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Alanna Freedman Mahnke

We’re totally big into people that are following their dreams, one step at a time. We stopped Alanna Freedman Mahnke, a student at UVM that was accepted into London College of Fashion, to ask her a few questions about her exciting journey to come! Readers, take this as a source of motivation to reach your own personal goals.


How did you decide London College of Fashion?

I had originally been accepted to FIDM but decided that it would probably be a better idea to go to a four-year university and get your standard college education instead. I still really wanted to somehow study fashion and randomly one day googled the best fashion schools in the world and Central Saint Martins came up as number one (it is a college in the University of the Arts London). So I started doing my research and found out that in order to be accepted I had to complete a one-year program through London College of Fashion (another college within the university). So I applied, put together some of my sketches and during winter break I landed in San Diego (where I am from) and my mom and I rushed to LA so I could have my interview. I got accepted and originally planned to go my sophomore year but deferred because I thought it would make sense to go junior year because that is when most students study abroad. It means taking a leave of absence from UVM and somehow attempting to finish a double major in three years but I really want to do it and I know it will be worth it. I hate having regrets and I know I would absolutely regret it if I just continued my education at UVM and never made an attempt to make my dream happen (sorry if that sounds so corny).

What are your greatest influences in life and fashion?

Without a doubt my mom and dad. I always remember when they would get dressed to go out how fashionable and stylish they looked and I absolutely loved that. Just raiding my moms closet and finding outfits from the 70s or 80s that somehow have all come back in style is really cool too. In fashion, I love Grace Coddington and I think that Karl Lagerfeld, who is the designer for Chanel, is brilliant and so ridiculously fierce.

Where do you get your current trends and fashionable looks from?

Everywhere. People at school, magazines, and the styles I see are trending from fashion week. I also think there are certain looks that are just so classic and timeless that you can always wear it and not seem outdated.

What would you say is your expertise in the fashion field and where do you see yourself going with it? Can you explain to us your history in the fashion field that led you to making such an awesome choice to study abroad?

I have always loved fashion. My dad used to be a fashion photographer in Paris for a long time so maybe its just genetic or having grown up in a home that was really focused on art and photography that I found my way into the fashion realm. I am currently taking a history of fashion one on one course with the chair of the history department (Professor Zdatny) and it’s been really cool to learn about fashion through the ages, how it can be a reflection of the time period, and actually getting a better understanding of how the industry runs. I would ideally like to work for a fashion magazine as a creative director. I love styling and the idea of creating a vision with the photographer. I think Grace Coddington, who is the creative director for Vogue, is an absolute genius and her works are absolutely breathtaking.

What expectations are you holding for yourself during this experience? How do you hope to use the experience you gain in London in the future?

I just hope I get through it! My interview was at a long table with two people from London and I felt so intimidated by them! They told me from the start that the passing rate is extremely low for students and that many can’t really handle it. But that is a challenge I am ready to take. I am so grade driven that I would be so disappointed if I spent a year studying somewhere and then didn’t do well enough to actually get a degree there. So the goal is to pass (obviously), come back and finish my senior year at UVM and then return to London and get a degree there.

What do you think is going to the most difficult aspect of the experience?

I came to UVM from San Diego not knowing anyone and being in a place so far from home while all my friends stayed and went to schools in California. I think that going to London is pretty much going to be the same but a little worse because it is farther away. I am sure the work will be hard but you take things as they come and at the end of the day it’s a great experience and I just have to remind myself that when things seem hard.

What advice can you give someone with similar aspirations?

Make it happen!! I think the fashion industry is really clever at creating an allusion of it being this super chic, amazing industry and a lot of girls are drawn to this without really understanding how the business works. Yeah, it’s shallow and kids in Africa are dying while designers are concerned about what to do for their next collection or which photographs to run in their next issue. But if you understand that you are probably going to be getting people coffee and being someone’s bitch for a large part of your whole career then go for it. If you really want to work in the industry, do it! Or dip your feet in, that’s what I’m trying to do with this one-year program. Maybe I will realize that I don’t like it and I want to do something else. But you will never know if you don’t give it a chance.

What tip do you have for our readers about dressing in an area less concerned with fashion such as Vermont?

Dress however you want! I can understand how it can be hard to get dressed up here, I find myself not as concerned with what I wear here than I do at home in California. But it’s also great because our school is so diverse you can dress preppy one day, bohemian the next, or even wear sweats and you aren’t going to stick out like a sore thumb.


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