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News > School > Emily Chung (Class of 2017)

Emily Chung (Class of 2017)

We recently caught up with Emily Chung (Class of 2017) who is having a great time working as a costume designer. Read more to find out what she's been up to and how Habs Girls helped her on her way.
18 Nov 2020
Emily Chung (Class of 2017)
Emily Chung (Class of 2017)

What did you study at A Level?

I studied Maths, Art and Classical Civilisation

Why did you choose the degree you pursued?

To be honest, I didn’t actually intend on studying Costume Design, I was actually really set on wanting to study Fashion Design and more specifically, Fashion Design at Central Saint Martins. The plan was to do a foundation year (which is mostly required for most art and design BA courses) but long story short, I didn’t get into the one foundation course that I had applied and wanted to get into. On the other hand, even though I had planned to do a foundation course, I still had to put a few universities down and submit a UCAS application and so I had applied for 3 fashion/textiles BA courses and my costume design course, which I thought “why not? I love both film and fashion” – all of these courses didn’t require an art foundation. The application process took a while as a lot of it was based on your own portfolio and I remember spending a lot of my time trying to create an extra fashion portfolio/project to add to my existing art portfolio, which was mostly fine art based. When I received the offer from London College of Fashion to study Costume for Performance, I was still very excited to be accepted by a college that was part of University of the Arts London and so, I went for the Costume Design course and never looked back!

When did you know you wanted to work in Costume design?

During my first few days of studying at LCF, I remember being really fond of listening to my tutors talk about their days of working on film sets and seeing all of the incredible work that they had created, and it all made me rather excited about things to look forward to if I were to work in Costume. To be honest, I did struggle a bit during my first and second year as I didn’t have much sewing experience prior to starting at LCF.  There were many times I wanted to quit and drop out from costume as many of my fellow classmates were more experienced than me and I felt it really hard to catch up to them, but the one experience that really stuck with me and made me want to work in Costume was when I was able to get work experience on the new James Bond movie, ‘No Time to Die’. Being able to see how the costume department worked and how there were different departments within costume, made me more intrigued and eager to learn more. Moreover, being on set and watching the filming process for the first time, definitely cemented the idea of wanting to work in film as a career.

How did you get your big break?

It was during our second year when we had to look for an industry placement as part of our course unit, and I had emailed quite a few industry professionals via LinkedIn, who were working in the costume department for film. The assistant designer for No Time to Die was so lovely and was able to take me in for work experience, then as I finished my placement, I was asked to come back as trainee for the summer. As a trainee, you can be doing a wide range of jobs, from sewing alterations, helping in crowd (costumes for extras), assisting the breakdown department, to delivering costumes to set.  It was an amazing first experience and a great opportunity to connect and meet lots of different industry people.

After Bond, I worked on the Crown Season 4 during December to help with the Crowd department, then in January the Head buyer for Bond contacted me to ask if I could come in for a few days a week to assist the buying department for Jurassic World: Dominion.  As I was in my final year of uni it was rather difficult juggling both at the same time, so I had to stop after a month to concentrate on my final unit. Fast forward to after lockdown, at the end of June I was asked to jump back on to Jurassic as a Buying department PA (production assistant), the role consisted of a lot of logging and returning of shop bought items, heavy post runs (!) and general maintenance of the costume department. Though the logging and returning seemed endless, it was a great opportunity to observe the buying side of things as well as see how they collaborate with the design team.

What are the best and worst bits of your job?

I would say the worst part of the job are the long unsociable hours. But aside from that, I love the fact that every day is unpredictable, and the best bit is watching your department work together and then seeing the final product in front of the camera – it’s certainly a magical moment!

What are you looking forward to next?

Working on my upcoming projects - with one being a Disney film! I will be working as a Design PA for Joanna Johnston, who is a renowned Costume Designer known to design costumes for movies such as Forrest Gump, Back to the Future and Love Actually. I am really excited to learn from the legend herself and over time, look forward to working towards moving up in the department.

What do you remember most about your time at Habs Girls?

Action Week and St Kate’s Day were both big highlights every year, they were both such wonderful occasions where you could really see the whole school work together to create big memorable events. It was so much fun to see teachers and the sixth formers dress up, classrooms decorated, lots of pizza and snacks and best of all, the teachers putting on AMAZING performances for all the students! Aside from this, my most precious memory is the incredible support I received from Mrs Wallace and Mrs Deamer during sixth form. I would never have been able to get to where I am today if it weren’t for both tutors pushing me to go for my costume course and most importantly, letting me sneak off to the art department to work on my portfolios and projects. THANK YOU to my forever favourite tutors.

What advice would you give our current students, especially those thinking about their A level and university choices?

Go with what you know that you enjoy, because your university years are the best years of your lives before you settle into the adult world.  Choosing a course at university doesn’t mean you will have to stick with that subject as a career so definitely go for a subject that YOU KNOW that you enjoy and not what others want you to do.

Is there anything you would have done differently or wish you’d known sooner?

I would not have given myself as much of a hard time comparing myself to others. I spent most of my senior school years being upset at myself for not doing as well as my peers and it would constantly eat me up and make me value myself a lot less. Everyone is their own person who is on their own rollercoaster of life – pursue what you have a real passion for even though the journey can be bumpy and consist of ups and downs, but just remember that you’ll eventually reach your destination with satisfaction if you work hard!


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