Embarking on a journey in the world of fashion is thrilling and challenging. We met with Compass International School Doha (CISD) alumni, Kaatje, who followed her passion for art, history, and geography through A-Levels and successfully made it to Polimoda fashion school. Read along as we explore how her passion and perseverance shaped her success, the challenges she faced, and her advice to others on a creative path.
Which secondary pathways in CISD best fit your unique journey?
I studied A Levels, History, Geography and Art.
How did your A-Level Pathway help lead you to Polimoda?
While my fashion studies have taken place outside of high school with a University Professor, I have used my A levels to focus on developing my interests in History, Geography, and Art. I chose these subjects as they relate to my own life experiences and interests as a third culture kid and feed directly to fashion.
Through studying A Level History, especially the French and Russian revolutions I have become very interested in the waves of freedom of creative expression, especially through the arts, and how we cycle through phases of great freedom and great control. How this plays out in fashion is of particular interest. I am also interested in continuing my research into the history of civil rights, and expanding this to a global postcolonial study, specific to fashion. Living in Doha, where the Abaya viewed from the outside- is often seen as a form of oppression, from the inside, within the Gulf, it communicates power and respect. A Level Geography has been very inspirational in understanding a population's demographic and how that influences fashion and media trends. I'm also interested in how LICs and HICs differ in the luxury of having slow fashion movements in response to fast fashion.
What were some challenges you faced when preparing for the fashion school application process?
While studying for A Levels at Compass, I also studied outside. Last year I had private lessons sometimes three times a week, building my skills and portfolio pieces. I took courses at VCU arts Qatar and also studied independently over the summers. My winter break this year was nonstop portfolio building while at the same time juggling the Art requirements for A Levels. I really haven't stopped working (weekends and breaks and after-school lessons). Part of the process also included learning the Adobe suite on my own, to build my digital portfolio.
Can you talk about any specific mentors or influential figures who have guided you in your journey to your acceptance to Polimoda?
Last year, I started an independent study with VCUarts Qatar Fashion Design Professor Elizabeth Ju, after taking part in VCUarts Qatar fashion summer school program, pursuing my interests in craft and fashion construction. During this independent study, I completely fell in love with fashion Design. From the basing stitch to understanding the warp and weft, to selecting the right materials, and to the accuracy of the pattern making - I have learned to pay close attention to very specific details. Each step is as important as the next. The construction of the mood boards, sketching and actual sewing are where I find my creativity flourish, while the precision of each step focuses my eye and intent.
I also was very lucky to have the Director of Paper Printmaking at VCUarts Qatar as a mentor. He helped advise me and discuss the path of art and design and creative research as a career option.
Can you tell us which classes at CISD did you find particularly valuable for your current pursuits in fashion?
A Levels, History, Geography
How do you think your secondary education here at CISD has contributed to your overall growth and preparedness for university?
I've learned to multitask and to be proactive. I've had to apply myself to learning many things on my own. Independence is essential.
Are there any specific skills or knowledge that you acquired in secondary school at CISD that you find applicable or beneficial in your fashion studies?
Fashion includes serious research. All art and design majors are research-intensive. A Levels has helped hone these skills.
Looking back, do you have any advice for other students who may be considering a departure from traditional academic paths to pursue their passions?
I come from a family of Art and Design University Professors. They are very academic and very creative. The creative economy, and fashion in particular, fully embraces new technologies and also heritage futures and is a very exciting and growing part of Qatar for sure. Globally, the creative industries are expanding incredibly. My advice would be to follow your bliss, read all the time and find ways to express your uniqueness.
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