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Fashion designed to build confidence

30 May, 2019 — By John Gulliver

Fashion workshop students Stephanie and Sienna, both 10, from Carlton Primary; Lewis, 9, from Gospel Oak Primary; Lily Alice, 16, from St Marylebone Girls’ School; with Debbi Clark and Melanie Press (right). Photo: Paul Romans

CHILDREN whose gifts and talents can pass unnoticed are being given a chance by an inspiring project in Queen’s Crescent, Kentish Town – a “workshop” club run by Debbi Clark whom I have written about before.

Called the Hubert von Herkomer Foundation, named after a great German painter, it opens its doors to local children in the evenings and weekends teaching art, photography and fashion design.

It’s to be found in a small room in Ashdown Crescent which the council gave rent-free to the Foundation after a local campaign following a spate of knife-crime and the need to improve youth facilities.

On Sunday it ran a workshop headed by a leading fashion designer Melanie Press, who introduced them to the demands of the fashion world – how to dress their designs onto a template known as a “croquis”, how to work to deadlines, then present their designs in role-play.

Melanie, who opened a successful boutique in Primrose Hill, and is a well known designer, studied at St Martin’s School of Art, worked in New York, and designed for the Ralph Lauren label, clearly believes in the importance of giving the children who use the club a chance – something they’d probably never get elsewhere.

“The fashion industry is a large one and there are opportunities for young people,” she told me.

What about competition? Not having the right background? But Melanie believes “fear” holds people back. Confidence, optimism – these are qualities, she believes, that create their own opportunities.

Her philosophy, it seems, fits in with the ethos of the Foundation.

But it clearly needs more support from the council.

How long will it take for the Town Hall to recognise this?

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