In this blog, tutor and professional fashion designer Patricia Gomes tells what got her interested in fashion design, why she enjoys passing her knowledge and passion to her students and shares her professional advice.
Tell us a little about your career/education or progression within the industry.
I developed my career designing for children. I started in 1993, working as a graphic designer for a children’s brand and progressed to designing garments. Working with children allowed me to experiment with color and exercise my creativity. Furthermore, it required extra attention to materials and comfort, so I learned a lot about fabrics and garment construction.
I also worked at designing printings, a job that I really enjoyed, and as a buyer. These multiple roles gave me the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the industry as a whole.
What were you doing before you started tutoring at the Academy?
I took a year to dedicate myself to my Master’s degree in Design and Marketing of Textile Products. I took some time to study and develop my skills and academic credentials.
What got you interested in fashion design?
My interest in fashion started when I was really young, around five or six years old. I was hugely influenced by my grandmother. She was a skilled seamstress, and I was fascinated by her world. When she was on her sewing machine, I was always around, playing with her fabrics, patterns, fashion magazines, etc., trying to convince her to teach me and help me make clothes for my dolls. I learned a lot by observing (and disturbing) her work.
What do you enjoy most about being a fashion designer/teaching fashion design?
I love being surprised by the creativity and talent of my students and by their fresh and unique ideas. I also enjoy witnessing their progress and development, their growth as professionals. I have worked in the industry for a long time, but I only found joy when I started teaching.
What fashion design styles do you lean towards?
I am not drawn to a particular style. What moves me is the artisanal work and the craftsmanship involved in fashion. I love to observe the details, those intricate works that take days to be completed. Looking at images of the latest runway shows, my eyes are immediately drawn to the materials and how they are manipulated and transformed. I am also passionate about colors and printings.
Do you think there are must-have skills for fashion designers? If so, which do you believe are relevant for the industry?
I believe fashion is in the middle of a much-needed revolution, where we are all reviewing its standards and practices. Fashion designers need to consider diversity, inclusivity, sustainability and circularity when doing their work. It is impossible to continue working without considering the environment and people’s well-being. It is not possible to exclude consumers or perpetuate prejudices anymore. We need to be the change that we want to see. I am pleased when I see a new mindset in my students. It gives me hope!
Do you have any funny or peculiar fashion design experiences you would like to share? And what did you learn from that?
When I worked with kids, one of my tasks was to test the fit of the first samples on small children. It was a really hard job because they did not keep still, and they hated to change clothes, so I needed a lot of patience to get the job done.
Working backstage at fashion shows with them was also a trial. Kids just want to be kids, so keeping them in line was quite challenging.
What is for you the worst fashion trend?
Fashion is all about cycles, so everything comes back, revamped, revised, and that’s good. However, since I was a teenager in the 1980s, I cringe when I see any attempt at reviving those looks now. All the volume, the padded shoulders, the bubble skirts, the hair, the excessive make-up... I can’t understand how people could go back to that…
If you could spend a day with any fashion designer, dead or alive, who would that be and why?
Cristóbal Balenciaga for sure. I love his work! The way he experimented with shapes and with garment construction is fascinating. He was a true master with incredible technical skills, so having the opportunity to spend a day with him and see him working would be a real “dream come true” moment.
Nina de Voe in Balenciaga - Photo: Condé Nast Archive; Cristobal Balenciaga - Photo: Bettman/CORBIS; Bettina - Photo: Condé Nast Archive.
What advice would you give to someone who is looking to start their own fashion design business/career?
Be as sustainable as you can be. Look for ways to incorporate sustainable materials, practices, and processes in your designs, business, and daily work. Fashion needs to decrease its impact on the planet, and this change starts with each one of us.
Patricia Gomes holds an MBA in Retail Marketing and a BA in Costume Design and Fashion History. She has been working in the fashion industry for the past 25 years and has been teaching for almost 10 years. Passionate about fashion and tutoring, Patricia is currently doing an MA in Design and Marketing for Fashion Products.
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