Hey everyone! Since I said I’d elaborate further in my last blog post, I’ve decided it was time to share a well-awaited writing – on a somewhat more personal level than the usual. Most of you who read my blog or follow up on instagram would know I spent four months in Paris last year (primarily to study Fashion and get a taste of the Fashion Industry), which ended up being such a pivotal time in my life. Paris is a gorgeous city – Where waking up every morning and picking up a croissant on your way to Fashion School whilst being surrounded by stunning architecture and culture is your daily reality. But just like living in any other city, there are also disadvantages to face. I still adore the city and would visit it at any chance I get – Especially because I’ve met so many wonderful, creative and like-minded people there, from all over the world – Some of whom I miss all the time. Also, France (and especially Paris) had been where I visited the most often throughout my life and where I had shared so many great memories. So needless to say, I knew Paris quite well and the decision to move there wasn’t a misinformed one.
Fashion had been a great love of mine for as long as I can remember. I began illustrating clothes at around the age of 6, and it was really one of my greatest passions throughout childhood. I accepted that a decent education in Fashion Design or a degree course in a related subject was not available on the island, and set out for a mainly self-taught route. I purchased a fashion illustration book when I was 13 and practiced thoroughly. Fast forward to three years later, and I had left sixth form to focus primarily on this path, and earn my A-Levels on a self-taught basis as well. It was not to say that Fashion was my only interest – far from it – but the pulsating passion and curiosity for a course of study which was not offered in my country had kept me wondering. Besides, a degree in creative writing, another strong passion of mine, is also non-existent in Malta. I have spoken of this before and will continue to do so unapologetically – Malta can be an irritating country to grow up in if you do not fit in with the norm in any way, such as aspiring to study something other than finance, law or medicine, not sharing the same religious beliefs, dressing up differently… The list goes on. In many ways, I have come to appreciate my country more after getting a taste of what it is like to live overseas and facing the stark reality that no country is perfect, but I cannot choose to ignore the fact that the arts aren’t appreciated enough on our island, and options are limited for those of us who prefer a creative path. For me, this meant working really hard to prove myself, from one portfolio to another – and the hard work it took to independently finance myself with a loan and scholarship, which still resulted in the sacrifice of snacking on nothing more than some bread a day to keep up with the everyday costs that Fashion School brings about.
I had been planning to study at ESMOD for around 4 years – French fashion designers were always my favourite, there was this element of sophistication and timelessness which stood out in their clothing. I suppose that what I had failed to take much notice of, is that over recent years, upcoming designers have rarely come out of Parisian fashion schools but rather New York or London – and that there must be a reason for that. Like everyone else, I had heard the common stereotypes about being involved in the Fashion Industry but I decided to experience it anyway and make my mind up for myself. In no way do I regret that – There is nothing worse than ceasing to try and living in either comfort or fear.
However, Fashion School wasn’t for me – or at least, not this particular one. The environment was not artistically stimulating or one which encouraged creativity and mainly just focused on the technical aspects of fashion. It became apparent to me that paying upwards of €10,000 per year on tuition alone was really quite a waste, considering that still meant carrying your sewing machine to school because only 3 per class are provided (and oftentimes, two of which didn’t work) along with needing to pay an added €1,500 upon entrance for a list of supplies which don’t begin to cover the supplies you will actually need, or a class of thirty-two students being crammed around one teacher and her sewing machine to watch a five-minute demonstration. I also had moved to Paris with the prospect of working whilst studying since my school informed me that we would have 5 hours a day of class, but ended up with 9-10 hours instead (which left no time for working outside of school, especially as anyone who has studied fashion would know the amount of sleepless nights dedicated to sewing.) The École Supérieure des Arts et Techniques de la Mode really did not live up to it’s reputation and judging by the several people who have already switched schools or are switching, I can say I was not the only person who felt that way. If nothing else, the fact that their ranking on The Business of Fashion has fallen from 15th place to 23rd in just one year, speaks for itself. This brought along the discussion, is fashion school a myth? Is all that time and money really required to gain an education in Fashion? Or better yet, is any degree-course worth going into debt for? Sure, in many career paths, school is completely necessary. That piece of paper at the end of your course will inevitably make it a lot easier to find a well-payed job – but it sure as hell doesn’t guarantee one, even more so in the Fashion Industry. Ultimately, I realised that I wanted my education to really be worthwhile, rather than going through all of that just for the sake of getting a degree, or falling into the societal rule which dictates your worth by that same piece of paper.
I fell in love with fashion because I loved to design, create and illustrate. The psychological effect your choice of clothing causes always had a certain significance to me. However sometimes, the materialism and prestigious world that comes along with it can really overpower that simple, genuine love for art. Some could say it’s none other than a lack of strength, but I have always been a very sensitive person – to whom any small sight could leave an impact so great and create feelings so intense – and my prime motivation had always been to create, not to seek a world of glamour. So as I walked past tens of homeless people scouring through garbage for food every morning, to an environment where so much of your worth relied on the price tag your attire boasted, it really all began to lose its purpose for me. The idea is to stick through it – but the environment you immerse yourself in on a day to day basis will lastingly influence your work. The advantages to attending a prestigious school are the opportunities – The brands you get to intern with just for being enrolled. The moment Condé Nast had popped up in my inbox, I felt euphoric. So yes, there are fantastic perks! But how much of your moral integrity are you willing to sacrifice? Don’t get me wrong, I still adore fashion and have no intention of stopping my original plans of creating clothing – except that I am now going about those plans differently.
Paris is still one of my favourite cities and I’d urge anyone to try live there. Rent and cost of living are not cheap, but there are great perks. (Art, food, career opportunities.) I would strongly advise anyone to take their time looking into apartments and actually visit them in person. Being eligible to rent out generally means having an income at least 4x greater than your rent, and my rent amounted to a €1000 monthly per 16m² – So if you are a student, a lot of times you end up having to pay a large sum upfront. However, once you have the French paperwork out of the way it all begins to move quite smoothly. I’d like to go back and experience it without studies forming part of the equation, but for now, I’ll probably be spending my time on the island. This post is ultimately just my experience – But I rarely vocalised these thoughts and never actually wrote them down. A lot of that has to do with fearing it wouldn’t particularly fit on a fashion/lifestyle blog, but there are very few things I enjoy more than writing, so I might start sharing lengthy posts more often. <3