Alumni, Alice McPhail Lands Leather Designer Role at Asprey, London
Ex-student Alice McPhail studied Extended Diploma Fashion Design with us, graduating in 2013. She has since been granted a First Class Honours Degree from University of the Arts London, interned with the likes of Giles Deacon, Roksanda and ultimately landed the role of Designer and Product Developer for Leather Goods at Asprey, London. We grabbed a chat with her to see how she’s been doing since she left!
How did your time studying Extended Diploma in Fashion Design set you up for your future ventures?
ED Fashion gave me a great grounding in all areas of the fashion industry. Before I started the course, I didn’t realise how many different avenues the subject could take me down so it was a real eye opener to see how broad the industry is. My tutor Stephen White was particularly great as his enthusiasm was so contagious! Similarly to the other tutors, he had years of valuable experience within the industry which he engaged us with constantly.
How do you feel studying at an art college helped you in your career rather than heading to a sixth form?
Going to art college was without doubt the best decision for me. The thought of getting into a creative industry didn’t feel attainable until I found The Northern School of Art. The course built me up with a focused body of work which would be my stepping stone into higher education and the career path I’d always hoped for. I don’t think I would have felt half as inspired and supported anywhere else.
What did you enjoy about your time with us?
I enjoyed focusing full time on a subject that I loved and having the freedom to learn and experiment following our own direction. I miss being in a big community of all types of creatives. The Northern School of Art had a fun atmosphere as it is such a mixed bag of people.
Please can you tell us what you’ve been up to since you left us!?
After The Northern School of Art, I went to London College of Fashion, UAL to do their Fashion Design and Development course. During my time there I interned for KTZ, Christopher Raeburn, Roksanda and Giles Deacon. After graduating, I started at a luxury childrenswear brand as a production and fabrication assistant. However, I really wanted to pursue design and moved onto Asprey as a Design assistant for maternity cover. I was fortunate enough to be offered a full time role as a Designer and Product Developer for Leather Goods at the end!
Can you tell us a little bit about your day to day role at Asprey?
The Asprey leather department works on men’s and ladies’ leather goods, alongside homeware and luggage. I am often looking for ideas for the next collection, finding imagery to inspire new decoration and leather fabrication techniques. Most days we will receive samples, so we will provide feedback and make specification sheets so our supplier can make the necessary improvements. Our department also takes on special bespoke orders, sometimes asking for interesting or obscure items we haven’t made before, so I spend a lot of time finding solutions for our clients to meet their requests. I want to keep working hard at Asprey. I am surrounded by lots of talented people there, so I want to soak up their knowledge and sharpen my skills!
What’s been the standout moment in your career so far?
I enjoyed seeing outside interest in my graduate collection; it was really exciting to send off my graduate collection to different stylists. In particular, it was fun to see it featured in an instillation video by Soomi Park, an artist in residence at the Design Museum in Kensington; I often visit the gallery and never expected to see my own work in there!
What has been surprising about your work in fashion?
People are nicer than you would expect, the stereotype is not always accurate!
What’s your favourite thing about your job?
My job makes me feel happy and achieved because I genuinely enjoy what I am doing- it doesn’t feel like work. I feel very lucky!
What advice would you give one of our students looking to follow in your footsteps?
Be prepared to knuckle down and work really hard, I promise those years will pay off!