What’s On tries London College Of Fashion courses in Dubai and interviews two tutors in fashion design and visual merchandising. Get booking information.

What’s On spent a day with the London College Of Fashion’s marketing and social media expert Sharon Hughes on a Social Media For Fashion workshop.

The small class was made up of bloggers, designers and stylists, one of whom had travelled from Australia to attend. While our lack of a designer handbag placed us in the minority, the atmosphere was welcoming – no scary fashion folk here.

Spots on the LCF courses are limited, and the environment is less lecture hall, more group discussion. Despite the informal nature of the class, tutor Sharon conveyed a huge amount of information, garnered from her vast experience. We left the course having gained fresh insight into the impact savvy use of social media can have on a brand or business, a new vocabulary of quirky terms – Buffer and Feedly to name two – and renewed determination to save for that Chanel Boy bag.

May 16 to 28
Vida Hotel, Downtown Dubai, Dhs4,605. Tel: (050) 9150759. Metro: Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall. arts.ac.uk/fashion

We spoke to two of their tutors about fashion design and visual merchandising…

Visual merchandising
A veteran of 15 years in the visual merchandising industry, Sarah has worked for some of the UK’s biggest fashion retailers and launched international brands into new markets around the globe.

What is visual merchandising? It’s the art and design of retail. It’s about creating stimulating environments in which to present the product in an enticing way to the customer.

What attributes do you think a person needs to become successful in the field? Passion, creativity, an eye for detail and motivation. And plenty of stamina.

How do you think stores in the UAE compare with those in London? Retailing here has come a long way since I first landed in the Middle East around 13 years ago. World-class shopping malls have been built, which are at a competitive international level in terms of fashion brands and delivering the ultimate shopping experience.

Where do you like to shop in Dubai? I love The Dubai Mall – it has everything. I recently visited Level Shoe District, which must be the biggest shoe mall ever known. I also like to shop in the old town souks for a more cultural experience.

What’s your view of the fashion scene in the region? There is an emergence of individuality and entrepreneurship in Dubai with many independent fashion brands coming on to the scene. Fashion has become a way of life for people in Dubai and people are using it to express their personality, creativity and culture.

Fashion design
Not only have Richard’s clothes been worn by the likes of Sienna Miller and Florence Welch, he has collaborated with Meadham Kirchoff, Manolo Blahnik, and online shopping giant ASOS.

What are your impressions of the fashion scene here in the UAE? I think there is a willingness and hunger for something to happen. The atmosphere is very positive and supportive.

How does our street style differ to that in London? I think generally the women in Dubai dress more glamorously and dress up much more during the day. In London women can dress down in a very stylish way that doesn’t translate in Dubai.

What do you hope students will take away from your course? That anything inspiring can be used for design – be it a building or a bird – and that designers don’t generally look at other fashion garments to base their own designs on. That the research stage of design is fundamental – the foundation of any good design – and that a lot of prep work happens before anything can be designed.

Do you indulge in any retail therapy when in Dubai? I don’t have the time. I’m all about the food when I’m in Dubai.

Why do you love fashion? I love the craft of making clothes and how they are put together. For me, it is more about exquisite clothing, than the passing notion of ‘fashion’. Having said that, I love the constant turnover of ideas in fashion and the quest for the new.

What advice would you give to somebody embarking upon a career in fashion? Intern for as many designers as possible, and network like crazy, without coming across as pushy. If you want to start your own label don’t be in a rush – take your time, do your research, and be prepared for a rough, but fun, ride.