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Meet: Sidonie Sandrine

Sidonie Sandrine hasn’t looked back since graduating with a BA (Hons) in Fashion Management from London College of Fashion in 2005. Ten years on, she has gone on to set up a successful e-commerce website Froufrou Boudoir, as well as build and grow a successful fashion and styling agency  ‘Style By Definition’. Read more about Sidonie’s journey, from realising that she had to follow her passion for fashion, to making it on her own…

Sidonie Sandrine

Sidonie Sandrine

While in my second year at the University of Westminster studying a BA in Tourism Planning and Management, I met a group of students from LCF at an event, and after that encounter I knew that I had to follow my heart in to the world of Fashion.  I applied for the BA in Fashion Management and got accepted. In 2005, after three years, I graduated with a BA (Hons) in Fashion Management with my main pathway being buying and merchandising. The rest is history. 

I had an amazing time at LCF, it was easier to be myself in the fashion environment, and I was lucky enough to meet good people with whom I forged great friendships, which are still standing. We created our own ‘Post-LCF’ family, and it is humbling to look at my friends and to see what we’ve all achieved; professionally and privately.

My highlights were without a doubt the lecturers, who were inspiring and passionate. I was lucky enough to get some very insightful advice from two of my lecturers. Even the modules that I did not enjoy ended up being exciting simply because they provided me with that real window I needed in order to start understanding how exciting and complex the fashion industry is.

One thing for sure is that my degree from LCF has helped make the process of pitching for work and appealing to new clients easier. I did not realise that until many clients and potential business collaborators pointed it out to me.  It proves that investing in your education at a renowned institution really pays off later in life.

Sidonie at work

The key after graduation is not to take a job that isn’t related to your industry, because that will push you further away to your dream.

Be yourself and attend as many interviews as possible. Channel your passion and enthusiasm into each and every opportunity you get. We only get one shot and sometimes that chance comes only once, so make sure you are always ready. Do unpaid work experience and pretend it is paid.  And take a risk; you never know who may be watching or asking who the new intern is…

I have been running my fashion and styling agency for the past five years now.  I started out as a freelance stylist but then I decided to work under my own terms.  I was only interested in promoting my styling services to the average men and women who don’t realise they can afford the services of a personal stylist without having to break their bank balance.

To change someone’s mind about a misconceived idea is what excited me the most! My niche target is the average and middle-class person. I feel very privileged to share personal experiences with my clients who are from different cultures, background and professions.

I registered my limited company in April 2010, and Style By Definition, my Fashion and styling agency was born. In 2012 I added a new venture – a lingerie eCommerce site called Froufrou Boudoir. This was a project that I wanted to undertake because my husband and I were starting to talk about having a family, and I believed that an Ecommerce business would enable me to earn money while on maternity leave.  However, before my daughter was born in January 2014, I also added the wholesale market fashion sales services to my agency.  This enables me to act as brand agent in the UK to designers and companies, advise, and introduce exciting emerging and established international fashion brands not yet here in the UK.


Ioanna Kourbela Basics Collection

Ioanna Kourbela Basics Collection

I am extremely excited at the moment with the new brand I am representing IOANNA KOURBELA – BASICS. The collection consists of off duty pieces and statement and classics separates made from high quality materials.  It’s affordable and refreshingly stylish.  Sidonie will be presenting the IOANNA KOURBELA ” BASICS” AW 16-17 collection by Appointment only from her showroom the 1st of February to the 19th March 2016, and will also be showing at Pure London from 14 – 16 February 2016.

I am either a big fool or simply a huge risk taker and a born entrepreneur.  Otherwise why would anyone choose the hard way of earning money rather than working for a company with guaranteed income and all the benefits? I suppose I am a sucker for making it on my own and getting direct credit for my hard work, something that I feel extremely blessed to be able to do.


Meet: Nomoi & Tim Smart, a UAL Alumni Collaboration

Robert Burr, MA Strategic Fashion Marketing 2011 at London College of Fashion and Tim Smart, MA Illustration 2013, Camberwell College of Art met through UAL’s ShowTime website, when Rob wanted to find an illustrator to collaborate with for his menswear brand, NOMOI. A year later they have just launched a line of T-shirts, all hand printed in London, featuring Tim’s illustrations.

