FRANCESCA VERSACE found it tough to get in to Central St
Martins (and eventually didnt), how did Alice Coral
(right), the final-year student that Lucire is following
to her graduation next month, get there?
Weve had some reader mail, especially from
other aspiring fashion design students, supporting Alice, and both
she and Lucire felt that readers might like to know how she
As some know from our earlier articles on Alice,
she had studied law in Brazil and felt an urge to go to London to
pursue her dream of being a fashion designer. Her collection will
have inspiration from strong female film icons, organic lines and
cartoon characters, some of which were showing on this page.
After arriving in London, Alice explains, I
started studying fashion at the Newham College of Further Education
in London in 1997, on a foundation course with fashion specialization.
At the end of the year I applied for the University of East London
(UEL), [my] first and only choice.
|I wanted to go
to St Martins. I would try for as long as it took, and
apply only for a ﬁrst choice. She said St Martins
was hard to get in and that it had been seven years that someone
from our college got there. I said I didn't care
Because fashion in London [is so competitive
that] you only get one shot. There is so much competition that selecting
a second choice university is a waste of time.
You [either] get offered a place on the
first choice or you might as well try again next year, because there
are never any places left on [your] second choice.
But it wasnt great news at UEL.
At the UEL interview they said
that my work was non-commercial and naïve. UEL
is a very commercially-orientated university, who tries to deliver
I didnt get a place and thought their
criticism was a bit harsh considering they were not offering me
a place. I regretted applying there, and I did because I didn't
think I could enter St Martins.
Undeterred, she returned to college for another
year, finishing a BTEC diploma in
fashion design under the guidance of the same tutor, Jane De Bæck.
I told her that the only place I wanted to go was St Martins,
that I would try for as long as it took, and apply only for a first
choice. She said St Martins was hard to get in and that it
had been seven years that someone from our college got there. I
said I didn't care, I would try.
Jane then advised me to do a different portfolio
than what she would normally do: a portfolio that was more about
freedom of creativity than technical drawings, and that showed my
personality and my vision. We worked really hard and she allowed
me to work from home and have a totally different timetable from
other students as well as different projects. My marks rocketed
because I was allowed this freedom and my portfolio become really
interesting, miles away from the portfolio of the first year.
It paid off, when I went to the interview
I was happy and confident and felt I had a chance. The interview
was more a friendly chat than an analysis of my work, and my interviewers
were my future main tutors: Janet Lance-Hughes and Christine Koussertari.
We chatted for about half an hour, longer
than I expected, and I got two clues that I might have got a place.
One was a project about eveningwear: my final BTEC
project and my fave of all. As Christine turned the pages she and
Janet glanced at each other. [Were they] conferring or laughing?
I didn't know, but as an optimist, I thought they were liking it.
Then, as I was leaving, Janet called me back and asked about my
health. I thought, Why ask that unless they want me to attend
Her hunch was right. A letter of acceptance came
about two months later. I read it about 15 times before I finally
believed I had got a place. I somehow had this idea that they would
say, Congratulations, you have been accepted at CSM,
but instead I received a letter from the organization that deals with
universities (UCAS) saying I had a conditional
offer from the above institution. One condition was that
she passed an IELTS English test, which
she did straight away, with an excellent mark.
Alice still seeks additional sponsorship to help
with her graduation show. If you can assist, please email her care
of our feedback form and we’ll connect
ABOVE: Alice Coral. BELOW:
Research images used by her for her final-year graduation show.