Design your Future

Science may well provide the answers, but in the meantime, creativity is a precious escape.

“Retrain!” they said. “Work in cyber!”, he suggested. Just last week, a ‘Dear John’ letter, of sorts, to the creative industries from one particularly insensitive government, was met with well-deserved criticism.

Tantamount to telling the Algarve to ‘forget tourism, do something else!’, this retrain initiative from the privileged peeps in Westminster has riled and ruffled feathers amongst the entirety of the creative sector, myself included.

Imagine a world with no music, no comedy, no dance, no fashion, no architectural wonders, no Netflix, no brilliant local magazines to inspire your next sojourn, no Tomorrow magazine … Gasp! What a quiet, dull world this would be.

And so, my rallying cry, my rebuttal, my refusal to allow creative talent to fall by the wayside and take up an NVQ in ‘cyber’, is to endeavour to champion and support creative talent and visionaries.

And please note, this is not a political statement. This is a sincere shout-out for those creating the soundtracks to our lives; designing the wardrobes for our Saturday nights, writing the films and books that evoke our deepest emotions. A salute to the design team, editors and writers of our very own creative corner, in this here, very fabulous magazine.

So, with optimistic enthusiasm, I want to introduce a young fashion designer, based here in the Algarve, who adapted, who overcame and who found a way to send her designs out to the world.

After Graduate Fashion Week in London – normally the pivotal moment for graduates to display their most eye-catching showpieces to the industry – was cancelled, fashion designer Sarah-Louise Koessler managed to pull together imagery of her final, show-stopping collection. With the help of photographers and stylists, she created some precious images to plan the next step in launching her fashion business. Sarah-Louise Designs is here in the Algarve and online to the rest of the world.

Hailing originally from France – like so many great fashion designers – Sarah-Louise then crossed the channel to hone her skills at Kingston College and Brighton University studying fashion and business followed by numerous stints in ateliers and fashion houses, including the very chic, Ralph and Russo. It was during this time that her French father and English mother settled in the Algarve, Sarah-Louise’s new home and new studio HQ of her fashion label.

With her eye for dramatic creations, here she plans not only to help local businesses with their marketing and online strategies, Sarah-Louise also plans to create and sell wearable designs in the form of bags and clothing, all created sustainably using fabric remnants from her collections.

Sarah told me, “The tops will be adiffusion line from my current collection and more wearable, ready-to-wear pieces.I will also continue to create bespoke andshowpieces. Working in the current climate, I willbe selling online, promoting locally, and, eventually, internationally. The absolutedream would be for someone like Lady Gaga to wear my designs.”

Even more encouraging, Sarah-Louise is collaborating with local designers and brands and has been working with local photographers and hair and make-up artists as she creates the all-important imagery of her new designs.

Of course, in relation to the notion of retraining, from where this tale began, Sarah has sought additional financial support by teaching English and French online with Italki (in case you’re keen to brush up on your language skills). What this shows us and what Sarah-Louise’s quick-thinking and adaptation to an ever-shifting landscape demonstrates, is that giving up on your dream and retraining in a completely different sector doesn’t have to be the only course of action in these troubling times.

As Leadership Coach Rob Smith at Ollivier People & Development told me, “exploring your skillset, adapting to and embracing shifting professional norms, and reaching out to your network are key for your professional development – in both normal and uncertain times – don’t survive, thrive!”

Advice well-heeded by Sarah-Louise Koessler and, I can only hope, other young creatives with dreams, passions and aspirations. So, as we await her new collection, I’ll hang on to her words of encouragement: “I’ve learnt that, with all these changes, you cannot know the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. So, you just have to go for it!” Hear, hear.

Instagram: @Sarah_Louise_Designs
Graduate Fashion Foundation

Some behind-the-scenes imagery from a recent shoot she did here in the Algarve.


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