We met with Tim and Rob to talk about how the collaboration came about, and how it has benefitted them in ways they didn’t expect…

Rob and Tim

Rob Burr (left) and Tim Smart (right) wearing a NOMOI & Tim Smart T-Shirt

What made you both want to study at UAL?

Rob: I have always been very fond of clothing and fashion growing up, I wanted to do something that was really focussed on my own interests, so I applied to do an MA in Strategic Fashion marketing at LCF.

LCF and UAL’s brand precedes them, and I was really thrilled to be offered a place, as it was my first choice.

I really enjoyed the course. I had never studied fashion before, and so everything was new and really exciting for me. An element of the course was also in partnership with the London Business School, which was a fantastic experience. I couldn’t speak highly enough of the course, I had a great time.

The reason I did the course was because my ultimate goal was to set up my own brand, and I have been working towards the position I am in ever since I finished my undergrad.  I started the brand when I was working at Pentland Brands. I began to write a business plan and figure out what the brand stood for. I had always worked within clothing and I wanted to create something that was not necessarily focussed on trends, but was more timeless in its approach.  I wanted to produce the garments locally, with a bit of honesty and soul. All the materials are sourced from Britain and Europe.

I launched the brand with a small but concise collection in early 2014. The clothes are based on timeless classics but with a little bit of individuality. What started as 3 pieces has grown and will continue to do so.  New products are added to the collection as and when, but I currently have around 20 pieces. It’s still small but growing steadily with everything currently sold through the NOMOI website.

Stargazing White

‘Stargazing’ T-Shirt, part of the NOMOI & Tim Smart collection

Tim: I spent a year after my BA in Illustration not really knowing what to do, and so I don’t feel like it was a conscious decision to apply, it was more something on my mind that I wanted to do at some point in the future. But I remember meeting Jan Woolley, the course director at the open day and instantly knowing I was doing the right thing.

I did the course part time over two years while I was working full time, which was quite difficult. But it was absolutely the right way to do it for me. I had the benefit of meeting two entirely different year groups (three if you consider there were part-timers in their second year), so I now have double the friends I would have had if I’d done a single year. I feel as though I was just as productive as the people on my course who were studying full time and not working – having a limited time allowed me to be more focussed.

I was living in Hackney, and so there were days when I wouldn’t go in because I didn’t have to, I wish I’d spent a bit more time going into the campus and using that resource.

I went to Japan towards the end of my second year as a part of the UAL’s international residency program. Someone from the previous year’s cohort had gone and told me what an amazing time they’d had, and so I decided it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I was there for almost a month and spent a lot of time on my own, which was very new for me as I’m quite a social person.  I spent pretty much every day cycling around Tokyo with little scraps of paper. I’d bought with me some of the paper that I was working on, and as the time went by I kept using the paper, I had to cut it up into smaller and smaller pieces so that I didn’t run out of materials to work with. Because of this, my drawings became much smaller. I had always worked on a relatively large scale, so it was a major shift in how I worked, which was forced by the circumstances. Also, I had to have everything I needed on my person rather than having access to a studio’s worth of materials, it definitely helped me. You can fall into habits when you’re sat at your desk and actually going out and about and doing stuff really helped shake things up.

The first thing I did when I graduated was to quit my job (I was selling furniture at Habitat during my degree).  I got a job for Wholefoods market, as their graphic artist. I now do that four days a week, and then spend a couple of days focused on my own illustration projects.  I have always been choosy about what I spend my time doing; I am not focussed on trying to make it work commercially right away, it just needs to be really fun.

Conga, by Tim Smart

Conga, by Tim Smart

How did your collaboration come about?

Rob: I am always looking for ways to introduce the brand to like-minded customers; a nice t-shirt didn’t currently feature in the range so it made sense to have something.  I also wanted to do something with a point of difference and a reason behind it, I started exploring illustration and I finally found Tim on UAL’s ShowTime.  One of the things that took me about Tim’s work is that it had a human element to it, it was quite real in a way, and it is also quite fun as well.

