Back in 2009, after I graduated from university, all bright-eyed and bushy tailed, I moved down to London to gain some experience within the fashion industry. I managed to land myself a placement at Christopher Kane.
I really enjoyed the experience (minus the unpaid part) In total, there were around ten other interns. We literally spent all our time in the studio, as we got closer to London Fashion Week, we later we would stay. All my evenings, early mornings and weekends were spent in their East London studio but it didn't phase me - I made some really good friends whilst working for an incredible designer.
In terms of technical skills, I learnt so much more in six months than I did during my three years in university. My education gave me a good introduction to certain aspects of construction and pattern cutting but when I went into the industry, my knowledge seemed heavily diluted.
We had a lot of samples to make varying in different fabrics, and as a result, I am confident in cutting and sewing a variety of fabrics from silks, chiffon and georgette to leather.
Obviously there is a downside to interning in high fashion. No pay and long hours is the main killer. When i was interning there were talks about the laws in unpaid work - how long can you have someone interning before they become an employee? Nowadays, there are apprenticeship schemes, even in fashion. I've seen a few of these schemes offered at a few high-end studios in London, apprenticeships don't pay a lot but at least it's something and it's a start for the fashion industry not to exploit their workers.
I would recommend any fashion student or graduate to try and get a placement within a high fashion company - the hours will be long, you won't have a social life, your fingers will bleed and you will cry - but the skills you develop are invaluable, especially if you decide to stay within a studio environment.