Setu Shah

Image of Setu Shah outside London College of Fashion.

Setu studied the Graduate Diploma Fashion Media Styling at LCF and tells us about her experiences at LCF, the challenges she faced and skills she gained.

Could you introduce yourself and your current role? 

I’m Setu and I’m from India. I studied my BA in Fashion Design and worked in India before studying at LCF. Apart from being a fashion stylist, I am also a fashion illustrator and designer. My current role – I am a freelance fashion and costume stylist.

How did you find FMS at LCF?

It was very challenging, and a great learning experience. The course teaches you all aspects and factors that go into image making; from conceptualising and rationalising, directing, producing, gathering the right team and ensuring correct execution of the idea. There was immense personal and professional growth, and I am very pleased with my journey.

Why did you choose to study at LCF?

LCF is a highly reputed college in the fashion industry and has limitless resources and opportunities. Hence why it was always a top choice for me. While doing research into courses, FMS was one of the few courses available at a postgraduate level specifically made for fashion styling that specialised in image making.

What skills did you learn and are using now?

I understood the importance of intensive research; that is the key to a successful campaign. The course required us to collaborate with photographers, make up artists, designers, models and modelling agencies, which helped me build my network extensively and improved my public relations, which is mandatory in our field. I am much more confident now and find it easy to approach new people!

How did you find the teaching?

The teaching was a good blend of guided and self-directed study. We had many one-on-one sessions with our professors where we would discuss projects and seek advice. Ultimately all decisions were ours, which is required at a postgraduate level.

What are you up to now?

I am a freelance fashion and costume stylist and specialise in commercial advertisement campaigns (print and audio visuals).

How did you get to where you are today?

My journey started with studying Apparel Manufacture and Design. I was a junior designer at a design house for a few months. I moved on to assisting about 4-5 stylists for a period of 2 years after which I was a Head of Department and started working independently as a stylist for a year and a half. I felt the need to explore image making and decided to study Fashion Media Styling at LCF. My design background has helped me immensely as a stylist as I understand the technical aspects behind clothing and trends better. It has taken years of learning to get where I am today, and a field like fashion requires you to constantly update your skill set.

What were your biggest challenges along the way?

My biggest challenge was always research. Studying at LCF helped me in a big way and has improved my understanding of what research entails and how to go about it, and apply it to your project.

Tell us about an average day at your job?

Since I am a freelancer, no two days are the same. At the beginning of a project I am mainly researching and meeting with the client discussing the look. Prep days before a shoot can be quite hectic as I am all over the place looking for very specific items. Each project I do is so different from the other that it sends me to far ends of the city! To ensure smooth running of things on the shoot we have trials in advance so shoot days are easier than prep sometimes. It is a very fast paced industry and you are usually working on multiple projects at the same time, but I also find it very rewarding.

How would you define your own style?

My style would be utilitarian chic! I work long hours and comfort is extremely important. Less is more, I like my look to be clean with minimal accessorising.
My motto is to buy less, and choose well. In a world where high street fashion is quite easily accessible and affordable, you have way too many choices and can get carried away. It is important to keep up with current trends but always ensure that you customise them to compliment your body type and your personal sense of style.

What is your top tip for people who want to get into roles like yours?

My top tip would be what Diana (our course leader) once told us – Do not fear rejection. A stylist must have great communication skills and will constantly need to collaborate. It will require you to approach new people on a daily basis, and you must do so with full confidence.

Secondly, a stylist must be able to adapt and improvise. There are many things that can go wrong on a shoot, so you must be able to adapt to the situation and do the best you can with the resources you have.
A failed shoot here and there is a part of the learning process, and must never deter you from experimenting and taking risks.