Q&A with Intro to Visual Merchandising Lecturer Denise Francis-Brown

FRA Lecturer Q&A


We spoke with FRA Associate Lecturer Denise Francis-Brown about all things Visual Merchandising – from career highlights to current favourite High Street store – here’s some food for thought for anyone thinking about career in the fashion retail industry or looking for a fashion short course…

1. Why Visual Merchandising?
I have always loved fashion and working in retail has given me the opportunity to combine my passion for styling and displaying merchandise.

2. What skills do you need to work in VM?
Working in VM it’s important to be creative and organised, and you need to be able to work as part of a team. Communicating with others is vital. Always be friendly with the staff on the shop floor aswell, you may need their help!

3. What are the biggest challenges of VM?
You have to be prepared to be flexible, no two days are the same - you could be dressing a window in London and next travelling aboard to open a new store or making props in a studio. This is challenging but fun!

4. Can you pick a career highlight? What was it?
Opening up the Jigsaw store on King Road and being the only VM person available to complete the job - this was challenging! I was buzzing when I finished dressing the last mannequin at two in the morning. I’d only been working on the job for three weeks at the time, so this was a highlight. The icing on the cake was I received a personal thank you letter from my VM Manger.

5. Which store on High Street is your favourite for their VM displays and why?
Zara, they dress their windows beautifully. The window displays always look so effective and the mannequins are styled flawlessly, and represent the brand perfectly.

6. In your opinion, which Department Store does the best window?
I love looking at department store windows at Christmas time. It’s a perfect time to go and get inspired if you are interested in VM. For 2016, I thought the John Lewis Christmas windows were excellent and an ex-student from the FRA designed this window!

7. Why would you recommend the Intro to VM Short Course?
Students have an opportunity to understand the basic principal of VM on this course. It is practically based so students get the chance to appreciate what it would be like to work in the industry. It also gives students a good insight into the VM job and many students progress to the traditional Level 4 Visual Merchandising or Level 4 Fast Track fashion courses after completing this Intro to VM course. It’s also ideal if you run your own shop and would like some VM technical techniques.

Visual merchandising courses run for three days. Our next Introduction to Visual Merchandising fashion short course is starting soon, full details are available from the course page.