One year ago BA (Hons) Fashion Design and Development alumna Marina Guasch Gonzalez was having nightmares about deadlines and dissertations. She ended up designing a beautiful collection acclaimed by many, including Vogue and Pigeons & Peacocks. Now she is preparing to return to Mexico having completed an internship at Victoria Beckham.
Marina had an unconventional route into a fashion education after completing her high school education at a German school in Mexico. Her entry point was a diploma and short course at London College of Fashion before starting her bachelors here. Marina was a finale in the Paul’s Boutique Print Competition 2015, and interned at Saks Fifth Avenue Mexico and as a designer for Proenza Schouler and Narciso Rodriguez, both New York.
Marina started a fabric development internship at Victoria Beckham last year but due to visa restrictions, she’s now returning back to Mexico to work as freelancer for Saks Fifth Avenue and assist in sustainable fashion events across Mexico. We recently spoke to Maria, read the interview below.
At what point in your life did you know you wanted a career in fashion?
This is embarrassing, but I knew from the moment I first watched fashion on TV. It was a Valentino show and it really struck a cord with me, after that I drew dresses for everyone at school.
You studied your diploma, BA and a short course at London College of Fashion. Did you always want to study here and move to London?
No, I applied to Parsons and SCAD in America. I got into all of them but LCF offered me a Foundation Diploma which allowed me to experiment with design alongside photography, styling and textiles. For me that was really important because I didn’t know what I wanted to do in fashion, and how many options there were for me. I think people don’t realise how many jobs the fashion world offers – it isn’t only design, but a series of really interesting tasks and positions that make a brand great.
What were the most interesting and challenging parts of studying BA (Hons) Fashion Design and Development?
I believe this particular BA is the most complete course in the university in regards to design. During my placement year I realised we had more useful and realistic skills that people from other courses didn’t have. While womenswear is more creative and is the right choice for some people, for me, it was really important to not only be good at design but understand how the whole cycle works and how to built a product or brand successfully. Having finished and had some experience within the industry, I can say with 100% certainty this course made me more employable and capable to face the industry.
After graduating you interned for Victoria Beckham, what was a normal day there like, did anything at LCF prepare you for it?
Every day was different but I was working for the fabric development team. I would oversee fabrics coming in and going out of the mills, quality checks, production handover, I also re-structured the way they archived their fabrics, swatches, documents & trims to make performance much more effective. I believe I was able to go above and beyond because of what I learned at LCF and also my placement year.
You came in third place at this year’s Paul’s Boutique Competition for your geometric print bags, congratulations. How did you find collaborating with them, did you learn anything new or surprising?
It was definitely and interesting experience. I’ve always been drawn towards prints and textures. I wanted to start gaining experience to hopefully be able to do more print design in the future. It was really stimulating as a designer to see a response, and the company was really supportive and kind throughout the whole process.
You were a design intern at Proenza Schouler and Narciso Rodriguez, both of New York. How did you find both places, is being an intern in NY as tricky as London?
I think being an intern in NY is even harder than in London. It was weeks and weeks of no days offs, long hours, a few hours of sleep and constant pressure but I LOVED IT! Proenza Schouler truly made a big impact on me as a designer. The long hours and extra days were not mandatory but it was that extra effort that enabled me to be noticed and have the opportunity to work not only with the design team but with the designers as well. I learned so much and I will be forever grateful to them!
You collaborated with emerging Canadian designer Andrew Coimbra last year. How did that collaboration come about, and what did you produce together?
Andrew and I became friends in NY, we both interned together in Proenza and became really good friends. We constantly bounced ideas off each other and he’s input made a huge difference. I think it’s important to have someone that helps you be better and is not afraid to give you constructive criticism. As for working together, Andrew was developing some prints but was not happy with the outcome so he asked me if I could design a few prints for him. I believe he’ll be using them in his next collection.
Reflecting back at your time at LCF, what advice would you give to anyone thinking about studying BA (Hons) Fashion Design and Development or wanting a career in design?
I think my advice would be work hard, be patient and always be kind. The first two years of my BA did not run smoothly at all. It wasn’t until after my placement year that everything came together and I started feeling more comfortable. I also had a different working attitude and that made a huge difference in my final year. And last but not least, always be kind because there will be people or situations you don’t like, but that is when a smile on your face and good attitude will make a huge difference. It will make people want to work for you.
Thinking ahead, where and what would you like to be doing in five year’s time, do you have a business strategy?
This is a hard question because I don’t know what I’ll be doing next month! But hopefully I’ll be doing more freelance and consultancy work, maybe have a small label or capsule collection.
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