- Middle East/North Africa
Launched to fill the fashion education void in Egypt, the Young Fashion Academy (YFA) is a comprehensive program aiming to introduce talented children to the fascinating world of fashion — and also teach them professional skills.
“Girls usually start to show an interest in fashion trends at a young age. But there is a lack of professional courses in the country that can teach them a basic understanding of the nature of fashion and put them on the path toward a creative career,” explains Tamr Adly Rizkallah, fashion designer and founder of YFA.
The academy held its first classes in June, offering both a short and long course to give students the opportunity to choose the one that best suits their needs. Both courses include hands-on experience and theoretical study, and target children and young people aged from 9 to 17 years old.
The one-month short course usually revolves around a specific theme, like beachwear or fall/winter trends, depending on when the course is held.
The long course lasts for up to two years. Students acquire in-depth design knowledge addressing the many diverse areas in the fashion industry, introduced in simplified teaching methods to suit the young participants.
The academy puts a special emphasis on the basics of design, including sketching, rendering and illustrating, as well as patternmaking and sewing.
“During the first phase of the program, students get a background on the different kinds of fabrics, how to incorporate them into their designs and a step-by-step patternmaking process,” Rizkallah says.
The program gives students a window into the world of global trends and high street fashion, as well as honing their research skills and helping them find inspiration for their own pieces.
“The sky is the limit when it comes to the design they want to work on, whether it’s a dress they saw in a magazine, a country costume or a favorite Halloween costume,” says Rizkallah. “The program is a learning journey that allows each student to create a unique sense of style based on stretching their imaginations and exploring fashion variations.”
Doaa Arafa, whose daughter, Noor, participated in the YFA program, believes her mastering the basics of fashion design at the age of 10 was quite an achievement.
“She not only had fun, but was also able to express herself freely by demonstrating her artistic skills through designing simple accessories such as a bag,” Arafa says, adding that children feel confident and proud when making a masterpiece with their own hands.
The program is particularly geared toward providing real work experience with each student having to produce their own piece at the end of the course. Students whose designs are particularly attractive will have their work showcased next summer at a fashion show held by the academy.
Abeer al-Gamal, mother of 16-year-old Nora, thinks the academy’s program fostered her daughter’s skills and desire to become a professional fashion designer in the future.
“My daughter has been fond of sketching since childhood, but the hands-on experience has encouraged her to seriously consider pursuing a professional career in the fashion industry, especially after being recognized for her talent,” Gamal says.
This piece was originally published in Egypt Independent's weekly print edition.