Tim: Rob got in touch with me and said that he wanted an element of storytelling and something that expressed some of the ethics of the brand.  The whole process was kind of a casual back and forth where I would sketch some ideas and we’d meet up and talk about them and I’d go away and work on them a bit more. It was a really nice process.

From the beginning Rob was really honest and open about not knowing how we were going to manage the collaboration, but we were both happy to just go with it and see how it worked out. This is quite an unusual approach – most people would come with a certain agenda. Rob did come with certain ideas that he wanted to express but I felt like he wanted for me to have creative freedom. I didn’t feel like I was hired as a freelancer to hash out Rob’s ideas; it was a partnership and collaboration. I had never experienced that before.

Even though Rob said from the beginning that he wanted it to be collaboration throughout, I didn’t anticipate that I would be so involved all throughout the process and that it would be a long term thing. It has been a really valuable experience being involved all the way through.

What are the main benefits you found through your collaboration?

Tim: One of the biggest benefits of collaboration is that you gain all this new experience and insight that you don’t expect. I really enjoyed it, which has been the main thing. I choose what I do because I enjoy it. To work on something that is a joy to do really is the main thing.

Rob: When you work with other people, whatever comes out is always going to be greater than what you could have produced alone.  Also it gives you a new perspective on what you’re doing – much more than I had realised.

Tim wearing a T-shirt from the collection

Tim wearing a T-shirt from the collection

Advice to other alumni wanting to collaborate:

  • Do your research
  • Approach it gradually – our collaboration felt right from the first couple of meetings, but that won’t always be the case
  • Go into it with an open mind, but also trust your gut and your instincts
  • Be structured
  • Acknowledge that it might go wrong, but there will still be things you will learn from it

The t-shirts are now live on the website to buy now!


Rob and Tim will be speaking at the upcoming alumni event ‘Meet your new business partner’ on Wednesday 18 November, at Blueprint Bar, 272 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EW from 6pm.  The event is free for all UAL alumni and students, and you can register here.




Meet: RIXO

Orlagh McCloskey and Henrietta Rix both studied BA Fashion Management at the London College of Fashion. After working on a project together they hit it off and decided to go into business together.  Now, a year later, they have just launched their own Womenswear contemporary label, RIXO, a strong British take on vintage creating wearable flattering shapes for women of all ages.  We met with Henrietta and Orlagh to find out how their journey from the classroom to the boardroom…

Henrietta and Orlagh

Henrietta and Orlagh

What made you want to study at LCF?

Orlagh: There was no one from where I’m from who had ever been to LCF; it was definitely the name and the reputation that drew me to study there.

Henrietta: I found three courses I was interested in – one in Manchester, one in Westminster and one at LCF – I knew I wanted to come to London, and was torn between the campus-feel of Westminster and being in the centre of London with London College of Fashion.  One of my friends had done the course at LCF and recommended it to me, she said the connections that you gain through LCF, being in the centre of London and the reputation makes it stand out.

How did you adjust to life in London?

H: In my first year I found it hard as I didn’t know that many people and I wasn’t used to it, but it does make you stronger as a person definitely.

O: When you’re at a campus Uni you don’t get that taste of what living in London is actually like, you’re in the campus bubble. LCF helps you adjust to getting a job after and the London lifestyle, because you’re already used to it.

It takes a year to find your friends, it took longer than I expected – you meet people in class but it takes a while to forge the relationships after class… 

Part of the first collection

Part of the first collection

What were the highlights of your time at LCF?

All the modules had a commercial side with real life situations, not necessarily all design – we were always grounded in the reality of the industry, and what’s going on 24/7.

When did you decide you wanted to work together?

We did a consultancy project together where we had to go out into industry and find a company to be consultants for. We found Anne’s Podium by going round loads of studios and knocking on doors in East London. She opened it and agreed to take us on. We worked really closely on that and realised how well we worked together.  We had the same sort of attitude and approached work in the same way.

