Revealing the secrets of the fashion world: Former Sunday Times writer Colin McDowell pays a visit

Date 20.03.2017

The next generation of fashion designers and journalists had the opportunity to meet one of the world’s most acclaimed fashion commentators, Colin McDowell, when he visited the University of Northampton on 16 March.

Colin became interested in fashion in the 1970s and has worked as both a designer and a journalist. He is particularly known for being the chief fashion writer for the Sunday Times and his role as the founder of the influential Fashion Fridge, a major initiative that supports young designers.

He has written many books on fashion, including the seminal McDowell’s Directory of Twentieth Century Fashion; Shoes: Fashion and Fantasy; Hats: Status, Style and Glamour; and Fashion Today. He’s also penned a number of biographies, such as Ralph Lauren, John Galliano and Manolo Blahnik.

In conversation with Gavin Douglas, Senior Lecturer in Fashion, Colin gave an insight into his extensive career, the fashion icons he has been lucky enough to rub shoulders with, how he absolutely loves the hysteria of working in the fashion industry and why couture isn’t really relevant any more.

Talking about his experiences, Colin said: “I went to Durham University many years ago and education was very different then.

“When I went into fashion, it was the 70s and it was a much easier time for people to move around. There wasn’t such as need for qualifications although I had a degree in English, which didn’t have anything to do with fashion or styling. I happened to be working as an actor in Italy at the right time and met people who were in the fashion industry and I started to become interested in their world.

“I was offered a job as a designer, which was a completely new experience for me and I learned so much. I was very lucky as this led to a job in fashion journalism at the Sunday Times once I returned home from Italy.

“So really my advice to any student is to work as hard as you can while you are at university as this is your opportunity to follow your own mind and your own thoughts. Don’t be afraid to travel as you never know what opportunity you will be offered and you will be able to pick up new skills and mix with different cultures.”

Gavin Douglas commented: “Colin McDowell is an influential and well-respected figure within the world of fashion and he has a great wealth of knowledge and experience in this area.

“It was a fantastic opportunity for him to visit us here at the University of Northampton and spend time looking at our students’ work and speaking with them all. Colin instantly recognised the unique qualities we offer our fashion students and he was pleased to see how enthusiastic they all are.

“It was a fantastic day and the students have said it has given them a great insight into the realities of the fashion industry.”

Hear more about Colin’s career and how he succeeded in the world of fashion