The first year of our course centres on experimentation and encourages a culture of enquiry and analysis. Combined with developing essential technical and creative practices such as research and design communication, draping on the stand and fabric manipulation, pattern cutting, production methods and finishing techniques, you'll gain an appreciation of a broad range of essential atelier skills. This is a very practical course and throughout your first year you'll progressively build your skills through a range of dynamic projects.
A Question of Angles and Curves
Your first unit is an introduction through critical analysis and review to the concept of transferring 2-dimensional cloth into 3-dimensional garments utilising geometric shapes. The investigation of basic shapes: squares, circles and triangles will enable you to explore creativity through a clear, simple and edited format. Scale, construction, repetition and fabric will all transform the geometric element into creative garment outcomes. At the initial starting point, design realisation through both 2-D flat cutting and 3-D stand work will introduce you to the concept of creative draping and cutting as the main design vehicle, as apposed to designing on paper.
Form and Silhouette
Understanding the relationship between the fit, the hang and the balance of the finished garment relates to the successful alignment of the correct pattern shape to the correct body shape with the correct fabric selection. In order for you to successfully align all these elements, you will be taught the essential technical disciplines as well as the creative principles. In this unit you will be expected to start to explore in a creative and analytical way, the way in which dart manipulation can enhance both the silhouette and the 3-dimensional form of a garment, (long top or dress). This is in conjunction with the understanding of style lines within a garment.
Sleeves and Collars
The shoulder line and the armhole are vital focus areas for silhouette and creative cut. In this unit you'll explore the range of developments within the sleeve area of creative cut, with in-depth focus on both the set of the armhole and the shaping of the sleeve itself. Collars and cuffs will also feature as an area of focus, where pattern drafting and modeling techniques will be taught and applied to a range of styles. This unit is also about teamwork and you will work in small groups to produce and promote your skills across a range of final garments.
Occasion wear dresses for events such as for a reception, party, through to a full gala ball gown or red carpet award dress requires two very specific creative cutting areas of expertise and a specialist series of techniques. In this dress unit we will focus on the fitted and strapless boned bodice.
History and Theory
This unit will develop your knowledge and understanding of the academic discourse surrounding fashion and textiles and their skills in research. It extends competence in formal essay writing and will introduce you to a range of academic literature to develop your skills in critical evaluation and textual analysis.
This is the highly specialised and developmental year where you'll learn advanced competencies and further develop in-depth techniques, blending traditional handcraft and production skills with contemporary design and innovation. This will encourage you to investigate further theories and taught methodologies, whilst gaining new skills and approaches to product realisation.
The Tailoring Atelier: Craft and Heritage
This unit focuses on developing your ability to use informed research, applied to cut, fit, balance and attention to detail in order to achieve contemporary tailored garments that reference a precision and demonstrate an understanding of tradition. Through the realisation of tailored garments, you will therefore learn to understand and work with the influence and implications of heritage to inform craft skills which have evolved over centuries.
Professional Preparation: Industry Placement
This unit aims to prepare you for both your third year and your future career. You will select one of the following options:
Option 1: Industry Placement: this option enables you to undertake a five-week self-initiated work placement that is relevant to your potential career direction and contributes to the fulfilment of the course aims and objectives.
Option 2: Industry case study: this option offers the opportunity to study an aspect of the industry that you have identified as an area of interest. Through the method of case study research you will undertake fieldwork into a self-selected topic or question.
The Flou Atelier
The French haute couture workrooms use the term 'le flou', meaning softly sewn garments with a fluid handle to them. This unit focuses on the 'soft sewing' where traditionally crepe de chine, georgette, mousseline, lace and other fragile/unstructured fabrics are used. Specialist draping, fabric manipulation and finishing techniques will play a key role in this unit.
Developing Research and Critical Enquiry
This unit provides space to consider the research and inquiry options available to you in the final year, and evaluate your future direction. Through exploration of a subject area related to either broader contextual issues, or a concern within the industry you aspire to work in, you will develop appropriate research skills applicable to your final year of study.
Modernism and Postmodernism
After a year of looking at fashion specifically, this unit is devoted to the investigation of a broader spectrum of cultural production. This ensures a thorough understanding of the connection between fashion and culture and the relevance of clothes to modern life.
Study Abroad (optional)
This optional unit will allow you to spend a period of time in an overseas educational institution.
In Year 3 you'll consolidate your acquired knowledge and understanding, preparing you for a very individual interpretation of your professional practice in your chosen career pathway as you develop and express your personal signature style.
Provides you with the opportunity to verify, articulate and demonstrate your understanding of atelier practice skills developed in Years One and Two. Through the practical application and craft of draping and creatively cutting defined silhouettes, production and finishing skills will express your technical and creative learning. This is an extended unit, which will allow you to fully concentrate on the interrogation and realisation of ideas from first prototypes to finished production garments, to the highest standards. The Atelier Signature collection and range will be publicly displayed at a salon presentation/show to the client or through an exhibition.
Good portfolio skills are as essential, in the realm of day-to-day atelier practice, as they are in the pursuit of acquiring work as a creative professional. In this unit, you'll prepare your final exit portfolio to take with you as you launch your professional career.
Option 1: Research for Industry
Provides you with an opportunity to critically reflect on and evaluate your practice, and offers a space to conduct more in-depth research into the specific sector of the industry you aspire to work in.
Option 2: Thesis
You'll undertake a substantial period of individually-devised research on a subject related to the contextual and/or theoretical concerns of your discipline or professional aspirations. This will be applied and presented within a structured written dissertation that conforms to academic conventions.
This course offers the opportunity to study abroad for part of your second year. To find out more about studying abroad as part of your course please see the Study Abroad section:
Our Fashion Atelier course at UCA has strong links with the industry, with students collaborating on projects for fashion companies including Ted Baker and Hardy Amies, and participating in high-profile competitions with organisations such as the British Fashion Council.
Our industry links are particularly valuable for the placement module in Year 2, which offers you the chance to gain authentic industry experience. We enjoy particularly close connections with companies such as:
- Comme des Garçons
- Marc Jacobs
- Ann Demeulemeester
- Max Mara
- Alexander McQueen
- Hussein Chalayan
- Ade Ackerman.
These companies also regularly employ graduates from our Fashion Atelier course.