BCU Alumna secures internship at British Couture fashion brand

Karina working on a mannequin

Karina Jassi graduated with a BA (Hons) Textile design degree from BCU in 2023. During BCU’s Inspired Festival that same year, Karina exhibited her work and won the ‘Bespoke Textiles’ Award, landing her a month-long internship at British Couture brand, Jennifer Clair. We sat down with Karina to ask her about her experience working there.

How did you get your internship at Jennifer Clair?

At the end of my university experience, I took part in BCU’s Inspired Festival, an exhibition hosted in the Parkside building on the City Centre campus. During the exhibition, I was able to celebrate and showcase my graduate collection to many well-known people from prestigious companies in the textile industry. At this event, I was awarded the ‘Bespoke Textiles Award’, which granted me a month-long internship at Jennifer Clair, a British Couture brand based in London.  

What was it like working there?

I thoroughly relished my time at Jennifer Clair; it was a dream to see beautiful couture dresses being created and being heavily included in the creative journey. Whilst working there, I was part of the embroidery team where I saw the transformation of initial embroidered sketches to fully embellished couture gowns. I worked with an amazing team, and I enjoyed the collaborative nature of the studio environment. I was able to help with embroidery linked to the dressmaking and construction of the gowns, which helped me to apply the embroidery skills I have obtained from my university studies, whilst expanding my understanding of how I can build and apply my skills in future.

This was a key experience as I was able to learn couture embroidery skills on a one-to-one basis with the head embroiderer at Jennifer Clair and was introduced to working with new embroidery materials. After expressing an interest in embroidery production, I was also able to gain an insight into this amongst embroidery designing and hand embellishment. Overall, the internship experience has enabled me to develop my refined hand craftsmanship skills to a couture level and has inspired me for the future, as it confirmed that the couture fashion industry is what I want to continue pursuing as an embroiderer.

What were your highlights from the internship?

One of my highlights would be working on an exclusive couture clientele piece which was a heavily embellished cape. As hand-beading is one of the techniques I am most passionate about as an embroiderer, I was grateful to have been part of the creation, especially working with Swarovski crystals.

I was also allowed to have full creative control over designing the embroidery artwork for a front dress panel piece. When the embroidered panel was received, seeing the envisioned embroidery brought to life provided me with a sense of achievement which is a key highlight of my internship.

What are you hoping to achieve in the future?

In the future, working for a couture brand as an established couture embroiderer and embellisher would be a goal and working with an embroidery team. As a designer, I am passionate about maintaining the importance of traditional craftsmanship in modern society, therefore working in the couture industry will enable this value to be upheld whilst also improving my skills over time.

I would also hope to work in other fashion hotspots overseas to gain a breadth of experience and knowledge of the couture world. Additionally, sustainability is also significant to me when producing designs, so I hope to apply my knowledge and passion for this subject in the future and to continue creating meaningful work.

What was your experience of studying at BCU?

I enjoyed studying BA (Hons) Textile Design at BCU, the three years flew by! When making the decision of which course to pursue at university, attending open days and taster sessions helped me to visualise what the next three years could entail. I applied and then I was invited to attend an interview to showcase my work, resulting in an unconditional offer being provided to study the course.

The module content and structure helped me to flourish into the designer I am now, as my knowledge of the design world has grown immensely. Within the first year, I built my understanding of the fundamental principles of textile design and an open approach was implemented when learning about the four textile processes: print, embroidery, weave and knit.

As the course progressed, a tailored teaching approach was introduced which worked well as I produced targeted work for the bespoke industry within my chosen specialism of embroidery. Overall, my time at BCU was hugely beneficial in producing a well-suited portfolio of work that I still showcase as a graduate.

Karina sketching in a sketchbook next to a mannequin

What advice would you share to anyone considering studying Textile Design at BCU?

One main piece of advice I would share would be to choose a course that you are passionate about and push yourself to do the best you can. Also remember to utilise tutorial support with course tutors, as they can use their expertise in the industry to help guide you. When I was at BCU this helped me when developing my work as the course tutors are passionate about supporting every student on their creative paths.

I would also advise new and current students to make the most of industry-level equipment that is readily available to use on campus. Doing this will allow your skillset as a student to increase and to push the creative boundaries of your work by combining new and different processes.

My final piece of advice would be to gain as much experience as possible. This can be through work placements or internships, as this helps you to apply the skills learnt at university within the industry and will help identify which area you enjoy working within.

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