I’ve been a mentor on the fashion programme for TiCE for three years, but this is the first year I’ve been able to be involved from the start.  I’ve heard the other fashion mentors talking about the Insight stage and how much fun everyone has on the day, but this year was my first time. And now I can see what all the buzz is about.

Fashion mentor Charly and I arrived at Longbenton High School early one morning in late December last year and had a hilarious time trying to manhandle six mannequins, one trailer filled with fabrics and a huge pile of newspapers into the school.

As we set up the room, ready for the session, I began to get an idea of the broad scope of the day. First, there were the sheets of exercises for each student to fill in, then came the PowerPoint presentation, which we had to check would work on the classroom screen and the sheets of elegant fashion model templates. So far, so good. Then the bell went and, our arms still filled with piles of newspapers, we welcomed our students for the day.

The TiCE Fashion Insight stage has been developed to give students a taste of the breadth of opportunity in the fashion industry and to highlight just how many roles there are within the fashion and textiles sector. The day is also designed to make sure that everyone has a whole heap of fun, with a Q&A session, an introduction to industry mood boards, fashion drawing and – after lunch – a hands-on creative session with papier-maché, glue, paints and fabric.

As everyone found a seat, the day began. We worked with five groups of pupils and started off with a presentation about fashion and textiles, which explores the difference between the two areas.

Then we spoke about trends and trend forecasting, and we looked at how to use a mood board. Charly is a professional textile designer as well as a TiCE mentor, and she described how she extracts details from mood boards to develop products that will meet consumer demand years in advance of actual sales.

The morning session was very much learning based, and the students warmed to the wealth of opportunities they could see in the fashion industry, linking their favourite subjects to some of the very varied roles on offer.

The afternoon session saw all hands on deck, with students learning how to make a basic calico bodice for a garment, how to fit that bodice to a human figure and then how to interpret their morning’s work into an actual piece of clothing. Soon the room was filled with the sounds of ripping newspaper, squirty glue and calls for more pins. There was a crisis involving red paint – or a lack of – which one of the teams solved beautifully with a decision to add a pink hue to their outfit and then, all too soon, the final bell rang and it was time to pack everything away.

Thanks, Longbenton, you were fantastic and we have the photographs of your beautiful creations to prove it. From an off-the-shoulder ballgown to fringed skirt, a kilted tuxedo to a caped bodice – you worked like true fashionistas!