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a drawing made by Aniena Simone of a fairy with yellow and purple wings wearing a brown, green and white dress and holding a leaf where a tiny frog with a mushroom hat is hiding

Student Voices

Student Spotlight | Ani Simone

By UALHalls 15 Jun 2023

Meet Ani, a first year Costume for Performance student at LCF. 👗

Ani started at UAL on the Level 3 International: Introduction to the Study of Fashion foundation course in September of 2021 without really knowing what specialist subject she wanted to study.

Since then, she’s learnt and grown a lot in her work, and is currently a Costume for Performance student at LCF.  We spoke with her to find out more about her creative journey and inspiration.

What are you studying and what made you come to UAL?

I’ve just finished my first year on the Costume for Performance course at LCF.

I found out about UAL by looking at world-wide art school rankings. I initially liked that it was highly ranked, and then I did a bit more research. I’m from a rural area in the United States, so the fact that UAL was based in London was a big pull for me — I wanted to be able to travel and learn about the world through diverse experiences and relationships.

I got in contact with the UAL representative for the States and she suggested the IISF programme because, at the time of starting my application, I didn’t really understand what part of the industry would be the best fit for me.

a sketch of a girl smelling a flower and wearing a dress and a coat. only the coat is drawn and coloured

What was your experience on your Foundation programme like?

It was challenging, but also helped me and my work grow so much. The Foundation programme gave me a lot of tools and methods for development that I still use in my work today.

The programme was set up so that for the first term we were exposed to the business, media, and design parts of the industry. From the beginning of second term to the end of the year, we attended classes based on which area the tutors felt our skills were most suited to. I really liked this structure because it meant that I have an understanding — albeit, a vague one — of the business and media pathways, which I can apply to my own work.

The programme was strictly for International students as well, so I really enjoyed the connections I made with such a diverse group of people that I wouldn’t have met outside of IISF. I was able to make a lot of good friends and have interesting discussions that gave me a better understanding of the world around me.

a sketch of a girl wearing military inspired clothing

How did you decide that you wanted to study costume?

I actually decided I wanted to go into costume pretty early on in my Foundation programme. Even during my interview, the woman talking to me asked me if I’d thought about costume after I talked through some of my work and, at the time, I hadn’t.

Then by the end of my first term on IISF, a few of my tutors had said something very similar, and I figured that it would be the best fit for my general design aesthetic. So for the rest of the year, I was pretty set on studying costume. 

I’m also a massive bookworm, and I’m constantly coming up with characters and stories in my head. Costume gives me the space to tell stories through clothing.

At times, I’ve gotten so overwhelmed with the pressure and expectations of school and my own anxiety that I’ve doubted whether this is the right place for me. But I’ve determined through some thinking and discussions with my therapist that despite the challenges, I’m on the right track. 

Even though it’s difficult, I really do enjoy doing my coursework. Listening to costume designers speak about their practices really solidified this for me because it sounds so rewarding to work on a set and build relationships with creative people who are as devoted to the project as you are.

a series of sketches representing a dress and different ways it could be constructed

How has your experience on the Costume for Performance course been?

It’s been great. Like my foundation programme, it’s been challenging, but I’ve also learnt so much over the course of the year. 

We started with learning how to draft our own pattern, and built on that to make alterations, so now I know how to draft patterns for my own designs.

We did a few projects that covered the basics that every costume designer is expected to have an understanding of — things like corsets and bustles which are foundational garments because you can build on these skills to create all sorts of structures. 

There’s so much that I can do now that I wasn’t able to do before starting on the programme.

a picture of a mannequin bustle with a lilac flowery corset

What inspires you in your work?

In terms of fashion, I’m really into fashion history. There’s not one specific time period that I hone in on, more so I draw inspiration from different trends and details from various decades. 

I’m a big fan of anything that I consider to be pretty or visually interesting. I do really like Christian Dior’s work from the ‘40s and ‘50s. His “New Look” silhouette is one of my favourites and, more likely than not, the Junon gown can be found on any one of my mood boards.

I also do a lot of drawing and painting, and I think that things that inspire my 2-D work also contribute to my general design aesthetic. Right now, I’m really into J.C. Leyendecker’s work. 

Other artists that inspire me range from Cyarin/Laura Brouwers to Leonardo da Vinci. 

I’ve also found recently that stylised mushrooms and frogs have grown on me as I get more into the cottagecore aesthetic.

No matter what I’m creating, something that will always inspire me will be fairytales and fantasy. I have always been super into mythical creatures like mermaids and fairies, and most of what I surround myself with and therefore have an interest in creating is related to these themes. 

I love creating things that bring the feeling of magic into the world. I don’t think I’ll ever see a fairy in real life, but I can use my skills to almost alter reality and make the magic real in my own way.

a drawing of a blonde girl holding a book and wearing a pink dress with flower accents

If you want to follow Ani or check more of her work, make sure to follow her Instagram @artbyani524.

Do you have a story to tell, or are you working on a project that you'd like to share? Our Student Spotlight series is just the place for you! For more information, DM us (@UAL_HallsLife) on Instagram. We'd love to hear from you!