Friday, 15 November 2013

FRA/Harrods - Work Experience Evaluation

I arrived on 30/10/13 to the final stages of the Windows Team installation of Christmas windows before the
'big unveiling' on 1st November and the Christmas parade. With this department I installed 2 small Chloe Sunglasses windows; we made a luxury carriage seat, upholstering with a purple and gold fabric, and placed the props and product. I also had the opportunity to go into the main windows. Primarily I was instructed to clean the props due to the construction work creating dust in the windows but this still taught me about the importance of perfection whatever the cost maybe, which is invaluable in VM.

Of all the teams I preferred working in Fashion as the tasks made me feel like I was a full time employee rather than a temporary one: I felt welcomed and valued as a team member.The work itself was very structured; a typical day consisted of 8-10.30am mannequin dressing, 11am-1pm meetings with buyers and managers, and 2-4.30pm choosing clothes for the mannequin dressing the following day. I was given the opportunity to pick the styling of mannequins on a daily basis; this taught me a lot on commercial styling and the importance of the sales figures: responding by pushing certain garments on the mannequins. I was also able to accompany the team in choosing and assembling products in the Harrods Gift Bureau, which showed the variations of Visual Merchandising and that it wasn't only limited to mannequins.

My final week was spent with the VM Home department. This experience was my first taste of professionally styling of home wares and it was interesting to see the similarities and differences between fashion and home wares. Some of the same principles were applied; repetition, variation of height and the emphasis on the one off and/or interesting pieces. In this department I felt out of my depth in terms of offering my own opinion to the team as my lack of experience had let me down, however being in the presence of experts allowed me to build up techniques. One of the large scale tasks I was given was in relation to their upcoming install for the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge; myself and the team made the festive garlands for the Christmas trees, which again reflected the bespoke services and varied sides to the VM at Harrods.

During my time at Harrods I met with the Director of Store Image, Mark Briggs; Meeting with someone who has worked up through visual merchandising at Harrods from Trainee to Director was inspiring to a student like myself and reflected the longevity and credibility of a career at Harrods and Visual Merchandising universally.

The 3 weeks work experience immensely valuable to me, as it was my first experience of professional visual merchandising. Furthermore, I will be returning weekly to Harrods in Feburary for a 3 month internship with the Fashion team, as I enjoyed it and desire to build up my styling portfolio.