We then both went on the placement years. We decided to do the year in industry to get some contacts and experience, and as soon as we finished we could start the business!

Tell us more about RIXO

We’ve always been obsessed with going to vintage fairs and finding timeless pieces, and we were thinking more and more about how the high street is commercial and saturated – you can go in to Zara and everyone will be wearing the same top as you, and we were getting sick of that.  We saw a gap in the market for the entry level contemporary price point and our concept.  Our customer is someone who would go into Zara, but it willing to spend a bit more for something that is timeless and not trend-driven…

 Short black dress

How do you switch off and relax?

It’s not a 9-5 job, we are constantly thinking about the brand, reading stuff, looking at competitors. We don’t ever switch off.

O: This morning I dreamt that our development samples were getting mixed up and I woke up in a sweat. We constantly have to check with each other whether we’ve had the conversations or just dreamt them!

H: I’ll wake up in the morning and it will be as if I haven’t seen Orlagh in a week, I’ve got so many new ideas and things to talk about.

You have to have the drive and ambition, which we both have. We can’t have doubts. We are realistic and have plan B’s but you HAVE to be positive and believe in it. There’s no way that both of us would give up our income living in London and be putting our own personal finding into it if we didn’t think it was going to work. We have to be REALLY self-motivated. We can’t wait to get up in the morning and start working on things.

Do you do the designs yourself?

We design everything and hand-paint all our prints in our kitchen.  We’ve had help from family and friends with design and Photoshop.  You have to have your finger in every pie and work out what you can do yourselves to get costs down. If you don’t know something there’s so much information available at your fingertips to learn.  For example, we know we can paint a print, but actually getting it on to a dress is a different matter altogether.   We have taught ourselves lots of new techniques.

We also designed the branding/website/logo – we have a clear and strong idea of how we want everything to look. We wanted to do it ourselves as we had the vision in our heads. That helped with the development process as we were able to be really clear on what we wanted. Our e-commerce website is launching now! 

How has your degree at LCF helped you with your ventures?

One of the most impotatnt things we learnt on the course at LCF, and from working in industry is being really aware of your cash flow – a lot of designers struggle with this.  For example, a lot of on-line retailers don’t pay on delivery, they pay 120 days later, so you have to bear that in mind when working out how much you can afford.

The experience we got on the course and the year in industry also gave us the contacts to be able to trust the suppliers we are using now. If you have a supplier who you’ve worked with and you trust it gives you the confidence to deliver what you’ve promised, which is crucial to your reputation.

We’ve also subsequently worked with loads of UAL alumni, and through that met loads of crucial new contacts. So many of the people on our course are working in the industry, it’s been really good to have friends who can put you in touch with people, it’s helped a lot!

Skirt and blouse

What have been the highlights so far of setting up the label?

Seeing our name in the label in the back of a dress is an amazing feeling.  Also, we’ve started to get some really good press coverage – so when we see our dress in Red magazine, or the telegraph and Grazia are featuring us during London fashion week, it’s unbelievable.

H: My dad bought a 100 copies of the telegraph when we were in it! 

What’s next for RIXO? 

We are currently selling at three boutiques in London; Wolf and Badger, Bar and Bass and a pop-up in Soho.

Our plan for the immediate future is to launch the website and get our first collection going and then we are planning on rolling the collections – we always want to be adding new things every couple of weeks. We also want to work on getting more press and get noticed.

Orlagh and Henrietta’s Top Tips for setting up your own brand;  

  1. Meet people face-to-face – this has been one of the most important things we’ve done. When you’re starting out people are much more likely to help you out if you’ve met them in person.
  2. You never know when you’re going to work with someone in the future – so it’s really important to keep up good relationships from all your jobs because it’s such a small industry.
  3. If you can, don’t go it alone – We would find it so hard by ourselves, a partner will help you stay motivated. But is is so important that it’s the right person too; someone who you have the same attitude and aesthetic vision as.
  4. Be really flexible and able to take opportunities as and when they come – don’t be stuck and rigid. If a colour comes back slightly different than we imagined but it still looks good, there’s no point in being difficult about it. In the long run that won’t help anyone.
  5. Be nice to everyone! At the end of the day everyone is just doing their job…






Meet: Valerie Goode

Valerie Goode (Design Pattern Cut Womenswear at London College of Fashion) launched her ethical womenswear brand Kitty Ferreira, after working for a year in mainstream fashion in China, and witnessing the pollution created by the industry…

Valerie Goode

Valerie Goode

What made you decide to study at London College of Fashion?
I am a born and bred Londoner, so London College of Fashion always had a special appeal to me.

