Talent in fashion spans America. Sometimes the most original ideas are coming from the most remote places. Fashion design is the art of creating magic for the everyday. Getting to a place where born creativity is transformed into a profession can be challenging. And moving to Los Angeles can be difficult. Yet the results can be very rewarding, especially when your journey is to the height of fashion, couture!
Today we sit with Academy of Couture Art freshman, Rahel SHAREW. Rahel is a double major student going for her Bachelor’s in Fashion Design and Pattern Design. She is an exceptional young lady whose story of coming across America to realize her dream in couture fashion design at Academy of Couture Art: Design College of Haute Couture is one of passion and vision.
Freshman Rahel SHAREW drafting a pattern of the YSL style pants at Academy of Couture Art
A lot of students thinking to make that major transition to fashion school wonder, “Can I make it… alone?” Your journey is an exceptional one of determination and courage. I feel a lot of students come with passionate, driven backgrounds such as yourself. Tell us a bit about you.
I was born in Canada and moved to Atlanta when I was a child. I got interested in the TV show, “That’s So Raven”. That and Kimora Lee Simmons (I loved wearing Baby Phat) inspired me. When I moved to Cincinnati, I started drawing clothing. I thought it was so cool. Even though I did not know how to do shadowing and such, what I drew was really good; when I see it today I am still impressed. I would try to draw whatever I saw and focused on making it exact.
By that time, it became clear that I was into fashion design so my mom bought me a small sewing machine. I had to convince my mom that this was my future career so I worked with store bought patterns and taught myself the basics. Starting high school, I went to boarding school. From there I realized that college is just around the corner and I needed to get more focused on my future.
I started looking for a fashion high school, yet found a performing arts high school instead. At first I turned it down because I did not understand what costume design had to do with fashion. Little did I know! Anyway, after searching around for a fashion high school without much luck, I thought let me give it a try. I was amazed by my school. But it wasn’t easy. I realized that if you are one year behind, you are really behind. Coming in the tenth grade, I missed out on a lot. So, I had to get caught up and had to work harder. By my senior year I was with my right class though, unfortunately, I lost out on college credit in AP studio art; even though I was able to catch up, I did not get the complete course load as required for credit.
It was an interesting class; we did vintage gowns and such. The focus of 3D art was on developing pieces that brought artwork to life, working with different textiles not just fabric. That’s when I got into couture, you know, highly specialized clothing. One of my friends did her senior concentration in cocktail dresses. I missed that time. It happens. But that’s why I now have to utilize every single time that I get and for the best.
What was it like when you first visited Academy of Couture Art?
Before I found Academy of Couture Art, I had in my mind that I would go to another fashion school. Since sophomore year I was preparing. Yet when it came to my senior year, I asked my college counselor, “What is the difference between college and university?” I thought college was something not as important as a university but I learned that a university would have a bigger campus because it has so many faculties under it and a college tends to be focused on a certain area. So, I researched again because I did not want to miss anything.
I started getting into couture my senior year and when I found Academy of Couture Art and read the mission I was set. I am really excited I found out about this school and am so thankful that I researched more. But to get back to visiting Academy of Couture Art, I was really excited because I thought this was the school of my dreams. I was getting my mood board prepared for admissions and I was ready to go for presenting that before visiting.
When I arrived in LA, it was an adventure. There’s so much happening in LA. And in California the schools are so different. In California the schools are a bit smaller than I’m used to. On the whole, size didn’t matter once I saw the quality. I was pretty sure I was in a good place though I did have to convince my mom. She was stressing that I had to make sure since I had once changed my mind. I did a lot of confirming; I am so glad I visited Academy of Couture Art before enrolling.
When you learned of your acceptance, what were your thoughts about moving to Los Angeles?
Many people asked if I was scared, and yeah, it is a scarey move since I was leaving my family, but actually it was the most exciting time of my life. I started packing a month before coming and had a whole schedule of what I will do each week before arriving so I had all my luggage ready.
Now that you are in Los Angeles, tell us about your experiences. What’s your daily life like?
Daily life is not so interesting. I focus on getting my work done. I schedule everything out so that my work is done before the first day of class. When I had a four day weekend, I would make sure I had one day to relax. What I usually do, when I first came here, was explore with my classmate. We went to the Santa Monica pier with my dog, then to Rodeo Drive. This weekend we’re going to the Fashion District. Oh.. and I’m meeting my friend from high school who is out here now. I learned that there are actually trains rather than buses that could go to Riverside. When I saw the downtown train station I was in awe. It’s so big! Anyway, I try to keep myself busy.
Has Los Angeles been inspiring for fashion?
Actually, when I went down to Rodeo Dr. with my classmate I was so inspired. I can’t wait to start classes in which we design collections!
Now you are doing a double major.
Yeah, every since starting Academy of Couture Art I knew I would go into a double major.
What’s a schedule like at Academy of Couture Art?
You know, actually, when I was just a single major, I didn’t feel like my schedule was complete. Now that I’m double majoring I feel complete. I don’t know how to say it. In high school I felt I was much more busy. Now in college, it’s a bit more easier. College is more chill. It’s good though, but at the same time I like to keep myself really busy. The class I’m taking now, Fashion Art and Design I, is really in line with Modele Vivant I. I’m pretty sure my technique will be getting much better soon.
Is there anything you would like to share with prospective students who may soon be in your shoes?
I have to say, I understand how they feel coming into a different world, but the thing that kept me strong is having my puppy with me (he keeps me safe). The time that I really broke down into tears was the day my mom left. I’m not going to lie, I was bursting into tears. My mom encouraged me by reminding me that we went through all of this to bring me here. I felt so blessed to have her support. And I call her everyday to keep contact which helps.
At first it may be hard, but you have to fight through it because it is life. In life you have to take risks and challenges in hope that it will turn out for the better. Take that risk and hope that it will come out well because if you don’t, you’ll still be thinking, “What if?”