Graduate Fashion Week is one of my favourite projects every year and it never fails to delight. The treasurer is my client, so my involvement stems from blogging about the gala award show. He takes me along because he knows I love the catwalk environment and the whole ambience, with outrageous garments displayed in crazy fabrics and bold splashes of colour, feathers, bright, dazzling designs, gorgeous creatures in weird and wonderful make-up and carefully chosen funky and seductive music. And, as it turned out, free pear cider.
But what I really love is the enthusiasm of the graduates as they step, not only onto the catwalk, but into the real world. The show is a bridge for budding designers as they leave university and embark on their career in the fashion world, and I can clearly remember that excitement of entering an industry that’s hankered over by so many.
It’s a long time since I worked in fashion, but it doesn’t seem more than five minutes since my interview in the temple otherwise known as Top Shop; its flagship store an iconic waypoint at the heart of Oxford Circus. In the 80s those offices served as the headquarters for the Burton Group, leaders in the UK fashion industry, and I walked into the HR department determined to walk out as an assistant buyer. I wasn’t a graduate then; my CV said I sold balloons. When Joan asked what experience I had of buying accessories I referred to my bedroom wardrobe – never daring to open the doors for fear of being buried alive under a collapsing pile of bags, belts, hats, shoes, scarves – all crammed untidily in and wedged in place by the slammed door. Nothings really changed, apart from now they have their own room…
Back then, we thought a career was for life. But the fun of beginning doesn’t have to end at 18 or 21. Through my training workshops I constantly meet people of all ages beginning new jobs, launching new careers, testing out new ideas. They change due to boredom, redundancy, not enjoying retirement, seeking more fun, more money, more prestige. The excitement of newness is contagious. Nothing beats the enthusiasm and passion of anticipated success. I switched careers almost 20 years ago, leaving the corporate world to set up in business. I had no inkling then of the fabulous people I would meet along the way or how many would turn to me for training support to help them become more successful.
Some of those amazing people are ex-servicemen and -women who left the forces due to horrendous injuries. They were forced to begin again in aspects of their life that, to most of us, is unimaginable. Creating new businesses despite their personal battles is truly inspirational and always deserving of a mention, but never more so than following the 70th anniversary of D Day. We’re all free to run our businesses and enjoy our lives thanks to the soldiers being remembered this week – and those that have followed into the services over the past seven decades. Thank you.
I posted on Facebook yesterday that it was 31 years since I passed my driving test and I could remember very clearly driving straight to college with the Thompson Twins singing In the name of love. (Gill reminded everyone that I never turned on my lights at night; thank heavens for today’s automatic controls!) Doesn’t time fly when you’re whizzing along a new motorway on your way to a fashion show?! As Tom, Joe and Allanah said, “Well it’s fun to think that I’m having the time of my life. And it’s true if all this around us is paradise.”
Social media’s all about sharing, and when I checked my blog stats for May I’d crossed the 100,000 hit mark!! Thank you so much for reading… if you like it, please share it. @WeekendWitch