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former Foundation student exhibits design among fashion legends

Former Foundation student Ellen Ophelia displays her work alongside famous fashion designers.

‘Fashion and Freedom’ exhibition at The Civic about women during World War I includes work by Vivienne Westwood, Roksanda and Sadie Williams.

Ellen Ophelia is studying BA (Hons) Fashion Design at Istituto Marangoni. Having studied the Foundation Year in 2014, Ellen progressed to the London campus to study her degree. Ellen’s work was chosen to be part of the exhibition following a competitive number of entries from Istituto Marangoni London students, alongside pieces designed especially by Vivienne Westwood, Roksanda, Holly Fulton, Emilia Wickstead, J JS Lee and Sadie Williams.

Co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the UK's arts programme for the First World War centenary and Manchester Art Gallery, with support from the British Fashion Council, the exhibition commemorated the centenary of the First World War. Having completed the first display in London, the collection will be involved in a number of different events across the UK from now until the end of 2018.

Ellen is currently working at Erdem as a placement year for her degree, and is excited to be a part of the project. We asked her about her work, inspiration and career plans:

What are the benefits of being in London as a fashion student?

The chance to meet important people in the industry. There are lots of exclusive exhibitions and events in London which makes an experience I could never have in other country such as Indonesia. 

What (and who) inspired your designs for the exhibition?

The physical and psychological restriction felt by women and the observed gap between social classes are the main inspiration for the design. I chose to look at servants and puppets as embodiment of how restricted and controlled women are during that period.

What have been your favourite moments whilst being involved in this exhibition?

The whole design process is memorable to me as I learned a lot about women and the world war through it. And of course, seeing the design come to life and to see it standing in an exhibition alongside other notable designers is one of the best moments I have experienced.

Who are some of your favourite designers, fashion writers, stylists, photographers etc..?

My favourite designer changes from time to time but Celine/Phoebe Philo, Raf Simons, Delpozo, Elery are always on the top of the list.

You are currently on your Sandwich year, where are you working and could you tell us a bit about your experience working there?

I am currently working at ERDEM as a design intern. I get to work closely with the creative director and help the design team through the whole design process. As the only student intern in the team, I feel very lucky to be able to learn from them and refine my skills.

How do you think this work placement will help your future career?

It helps me to further develop my skills, knowledge and experience about the industry which is very important for my future career. Building connections through people is also useful.

What are your career ambitions?

I want to work with designers outside of my country to gain experience and knowledge that I couldn't get back home, and to prepare myself to build my own label in the future.

Finally, what is your advice to anyone who wants to study fashion?

From what I have experienced, you don’t have to know right away what you want to do or specialise in: menswear, womenswear, couture, etc. That is something you will find out during your studies through lots of research and experiments. Familiarise yourself with the industry by looking at current shows, reading magazines, and follow fashion influencers or bloggers to get used to the fashion world and trends.