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Vanity Fair showcase for former fashion student

A former fashion student is riding high in the career stakes after seeing her designs modelled by Hollywood actress Helena Bonham-Carter in a leading magazine.

Rosie Dennington completed the Extended Diploma in Fashion at City of Oxford College, part of Activate Learning, in 2010 before achieving a first class honours in fashion and costume at Birmingham City University.

The 23-year-old, who operates as Rosie Red Corsetry and Couture, has always admired Helena’s sense of style – a fact which prompted her father to send the actress's PA her university ‘look book’. The rest, as they say, is history.

Rosie said: “The first thing I knew was getting an email from Helena’s personal assistant inviting me to a meeting in London. I didn’t know what to expect, but I took along some dresses including the bird cage dress which I had designed and made in my final year of university.

“It was completely surreal. I had no idea I would be meeting her, but thought I should be prepared and of course the dresses just happened to be Helena’s size! It was incredible to meet her and after trying on the dress she asked if I would mind her wearing it for a photo shoot she had the following week. This turned out to be a shoot with Vanity Fair, shot by Mario Testino.

“It was an intense few weeks and the commission is now right at the top of my CV. It has since led to more work, including being part of a fashion shoot in Norway.

“My real love is still costume and ultimately I want to work in film and theatre. However this experience and exposure has certainly given me a good launch pad for my career.”

Rosie knew that her future lay in the creative industries while still at school. Her parents are both creative – dad is a musician and mum makes wedding cakes – but she felt that she should pursue the A-level route to get into the best universities.

She said: “I stayed on at school to do my first year of A-levels but felt it wasn’t right for me. I started researching the universities I wanted to apply to, and they all said that a good BTEC qualification was just as well regarded as A-levels for an arts-based degree. So I switched to the Extended Diploma in Fashion at college and loved it.

“It was like a fresh start - I enjoyed the more adult environment and being in the centre of Oxford. I started to take on work placements alongside my studies which were so much more relevant for my CV than being on the student council at school. I began to get real, practical experience that would support my application to university.

“We had the opportunity to get involved in the first Oxford Fashion Week, where I contributed to a catwalk show and fashion shoot and I learnt how to design, pattern cut and make my own pieces. When I got to university I found those who had come from college were much further ahead than those who had done the A-level route. While they were strong conceptually, they didn’t have the practical skills we had developed.”

Find out more about Rosie’s work and follow her story at