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Getting up at the crack of dawn on the day of the Contour Fashion student catwalk show, from all over the country we made our way to the Freemason’s Hall in Covent Garden, London.

By the time I arrived it was already an absolute hotbed of activity backstage. I had to literally tiptoe as I tried to navigate through all that was going on.

The Final Cut: Who Will Make It To Contour’s Catwalk Finale?
Posted by Bryony Bennett | June 19, 2012


The pre-selection for the Contour Catwalk Show was held a few days after students presented their final collections to industry experts. Pre-selection is what determines whose designs actually make it to the runway in London, where they’ll be seen by reps from many leading brands as well as students, family and friends.

Facing The Music: Presentation Day for Lingerie Design Students
Posted by Bryony Bennett | June 15, 2012


One of the last requirements for students in Contour Fashion is the presentation of our final collections to a panel of industry pros.


With just a few hand adjustments to make before my collection is all sewn up, it’s hard not to feel a little dazed and confused as the scenery switches from the sewing rooms back to the library and the expectant hum of a computer screen.

The stress is far from over, however. If anything it has increased ten-fold as marking criteria are released and it suddenly occurs to us all that, sewing aside, there is a lot more to Contour than just the garments.

In order to best prepare us for the lingerie industry, the Contour Fashion program requires students to single-handedly take on the role of every employer a company would have.

Aside from the execution of the final collection itself, we have to accurately work out and demonstrate Lay Plans, Manufacturing, Costing, Shipping, Grading, Merchandising, Marketing, Labeling, Packaging, Sourcing, Mood Boards, Styling, Fit Evaluations, Technical Drawings and Product Data Management Packs (the packs that get sent off to factories to make up the garments).

Not to mention a presentation to Industry at the end of it all, where you smile professionally while you lay yourself bare and try to explain the last three months — and three years — of your life.

It definitely takes away any naiveté you had and it makes you realize the true complexity of creating lingerie. Which is fine if you can take your time with it all; less good when your weekly time plan has now evaporated to days, and soon, hours.

However, we are blessed with a 24-hour library on our campus, where in the last couple of weeks before deadline, sustained only by a patchwork of every caffeine drink imaginable, I take up permanent residence by the Mac computers. I am far from alone as it is scattered all over with Contour girls also embarking on the quest for Back Up Work, and completing our Technical Route and Research Reports.

The Deadline Week Caffeine Diet

Research Reports are the condensed summary of everything we’ve experimented with, looked into, discovered and utilized to create our niche and innovative final products. Fashion doesn’t typically have a lot of writing involved in it, but in a brilliantly disguised procrastination effort, I total my entire word count across all my reports somewhere near the dizzying 60,000-word mark. I definitely feel a pang of sympathy for the tutors marking all my reports … not to mention my dad, who unwaveringly helps out in a bid to mend all my sleep-deprived grammatical and punctuation errors.

Creative flats for Bryony’s final collection.

My desire to cover every area is perhaps where I fall victim to the rather pointless aspiration of perfection. I have been told a strength of mine is there is never a detail overlooked, but at 4 a.m. on deadline night I find this to be a weakness instead, as I spend half an hour agonizing over whether the “handwash only” symbol on my labels looks too pixilated. It does, but if there’s something Contour has taught me, it’s that some things just need to be let go …

It’s fair to say that on deadline day a collective lack of sleep, estrogen and emotion lead to the highest tension point I’ve experienced in three years.

All I know as I lay my work across my designated area, in some kind of trance, is that I gave it everything I possibly had. So I can’t ask for more, and besides, every last piece of it is in the tutors’ and external examiners’ hands now … ready to condense the last few months of my life down into one tiny little number.

Final collection Range Plan.

Now, the prospect of free time for the first time in years is a dreadfully unsettling feeling. Like a fish out of water, it’s hard to adapt to the thought that I don’t have any boards to finish, components to measure, or lace to sew.

Lucky there’s not much time to waste anyway, as the presentation to industry looms a couple of days later, as well as the pre-selection for the end of year catwalk in Covent Garden, London, that everyone has been working towards.

NEXT: The Industry Presentation

[Editor’s Note: The Contour Fashion program at De Montfort University wraps up with the annual student catwalk show in London this week. Follow Lingerie Talk in the days ahead to find out how the Contour year ends, and how Bryony’s collection was received!]


Metaphorically speaking, I seem to have hit that “wall” that runners get.

After all the excitement and adrenaline that was anticipating the photo shoot, I had every intention of keeping up the fierce momentum I’d sustained for the last few months. (more…)

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