The Condé Nast College of Fashion and Design opened its doors for the very first time this week. As much as I admire the publishing house for all of its magazine successes, I began to wonder if this college was going to live up to the expectations of the people attending.
When I first heard about the Condé Nast College, my excitement levels hit the roof. I was sure that this was the place I would be heading to after I had finished sixth form. That was when I saw the price: £19,560 (excluding VAT) for the year long course. Evidently, the college was only looking for a certain kind of person. Scholarships were available but as is the case with many things, this depended on your household income and not your ability. That ruled me out from ever attending.
If the price hasn’t put you off, here’s an overview of the courses that are on offer. (Notice that Vogue is mentioned in all of the course names). The Vogue Fashion Certificate lasts for ten weeks and is run throughout the year. It costs a meagre £6,600 (again excluding VAT). The college states that this course will prepare students for entering the fashion world by developing essential skills. Subjects include fashion journalism, marketing, styling and the business of fashion along with learning about key designers. It is certainly useful in the sense that it provides an introduction to the many aspects of fashion which is considered to be extremely beneficial for a career in this industry. However, the ridiculously high price for ten weeks of education will almost definitely cause ordinary people to look elsewhere.
The Vogue Fashion Foundation Diploma is a substantial improvement from the Fashion Certificate in the length of time that it lasts for. It is basically the Fashion Certificate in greater detail with a final project at the end. This course takes a year to complete and will enhance the skills that students already have. Enhancing skills seems to suggest that applicants should be graduates or someone that has experience of higher education. Yet I’m pretty sure that the majority of them would not be able to afford £19,560 plus VAT on top of their university fees.
The staff sound impressive on paper. Susie Forbes has been appointed as the principal of the college and has over 25 years experience in the field. She has worked for Vogue in various positions and was the founding editor of Easy Living. One course director, Angela Jones, is also an educational consultant at the prestigious London College of Fashion and the Domus Academy in Milan. Fashion designers and journalists will also be present at the college as guest lecturers. The problem lies in the support and guidance that will be given. Can people that have commitments elsewhere really provide the attention that young students will require in order to be successful at their chosen course?
Condé Nast believe that their many links with the industry will put their students at a greater advantage when looking for employment. This is true to some degree but the danger in Condé Nast’s involvement in the education sector is that many young people may think that they are guaranteed a job with Vogue or another publication at the end. In reality, they’d be lucky to get one of the few internships that Condé Nast are so graciously offering to the ‘most gifted students.’
Located in the fashionable Soho, it is unclear whether the college wants to become a serious educational facility or merely something for the elite to attend to pass the time. The issue of the fees makes the college seem pretentious as it is removing opportunities from people who may possess the talent required for this career path. Perhaps students will benefit more from attending one of the many other fashion institutions such as the London College of Fashion and Central Saint Martins. So is the Condé Nast College of Fashion and Design as good as the publishers make it sound? We will soon see when the first graduates leave with their esteemed qualifications.