DEBUT Student Robin Giles Had a Career in Police Dispatch and 911 Call Taking Prior to Becoming a Fashion Designer
Raised in Mississippi, Florida, and Wisconsin, Advanced Fashion Design Student Robin Giles arrived at FIDM with an unusual backstory. Prior to becoming a fashion designer and developing her first androgynous athleisure collection, Robin worked in police dispatch and 911 and non-emergency call taking for four years. “So many people were telling me that I was coming across as someone who should look for a more creative job,” she said. “I eventually thought there must be something to it.” We chatted with Robin about her DEBUT designs, past education, and how she’s finding support during the coronavirus pandemic.
Tell us about your DEBUT collection: The title for my collection is "1992" and the initial inspiration was my interpretation of how the characters in the sci-fi novel Ubik, by Philip K. Dick, might have dressed. Eventually, I dropped that exact concept, but the virtual reality and retro-futuristic, 1990s cyberpunk themes that were present in the book remained. My pieces are meant to be casual athletic/leisure wear that are versatile and androgynous. I'm using a neon lime green color, along with shades of black to grey to white. Some details that I hope people notice are patterned squares that indicate something being pixelated, quilting that represents wire frame art, and some repeated design elements that are indicative of an object being copied and pasted. Many of the garments’ details also pull from motocross apparel, which is trending for Spring/Summer 2021 and works well with my inspiration and athletic lean.
What was your path to FIDM? I'd describe my FIDM education as something I'm doing for myself after several years of trying to curate my education and work experience into something that ultimately wasn't for me. My prior educational experience includes a B.A in Psychology, a minor in GLBT Studies, a professional certificate in AODA counseling, and about a year and a half of graduate school working towards a Master of Social Work. Throughout my education, I spent most of my free time thinking about clothes and sewing. After leaving school, I spent about four years working in police dispatch and police/fire/EMS 911 and non-emergency call taking. I truly like doing that work and was prepared to remain there for the long haul, but also felt like it wasn't a job that really utilized what my skills are. I picked FIDM because of the Professional Designation Program, positive experience with admissions, and location in Downtown Los Angeles.
How is FIDM helping you get closer to your career goals? FIDM has a staff with an impressive history in the fashion business. I really enjoyed all the classes and learned a lot about an industry that is very different from my own work history and experience. As with most things, FIDM gave me some tools and it's ultimately up to me how I use them, but the staff and support from the school really are invaluable at getting into the industry.
No one could have imagined a global pandemic would force DEBUT to be cancelled. How are you supporting one another or comforting yourself during this difficult time? I'm lucky to have a partner who already worked from home and is supporting us with his “business as usual.” I have not heard him complain a single time about me suddenly being at home 24-7, puttering around, trying to keep busy. I'm doing what I can to keep the household load off him while working on my portfolio and checking on the status of Downtown LA. My heart goes out to anyone out of work right now or anyone in a difficult situation because of the pandemic.
What do you hope people take away when seeing your designs? Short answer: I wouldn't mind people taking away my designs and leaving me some money. I'd like for people to see how hard I worked and that every piece is handmade by me. I hope they see that I'm creative and versatile at designing; I really do enjoy just the act of designing and would be happy to have almost any job where I get to be creative and work with clothing. Hopefully everyone will see that I love what I do, and I love to work hard.
FIDM regrets that, due to precautionary measures brought on by coronavirus, or COVID-19, we are canceling this year’s DEBUT and related events. In compliance with government recommendations, we plan to reschedule the event when it is possible to do so. We take the safety of our guests, students, staff, and faculty very seriously and thank you in advance for your understanding during this uncertain time.
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