled in most days for range planning, print direction, fabric sourcing, design hand over, fitting and sales & marketing direction, plus feedback. I try and eat lunch away from my desk and I tend to finish around 7pm ish.

What core responsibilities do you have as a Senior womenswear Designer?
  • Critical path planning & range planning
  • Direction for the season including concept and theme
  • Print direction
  • Mood and colour boards
  • Designing the collection including detailed specs (aka flats: technical drawings of the garment showing stitches, measurements & info) for handover to the pattern and product development teams
  • Fitting: both prototypes and production fits
  • Fabric selection
  • Trim selection
  • Pricing structure ensuring fabric and CMT prices for for retail structure
  • Strike off (product sample) approvals
  • Trim specs
  • Showroom set up
  • Seasonal presentations to sales/ press
  • Model selection/castings
  • Lookbook styling and direction on the shoot

What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently working on RTW for SS13 putting together colour palettes/research boards and initial design concepts

Yohji Yamamoto's sketches in progress via Nowness

Does the preparation of a season's collection take a lot of time?

It should do but I often find I spend most of my time travelling and in meetings and increasingly spending less time actually designing the collection. I have recently taken on an assistant designer and that is helping to spread the load!

What do you love about this job & why is it so fabulous?
I love the fact everyday is different and I have control over my working day.

Is it as glamorous as it sounds being a designer?
Absolutely not!!! There are always great perks but the travelling and long days are exhausting and I regularly miss social invites as I am away!

Designer's Inspirational sketches for SS12 via

Do you design digitally or the old school way, sketches by hand?
The brand I work for favour the old school sketching by hand which works for me as I am definitely not an illustrator girl. I still illustrate my designs on the figure as I think it is really important to think about how they will move when worn.

When designing a range/collection, are you very aware of the competition and what's out there? Do you design with the The brands signature style in mind? What's going through your mind when creating something?
I am very aware of price points and what is happening in the market. I work on a second line and I think you have to be to make a collection successful as what retails well is often not the obvious! I have to make sure everything works for the brand identity but I am always informed by price/manufacturing constraints etc as well as wanting to create something new.

How 'hands on' are you in terms of overseeing samples get made to the final product being manufactured?

Very! See above, I am involved through to production sealer samples.

Emma Cooks research mood board, via Nowness

What piece have you been most proud of that you designed & have you seen anyone in anything that you specifically designed?

It is often the pieces you don't want to see! Amy Winehouse was photographed in one of her famous court appearances in a piece I had designed which greatly amused me and the rest of the team!!!

Have you travelled anywhere exciting with this job?

I travel quite a lot, mainly Tokyo, Hong Kong, China, Paris, Portugal and across the UK!

What's not so great about this job?

The fact I work on a whole collection which includes all product areas.

What do you do to get inspired when you have those blah days?

Sometimes you just have those days and you have to step away for a few hours! If not, I wander round Portobello followed by Dover Street or liberty!

Which trade shows, prediction fairs, fabric fairs etc do you visit/go to regularly?

PV Paris.
(Première Vision - World's leading fabric & textiles fair held twice a year - I remember those horrid 4am starts to get to the Eurostar then having to spend all day concentrating on fabrics then catching last train back to London - tiring stuff!)

What (technical) skills are required to be a great Designer?

I think you have to know how things go together and have a wide knowledge of machinery and finishes. I don't think you can expect a good product at the end if you do not have a good idea how the process is achieved. The best designers I have ever met are technically very gifted too.

What's the career path like (Education - courses you took, work experience & training to get to where you are now)?

I did an art foundation followed by a BA at Kingston University in Fashion Design. From there I had several roles as design assistants at luxury brands in London before landing this role.

How did you find your dream job as a Designer?
Through an agency. Design jobs only tend to get filled through design agencies or word of mouth!

Would you ever like to set up & launch your own label in the future?

I don't think so. I think success is not always down to the amount of work you put in, especially when it comes to fashion, and I wouldn't want to risk everything for that. I also love working in a team so I would find it hard working on my own in the beginning.

beautiful illustration by Elisa Mazzone

What advice & what do you have to say to the next ambitious graduates or anyone, particularly for those hoping to follow in your footsteps as a designer?
Think about why you want to work in fashion. It can be incredibly rewarding but it is also relentless and cut throat. It is not the glamourous lifestyle most assume. You have to love clothes but more importantly the mechanics of how they work.

Huge thank you to Tanya for sharing this with us!
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