BA (Hons) Printed Textile Design & Surface Pattern students welcomed Claire Parlby, Pre-degree graduate and print room manager for Zandra Rhodes, for a talk about her role with a focus on the pace and diversity of working for a major fashion brand.
Claire runs the in-house hand screenprinting studio at Zandra Rhodes, managing printing production, sampling and development for the atelier, and communicating with Zandra and the design and production team to develop colour and print combinations for collections and private orders.
Dame Zandra Rhodes headed the new wave of British designers who put London at the forefront of international fashion in the 1970s. Rhodes' garments are unmistakable; bold, dynamic, colorful and feminine. Her innovative approach to garment construction can be seen in her use of printed fabric dictating garment shapes, reverse exposed seams and stylistic use of jeweled safety pins and tears during the punk era. She has stamped her identity on the international world of fashion with her spectacular pink hair, theatrical makeup and art jewelry.
During her visit, Claire also interviewed a selection of students for a limited number of six-week internship placements at the Zandra Rhodes studio. One of the students selected for an internship opportunity was Ruby Francis, who is currently in her second year of studies.
Emma Gribble, Lecturer in BA (Hons) Printed Textile Design & Surface Pattern, said "It is essential that we expose our students to industry as much as possible. Experience of the pace, trend development and working within a professional environment is really important when entering the design industry."
“I feel like my eyes have been opened to all the future possibilities of jobs and careers, this experience has almost lit a spark of determination.” – Ruby Francis, BA (Hons) Printed Textile Design & Surface Pattern student
Speaking of the experience, Ruby describes the feeling of finding out she had been awarded the placement, “I was absolutely ecstatic. I was extremely nervous about moving to London for six weeks but also very excited about everything I was going to learn. Everyone was extremely nice and helpful when I moved in, which made settling in at Zandra's London penthouse apartment really easy.
“Each day we would either be working on private client orders or sampling for new Zandra Rhodes collections. My main role is to help print but also set up the studio, wash the screens in the wash-out bath, mix colours, find screens etc. It has been incredible learning these skills to such a high standard, that I can take back to uni and use within my own practice.
“I then use the studio after-hours to work on my degree projects, I feel I’m at an advantage as I’m drawing inspiration from exhibitions such as the Fashion and Textile Museum and Tate Modern, which are so close to visit while I’m in London.
“The team at Zandra Rhodes are so inspirational, it shows me the possibilities that are available and the type of atmosphere I can be in. I am so excited to get back into the studio and put my skills to use.”
Claire Parlby started her creative journey in Plymouth, achieving a Foundation Diploma in Art & Design from Plymouth College of Art, before joining retail giant H&M as a print design assistant and then going on to work at Lara Gorlach and Zandra Rhodes studios.
She commented, “It was really inspiring to visit the college again where I first learned to screen print 9 years ago, and see all the amazing new facilities. I think it's important to maintain industry and student links, to inform students of possible career paths and keep young talent flowing through the industry.
“Internships transfer skills and knowledge that wouldn't necessarily be gained in education, they provide great insight into the industry and infrastructure of creative businesses.”