Customisation with Sex and the City’s Selena Francis-Bryden

Hi, I'm LCS student Stef Perez. 'Customisation' is a term I didn't really understand until being given my first assignment to customise a t-shirt on day one at the London College of Style. The queen of customisation herself is Selena Francis-Bryden, who has worked with Sir Paul Smith, Dolce & Gabbana and even designed her own range for high street retailer Topshop as well as designing creations for Sex and the City star SJP. She came in to teach a class on the different techniques of altering clothes and accessories to either turn them into something completely different or make them our own by adding embellishments. This didn't seem like an easy task at first, however with guidance from Selena and examples of how to use various bits that we all have lying around the house, I was able to take on the challenge. I customised a plain white t-shirt by cropping it and cutting sections out of the sides. I sewed on bits of old bath plug chains and bits of lace from and old top I had. I also used some old necklaces and cut them into smaller lengths to sew onto the shoulders. Lastly, I decided to tie-dye it and completely change the colour. Here's a photo!

Since then I've also managed to customise an old hat I was given in class, and turn it into a handbag.

Now I know never to throw anything out again. Instead I keep everything to re-use in various ways to customise. It's interesting that I look at all old clothes and accessories in a totally different light now thanks to Selena. Now I'm forever seeing things that are too big, or a little tatty and thinking to myself, 'that's ok, I can take this in, or add this, or cut this out and give it a new lease of life.'

Here's a useful website for tips on customisation:


And here's the link to Selena's website and blog so you can have a look at the other students' first attempts at customisation:


At LCS we have learnt that being able to customise at the drop of a hat is an important element to being a successful stylist and very often I'll be required to turn an item into something else. This is certainly a skill that I hope to develop further and a way to have some fun with old clothes. Selena kindly gave us all a signed copy of her book DIY Fashion, which gives guidance and step by step instructions on how to customise your basics into designer-worthy gear. Check it out on the Amazon website (and of course, at all good stockists). For those of you that have a creative fashion streak, go out, buy it and get cracking!

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