Programme: Fashion - BA (Hons)

Year: 2013

Morwenna Darwell graduated from Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) in 2013 with a BA (Hons) in Fashion. Having studied at postgraduate level at the Royal College of Art, she now works for Gucci in Rome.

In January 2016, Wallpaper Magazine named her as one of its “ones to watch” in its ‘Next Big Thing’ issue. Here, she tells us how the skills she learned at ECA have helped her get where she is today.

Tell us about your time at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA)

Originally I was keen to go to a London school because I wanted to get into what I thought of as the heart of the fashion world, which seemed so far away from the farm I grew up in Southwest Scotland.  But after seeing the graduate catwalk at Edinburgh College of Art, and considering my finances, I decided to apply to ECA. Edinburgh is more compact, with fabric shops and galleries being so close. Also the class size is much smaller and more personal in comparison to most other fashion courses in the UK. This was great: the tutors really had the time to get to know us individually and understand who we were and what drove us.

Tell us about your creative practice

Working with my hands and using colour and texture to create has always been when I’m at my happiest. Textiles are always my starting point, they are the foundation of my collections. Most of them are made or found in the dark corners of market stalls. Now I'm a designer working for Gucci in Rome.  I have recently moved to the Embroidery department where I work on the embroideries for both Womenswear and Menswear collections.

What did you like about ECA?

Edinburgh College of Art gave me extremely thorough groundings in design. The teaching was excellent and the timetable was extremely intensive, and it still impresses me that we went from learning how to thread an industrial sewing machine on the first day to designing and sewing our entire collection three years later! Sewing your entire collection alone, something that is unique to Edinburgh College of Art, was a huge task but well worth the elation in achieving it! Everyone in my class was very talented and dedicated, so there was a real pressure to constantly raise your game, by peers and teachers alike, but it was always a really supportive and nurturing environment.

My friends and I all got bikes and we had great fun flying around Edinburgh with bags of fabric and sketchbooks flung across our shoulders or with our heels and dresses on the way to the Bongo Club or Sneaky Petes. I found it extremely liberating to have the freedom of getting more or less anywhere in the city within 15 minutes on my bike. The wind in my hair was essential to keeping me sane in those days and nights…and days…and nights spent in the studio.

It still impresses me that we went from learning how to thread an industrial sewing machine on the first day to designing and sewing our entire collection three years later! Sewing your entire collection alone, something that is unique to ECA, was a huge task but well worth the elation in achieving it!

Morwenna Darwell, 2013 Fashion - BA (Hons) graduate

What have been your biggest achievements since you graduated?

Being picked by Wallpaper Magazine as a "one to watch" in their 'Next Big Thing' issue, January 2016. Getting a job where I can make ends meet is also hugely satisfying. But actually my biggest achievement was graduating from the Royal College of Art with a collection I was proud of. A Masters collection stays in your portfolio for decades so I really felt a great amount of pressure! I really wasn’t sure until the day of the final catwalk that my vision would come across as I had hoped, that I had managed to truly portray the designer I wished to be.

Alumni wisdom

Only go into Fashion design if you can’t imagine yourself wanting anything else.  It is extremely hard work and at times life-consuming so unless you take real pleasure out of its day-to-day struggles it will be a struggle to get through.

Keep up to date on your Linkedin profile. I never gave much consideration to it, but in the end a little update and a couple of images added a few months before my graduation is possibly what got me noticed by Gucci and landed me my first graduate job.


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