"Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening," said Coco Chanel, legendary fashionista. Fashion design jobs today are vibrant and fast-paced, always at the forefront of popular culture. Fashion design careers intersect with music, the silver screen, art, and interior design. Style is everywhere, and fashion designers are responsible for shaping it.
The fashion industry as we know it today began with Charles Frederick Worth, the father of haute couture, who established the first fashion house in 1858. A generation later the fashion industry took off, with seminal designers Lanvin, Chanel, Balenciaga, and Dior dominating the scene. It was during this time that designers became artists, as their jobs shifted from actually sewing garments to sketching or painting designs.
Paris remained the center for fashion design jobs until World War II, when the focus shifted to New York and Hollywood. This was the era of the celebrity fashion icon, a trend that lasted into the sixties with glamour queens like Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn. Meanwhile, street fashion and unusual textiles inspired the careers of British designers Vivienne Westwood and Betsey Johnson. Fashion began to favor a hip, young market--a departure from the grand old haute couture.
Today, ready-to-wear fashion dominates the industry. Ready-to-wear designer lines offer high-quality workmanship and trendsetting styles. As new high-tech fabrics emerge, textile careers are gaining popularity. A contemporary fashion design career is an applied art, as much about defining lifestyles as clothing.
Fashion and textile careers range from designer to stylist, sewer to wardrobe consultant. It's the fashion designer's job to create new looks and set trends. Patternmakers and sample makers are responsible for bringing these new designs to life. A fashion stylist's job is to interpret these bold designs for a general market. Fashion merchandisers watch trends and market new designs, and buyers assemble a collection for retail, attending shows and placing orders with manufacturers.
A fashion design career is a labor of love for many, and competition for the best positions can be fierce. A strong fashion resume features a degree from a fashion school, internships, and a portfolio. Education is crucial--the standard qualification is either a two-year associate's degree or a four-year bachelor's degree. Coursework includes color theory, textiles, sewing and tailoring, patternmaking, fashion merchandising, and computer-aided design (CAD). In addition to internships, contests offer valuable exposure and can really make a fashion resume stand out.
According to BLS, the median annual income for fashion and textile design career s was $55,840 in 2004. Salaries vary widely based on experience and employer-- fashion designers can earn anywhere from $27,970 to $112,840. It's a labor of love, but with determination, talent, and a winning fashion resume, you can establish a design career and start making fashion history.