The first term of first year involved an Illustration class and assignment, beginner pattern cutting and Critical and Contextual Studies (CCS), the academic portion of our program. We were set a project for the 1st term, the Little Black Lingerie Project where we were instructed to make whatever we want, preferably a bra and knicker set, which were to be in black.
This blog post came about as a request from Maria in New Zealand, who also loves to make lingerie. She asked more about the designs that I did at De Montfort University (DMU).
So, let me take you on a journey of the DMU Contour Fashion program…
The Contour Fashion program is the oldest of its kind, founded in 1947 to support the local corsetry industry. From the early 19th century to the end of the 20th century, main industries in Leicester were hosiery (covering many forms of clothing) as well as footwear – along with the engineering that supported these industries. There still is an industry in Leicester for textiles and clothing, but a considerable amount has now moved offshore.
Ok, so more about DMU now.
For the application process to DMU, all prospective students are invited to attend an interview day with the lecturers to show their portfolios. As an international student, this wasn’t required of me (well, the attending part!) but I did have to submit a portfolio, of which I posted online.
Once you’re accepted on the program, time flies by!! We were set a summer project where we had to purchase a 34B bra (industry sample size) and size 12 bottom and take them apart and reconstruct them. I had decided not to do this project until I actually arrived in Leicester. The results were both disastrous and hilarious. Thankfully, I don’t have any photos to show you!
Pattern cutting continued through the 2nd term, and included a new project, this time an external client project for H&M. We were to conduct market research and trend analysis to come up with a design we could imagine for sale at H&M. Other classes now included a CAD class where we were learning how to use Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, as well as a Dragon’s Den group project where we needed to present a new product for the intimate apparel industry.
Upon returning to Second Year, which we all can agree is the busiest year, we were promptly greeted by further CAD classes in both Photoshop and Illustrator, along with a specialist software class for Lectra Modaris pattern cutting. We also continued our pattern cutting classes which included both practical construction and technical pattern cutting and grading. Along with modules in the first term for Corsetry and in second term, an external client project for Lepel, for our Swimwear module. Top this off with Style & Colour trend prediction classes where we build a professionally printed trend publication AND our Cabinet of Curiosities Project where we’re encouraged to just ‘go wild’ and then all of a sudden, you realize that another year of your life has gone by. Oh, right. And then there’s ‘CCS’ the academic part of the program. An essay.
Life on the Contour program never stops. Between first and second year, we were issued with summer projects. One of which was for industry, Stretchline, where we were to come up with uses for a silicone adhesive they had developed and were actively trying to market. The other was our Six Knicker Project where we take 6 pairs of commercial knickers and recreate them.
By the time you reach third year, nothing tends to faze you anymore. Bring on the coursework. The summer between Second and Third Year saw another external client project, for Berlei, as well as the beginning of the Six Bra Project, which quickly turned into the Three Bra, and subsequent Two Bra Project nearer the deadline. Again, tasked with choosing commercial bras and replicating them. We were also set another external client project, this time for Aubade and Lectra, check out the video they made below!! Our classes involved a whole lot of Lectra in third year, as well as our CAD classes where we were taught InDesign and learned more Photoshop and Illustrator hint and tips. Once Christmas comes around, you will become immersed with your Final Major Project, affectionately known as FMP. This is your degree collection, and it’s what all the blood, sweat and tears have been about since the start of the program.
For FMP, you can choose the Aesthetic Route or the Technical Route, for which I chose the Technical Route. There aren’t too many different deliverables for the hand-in, but the marking is considerably different. For students choosing the Aesthetic Route, much more weighting is given to their sketchbooks and design development, where for Technical there is much more emphasis placed on the pattern cutting side of things. Through the Technical Route, there is also an emphasis on utilizing the Lectra Modaris software, and we were given additional instructional hours. As part of the Technical Route this year, we were given the option of making either six outfits or four outfits. If you create six outfits, you are able to present your collection to an industry panel for catwalk selection, which was our big event in London at the beginning of June. If you make four outfits, you cannot try for catwalk, and your collection will also be assessed even more on the technical side of things – Lectra Modaris. I chose to make the four outfits as I thought it would be better to have four outfits I was really proud of and that fit well, rather than have more outfits that were not as well constructed. I knew that by choosing a 32GG size, it would be difficult enough to find catwalk models anyways.
It’s hard to believe that all of this, plus more, happened in the last three years. It’s an incredible journey truly built on blood, sweat and tears. All of the students on the course make tremendous sacrifices to be here. It is an incredibly demanding program because of its global reputation and the watchful eye of industry. The financial cost of the program is huge as well. Printing costs, art and material supplies, fabrics, trims and componentry all add up with each project. It’s very easy to go overboard and over budget! We’re all glad to be finished the course now, and we’re even more excited that graduation is just a few weeks away!
As a side note, the projects change each and every single year on the course. In 2013 and 2014 enrolment in the course was much higher than in my year, 2012, and therefore the current course is structured differently. Do check out Yelena’s website as she features some of her university and personal projects, as she prepares for her final year at DMU.
Educating women on the benefits of proper fitting bras is important to Kim. Designing lingerie that complements the fuller figure, and is comfortable, on-trend and beautifully constructed is her mission.
We are in charge of our bodies, and we make the decisions that are right for us, with no judgement. Kimtimates supports those who make their own choices about their own bodies. #yourbodyyourchoice #mybodymychoice