Most fashion designers today have attended some kind of art school. There are a number of well known fashion design schools worldwide. Possibly the most famous is Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London. Alumni of St Martins include John Galliano, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, Arkadius and Hussein Chalayan. Other notable London Fashion Schools include the London College of Fashion,The Royal College of Arts in London and the University of Westminster, whose alumni include Vivienne Westwood, Christopher Bailey, and Stuart Vevers.
Notable American fashion design schools include Parsons The New School for Design and Fashion Institute of Technology (F.I.T.) in New York City, Lasell College in Newton, Massachusetts, Drexel University and Moore College in Philadelphia, Woodbury University, The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (F.I.D.M) and A.I.U. in Los Angeles alumns include Uriel Saenz and Ashley Paige, and more specialized in French Haute Couture techniques, Academy of Couture Art in West Hollywood. According to the annual survey from US News, Parsons has recently lost its position as the top school in the U.S. for graduate art programs; now the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (S.A.I.C) has shifted up in the list and taken its place. This is being attributed to Parsons' loss of Tim Gunn as a faculty member of their fashion program, who resigned to become the Creative Director for Liz Claiborne. SAIC: Founded as the Chicago Academy of Design in 1866 by a collective of studio artists, the institution went through many changes before the turn of the century, some necessitated by the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The collecting arm of the School was founded in 1872, and The Art Institute of Chicago was born in 1882 to accommodate a distinct museum and school. The Art Institute moved to its current iconic location on Michigan Avenue after the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893, and it remains the largest museum-school partnership in the country. Notable fashion alumi include Halston, Gemma Kahng, and Cynthia Rowley.
A another example would be the very prestigious Pakistan School of Fashion Design (PSFD). PSFD is a graduate school for fashion design located in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. The school was founded in 1995 and is known as the preeminent fashion school in Pakistan. PSFD was the first institution to offer graduate training in fashion design in Pakistan. It is affiliated with Les Ecoles de la Chambre Syndicale Parisienne in Paris, France.
In 2006, the PSFD and the French Federation for Ready to Wear Women Garments (FFPAPF) decided to formalize cooperation and collaboration for the exchange of knowledge and skills and promotion of business between France and Pakistan's garment industries. The agreement envisages a programme for development of the PSFD into a modern international fashion marketing institute, which could support and prepare Pakistan’s garment industry for the international market. It also creates links between the Pakistan and French garment industries for exchange of information, awareness raising, delegations and seminars.
The most famous institute on the Indian subcontinent is National Institute of Fashion Technology (N.I.F.T.). NIFT has 8 centers across India and their New Delhi Center is regarded as the best fashion school on the Indian subcontinent. NIFT is planning to come up with at least 2 more centres in the North Indian city of Patna and in Kerala in South India. The School of Fashion Technology (SOFT) in Pune has a three year degree course in fashion apparel design. It has diploma courses as well. The Pearl Academy of Fashion has 5 centres in India and one in the UAE.
Most fashion design courses last for three years. As well as teaching students about the artistic and technical side of the subject, some courses include a year working in the fashion industry, to give students a taste of commercial fashion design. Others offer the chance to visit fashion houses abroad. At the end of their final year most students produce a collection which is then shown to buyers and prospective employers at the college show. To keep cost down, each collection consists of around three to eight outfits (the number varies from college to college). To put across a consistent and memorable look within this limited range of garments, students specialize in one particular area. Many colleges enter students for design competitions, sponsored by clothing or fabric companies.
Most of the time, people who want to become top designers will work with other designers and gain hands-on experience.