01 April 2011

Last month, Grazia magazine introduced you four twenty-somethings – Allie, Cosar, Jo’el and Mary - who have been given a fashion opportunity of a life-time. All four had a difficult start in life and have been helped by the amazing Kids Company - the charity set up by Camilla Batmanghelidjh to help inner city kids written off by the system. Today, they have been handpicked to be part of a unique mentoring scheme launched by Grazia and Reiss and transported onto the fashion front-line to be trained in everything from fashion design to blogging.

So, how has it been so far? Every week you can check in with them on Grazia Daily (right here!) and and follow their blogs charting their highs and lows over the next six months. Here, Allie describes who is being mentored in womenswear design explains how her experience has spurred her on to make other changes in her life…

I can’t believe four weeks have flown by - so much has changed and yet so much is still the same. My sister is staying with me at the moment and I have to get my nieces to school most mornings, I still go to KidsCompany one or twice a week for support  - but then I’m suddenly working in the West End in the design department for Reiss too. It’s all still a little surprising to me if I am honest. This week I have been photographing a rail of vintage garments that were borrowed for inspiration. They all need to be returned as it’s expensive to hire such special pieces. One of the dresses is worth over three thousand pounds! That’s incredible to me! I hardly have enough money to top up the electricity and put food on the table at the moment. I could never imagine ever having £3,000 just kicking around which I’d then spend on ONE dress! The vibe for Spring Summer 2012 definitely seems to be luxurious and embellished with craftwork. I don’t want to give away too much but the inspiration adopted from these garments is sequins, sequins, sequins - I’ve filled in so many illustrations with sequins I’ve lost count..

Since I have started this mentor scheme, I’ve also decided to apply for fashion & textile courses at university. I’ve worked hard preparing my portfolio and it has been good to have had input from my mentors at KidsCompany AND Reiss. I had an interview last week and although it went okay, I still don’t think I have got in. It’s hard for me to feel very confident about a lot of things, but at least I now have a ready-to-go portfolio for other interviews I go for.

While all this was going on my Reiss mentor Rachel got appendicitis and she has been off work recovering since. I have really missed her and feel a little like a spare part when she’s not around. Everyone is so busy I don’t want to interrupt them too much. When Rachel gets back in, no doubt she’ll have a list of things she needs me to help her with!


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