Portrait of Francesca macari

Francesca Macari

Can you tell us a little bit about your background before you came to Leeds?

The reason that I decided to come to Leeds is because I could study a creative subject at an academic university. I thought that the University of Leeds was a great option because it offered a balance between writing essays and attending lectures, but also doing the subject that I love.

Has Fashion Design lived up to your expectations and what have you enjoyed most about the course?

I really enjoy the variety of the course.  I like the idea that I came here without any practical skills in terms of Photoshop and Illustrator, but now I have a grounding in it all and it’s such a realistic skill to have in the industry. That’s another reason that I wanted to come to Leeds, because of the focus towards industry and the Year in Industry Placement Programme.

What sort of projects are you working on at the moment?

Final year is different to first and second year, it’s quite independent and we only have three modules. In our fashion innovation module we create a project inspired by a brief which asks for something innovative and fashion led.

I’m doing something which uses tailoring. I want to look at modern methods, so taking different aspects of tailoring like seams, and replicating it using technology. The project is really about technique and there’s a lot of emphasis on skill and pattern cutting which I think is important to understand.

My dissertation is based on craftsmanship, so my studio practice links with my dissertation, which we are advised to do. I’m looking at craftsmanship, how we can replicate it, and if craftsmanship is relevant in the 21st century or if technology has taken over?

I’m enjoying all my modules and I think that first and second year build you up to final year where it’s very independent and you’re given more freedom. This helps you to develop with creativity and being innovative in the way you apply things.

How are you finding doing your dissertation?

I personally enjoy writing and think it’s a nice break between your design work because you’re using a different part of your brain. When you think about it, it’s not too much writing and it’s a good way to really define your writing skills whilst also using the research skills you’ve learnt from other areas.

What did you do for your Year in Industry placement?

I undertook three different placements. I did just under six months at luxury womenswear brand, Christopher Kane. We were sewing, pattern drafting, cutting patterns and doing errands. It was great because I was putting into practice the skills I had learned in first and second year, as well as learning new ones.

It was quite a small company, so you would help in different departments. I helped in the accessories department and I got to go to Italy twice to visit the factories.

I went to Harper’s Bazaar for around a month, helping in the fashion cupboard. I got to go to photo shoots and see everything that happened behind the scenes.

My final placement was a design placement with Jaeger for five months. At Jaeger I was assisting the design team. I would assist all six designers doing things like using Illustrator for spec drawings. I helped to pick fabrics and trends, went on photo shoots and did admin.

Has your time in industry changed the way you think and work now that you’re back at university?

It definitely has because it gives you a structure and a focus. You become less precious about your work and you have to be more decisive about things. The skills you learn on placement really improve how you work, even just down to things like time management.