sidebar_151How do your beliefs influence what you wear? What do your clothes say about you?

These were some of the challenging questions posed to Muslim and Christian teenage girls at a three-day design course held by 3FF and the London College of Fashion (LCF) in July. Over three days, 16 girls from four schools across London explored faith, fashion and the creative journey.

The course followed several preparatory workshops with over 100 students from participating schools. The students who showed the most promise were selected for the three days of training at LCF. They were taught how to find inspiration for designs, develop ideas in a look book, and produce finished designs in their portfolios.

The course included a one-day session called “The Empty Hanger”, conceived by Revd Joanna Jepson, which looked at characters from scripture and how their stories relate to the issues and aspirations of young people today.

After the course ended, many of the girls said that they felt more confident, especially when drawing or sketching their own designs. “I’m more able to be inspired by something and combine things together to create something beautiful, so this was really helpful,” said Samma Mughal from the Al Risaala school in East London.

Her classmate, Fadlun Mohammed, said she learned that fashion was very versatile. “I learnt that fashion can come from anything – and religion doesn’t hold you back.”

sidebar_152The course also created new connections between faith communities. Some of the girls said that they had never known that someone who didn’t veil couldn’t be devout. When at one point during a lesson, Joanna put her clerical collar on, the girls expressed surprise. “It made me want to behave better,” said Sadiya Ali, from St George’s Catholic school in north London. “Because I realised that she was a religious person.”

“It just shows how faith and fashion are intrinsically linked,” Joanna said. “This programme was about creating a safe space to engage in meaningful dialogue and for the students to better understand their own identity and hear each other’s stories.”

If there was one thing the girls agreed on by the end of the three days, it was that the course was too short. Our School Linking team will definitely take that into account for next year’s programme!