The Nation

Learning french fashion design and dressmaking

Courses at Alliance Francaise are also reasonably priced

With a dream of becoming a clothing brand owner in a western country, Panissara Srijamroen has equipped herself with fashion and dressmaking skills and knowledge to ensure she will be eligible for entering a leading university in the UK. After graduating with a bachelor's degree from Raffle Design School in Bangkok, the 23yearold graduate doesn't let time go by without selfdevelopment. Instead, the Alliance Francaise (AF) in Bangkok is where she spends her time talking a course to strengthen her skills and knowledge of French haute couture, which was a style she hadn't learnt before. "France is among the top countries of fashion. So, here, I chose to study what is different from what I have studied at Raffle," she said. "I want to have my own brand maybe in the UK or France after I graduate with a master's degree in fashion design from the UK." Alliance Francaise is the only place that provides French style fashion design and dressmaking courses in Thailand for people who want to be selfemployed. They can apply what they learn from courses with their jobs. Moreover, the courses provide an alternative to working age people, housewives and particularly new graduates so they can try creating their own handiwork. Graduates can also find themselves - get a better idea of what they're skilled at from the courses. "I hope I will be more fluent and skilful in creating patterns from papers because this skill may be necessary when I study my master's degree in the UK," Panissara said. Piboon Nasomyon, a student at the fashion design class, will use his acquired knowledge to improve his business. He said: "I have my own business in the clothing industry. I learned a new method of management and how to think creatively. I also gained new knowledge and learnt what I need to improve. I applied these to my products to enhance the quality of my business." Apart from the unique French style, AF also offers cheaper tuition fees. So, it is not surprising that fashion is the most popular course for Thai students. It is extremely affordable when compared to other design schools. Alliance Francaise director Claire Keefe said: "We're very much cheaper than most fashion design schools in Bangkok. We have our building so there is no rent for luxurious studios and we want to make fashion design, Frenchstyle accessible to everybody." She said the Bangkok branch was the only AF outlet in the world to have its own fashion design school, as both France and Thailand are very interested in fashion, as two countries that produce amazing and beautiful textiles and have a wealth of creative designers. Each fashion design course and sewing haute couture course costs only around Bt5,000Bt6,000. "All of our teachers have worked in France or have degrees from French fashion institutes, which is actually an opportunity for students to improve the French fashion. What is taught here is Frenchstyle fashion design," Ms Keefe said. The skill of sewing was taught to students, who also learn how to do really nice sketches plus the basics of dressmaking, like how to cut and how to make patterns. "We want to produce people who cannot only do a beautiful sketch but also make a beautiful dress by themselves," she said. "All French designers are also very good dressmakers."Alliance Francaise had exchange agreement so students had gone to work for French fashion houses as well. Fashion design teacher Duangkaew Srichaiwan said: "We teach sketching the structure of the body, starting from the basics. Then, when students are more confident about it and able to get the right measurement, we can move on to do something more complicated. I emphasise the right measurement because it is a good basic. Doing it well, their clothing designs will be good, too." Sewing haute couture teacher Peng Saenpinta focuses on teaching his students uptodate clothing fashion and elaborate dressmaking. "Frenchstyle haute couture uses elaborate measurement. We use centimetre measurement," he said. Duangkaew has good skills in fine arts, and later went to France for a month to learn French concepts of fashion design and clothes from many institutes. Peng is Duangkaew's fashion design alumnus. He later graduated with a bachelor's degree in fashion design from France. After graduating, he made elegant dresses for beauty pageants in Europe and India and worked for the world famous brand Chanel. There are also many more interesting courses taught by French and Thai teachers at Alliance Francaise, such as French language, music, dance, interior design and photography - all for people to keen fulfil their artistic ambitions.

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