What was the best thing LCF taught you? And did it help you prepare for life after?
I think we’re more commercially and technically minded than our Central Saint Martins cousins, so naturally that helped in the world of fashion business. It certainly helped to lay the foundations of my own business, understanding product development and generally knowing that I’d be doing less designing and more business administrative work.

What’s your favourite thing about London? And your favourite thing to do here?
London is a culturally rich city; so cosmopolitan that no other city in the world comes close. I love that I can easily experience different cultures either through foods, dance or simply meeting people; and then there’s the freedom to express yourself creatively through clothing, and nobody bats an eyelid.

My favourite thing to do in London is to experience dance from different cultures, from belly dancing or Kizomba to Salsa.

What inspired you to move towards ethical fashion?
I studied a continual professional development course at LCF in Supply Chain Management and Marketing which focused on sustainability, and was a real eye-opener. At the time I had been working as a designer for high street suppliers so didn’t think much of it in terms of it affecting my career. It wasn’t until I worked as a Senior Designer in China, a few years later, that it kicked in; witnessing the thick air pollution, I returned to the UK knowing that I needed to do things differently.

I started to look at more natural lifestyles, with my Caribbean late grandmother (whom the label is named after) being the first inspiration. I found she was upcycling long before it became a fashionable term.

A selection from Kitty Ferreira's  award-winning collection

A selection from Kitty Ferreira’s award-winning collection

What were the greatest challenges you have faced in sustainable fashion? And what have you learnt from them?
The initial challenge was sourcing and setting up my supply chain, as all the contacts I had made throughout my career over the last 10 years had become obsolete.

Secondly, communicating the ethical and sustainable message without sounding like a tree hugging hippy. Fortunately, I had decided quite early on that my brand would juxtapose city-chic with the natural world. I think Lucy Siegle from The Guardian has succinctly described the aesthetic of my brand the best in her latest article: “Goode makes clothes that are for boardroom activists rather than penniless heroes that climb up cooling towers…”

What does the future have in store for Kitty Ferreira?
The brand has won a couple of awards from the Royal College of Art and from, so we’re working through being mentored by them as well as by the team at the Centre for Sustainable Fashion. The long term vision is to develop the brand into a rival of non sustainable high street stores.

What advice would you give for any students and alumni interested in focussing more on sustainable fashion?
Sustainable fashion shouldn’t be about a fad nor trend, rather I approach it as a way of life and mind-set, practiced in a non-contrived manner by an older generation and in particular by those who have not originated from the Western world. From this stand point you see how developments within a capitalist and consumer rich society have created ‘throw- away’ consumers whilst affecting other nations negatively. It’s a very deep subject matter that involves stripping back many layers to find the crux of the problem. The solution is neither clear cut, yet this is where the excitement lies- many innovations in fabric, product development and in supply chain management can be created here.


Check out Kitty Ferreria’s award winning collection

Find out more about Design Pattern Cut Womenswear at London College of Fashion


Professor Charlotte Hodes, LCF is featured in the forthcoming documentary

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Mirrors to Windows: The Artist as Woman

To be screened on 8 March 12:00, The Royal Academy

Charlotte Hodes, Professor in Fine Art, LCF, is featured in the forthcoming documentary ‘Mirrors to Windows: The Artist as Woman’ which will be screened on International Women’s Day at the Royal Academy on Sunday 8 March at noon. This is part of a programme of events to celebrate IWD at the RA that explore inter-generational perspectives on women in the arts.

Tickets and a ‘taster’ of the film

For more information:

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