Business of Fashion
For fashion tutor, Nicole Dunne, fashion was, is and continues to be a family affair.
“My mother worked in Switzers on Grafton Street. Ironically, I ended up in a remarkably similar job at Brown Thomas. It’s always been a flare and in my blood.
“Now, I have a little girl and she loves clothes and changes her outfits every second of the day. It’s passed on from generation to generation in my family,” she said.
Nicole studied the course that she now teaches on.
“I did this course about 12 years ago. It’s good because I know what the students are going through because it’s still relatively the same as what I had learned there. It’s nice to see the different development that comes through it,” she said.
Before returning to Portobello in late 2021, Nicole worked in Brown Thomas for just over 13 years, gaining invaluable experience along the way.
“I worked in luxury fashion for over 13 years.
“I did design and styling for the Brown Thomas windows. I worked there for a long time.
“I’ve worked with different designers, Victoria Beckham, Zimmerman, Loewe.
“Also, Irish designers for different projects in Brown Thomas. Sarah O’Neill, Helen Cody, Colm Burke, and a bit with Louise Kennedy.
“I have a lot of experience in the finer details that would come with a retail display, Christmas windows and things that we’ve done in Brown Thomas,” she said.
Meeting Victoria Beckham was a career highlight for Nicole as well as working on the incredible Brown Thomas Creative team, and she is now back in Portobello to pass on the invaluable experience she has picked up over the years.
It was something that Nicole had some experience with in Brown Thomas.
“During my time in Brown Thomas, we did an internship with DIT. I would’ve had two interns every year. I enjoyed teaching them.
“I think a lot of what you do, it’s doing the practical aspect. I like informing people of the different things you can do with fashion. I think it’s also important to have that background as well.
“People go in and they think it’s really glamorous, but it’s also a lot of hard work. Some people don’t realise how intense it can be at times as well.
“I really enjoy meeting the students and understanding their different ideas and the creativity that they have. It’s a good way for them to express all the things they’ve learned in all the modules,” she said.
Nicole has thoroughly enjoyed her role with Portobello and says that seeing her students gain the knowledge she once did gives her immense satisfaction.
“I enjoy the very last class the most because it’s when the students do their exams. You can see what you’ve taught them throughout the 10 or 12 weeks and actually physically see what they’ve put together. I think that’s really nice.
“We also do some practical classes where we go out and look around the shops as well. They learn the theory and then they can go out and walk around and see it. The stuff they might not have ever really noticed walking around shops before. They get a different kind of interpretation of it.
“It’s about passing on all my knowledge to the students,” she said.
As someone who got their qualification to work in the fashion industry, Nicole believes it is of great benefit to get that experience before entering the industry.
“I think it’s really important. People look for that more so now. It’s great to get the experience.
“I think having Portobello on your CV, it’s highly regarded in the retail and fashion world. It’s good to have. One of the students I had recently told me that she had gotten a job through her qualification. They were happy to see she had been to Portobello.”