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Kingston University womenswear designer returns from fashion capital of Paris to join frontline battle against Covid-19

Posted Monday 14 September 2020

Kingston University womenswear designer returns from fashion capital of Paris to join frontline battle against Covid-19

From interning with French fashion house Chanel to working on a busy hospital ward, a talented graduate designer from Kingston University has swapped haute couture for scrubs to help support the NHS in the battle against coronavirus.

Two weeks before lockdown, Megan Greenfield had just finished a six month design internship with leading French fashion house Chanel, and was part way through the recruitment process for a design role in men's embroidery with another leading fashion company.

However, as the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the 24 year old's career aspirations were put on hold - and she decided to return to her hometown of Portsmouth and use her skills to help on the frontline.

Securing a role at Solent NHS Trust as a ward clerk at St Mary's Hospital, her working life had taken an unexpected but rewarding turn, according to Megan, who graduated with a First Class Fashion BA(Hons) degree from Kingston School of Art in 2019.

"I am so happy to have had a chance to give something back during the pandemic," she said. "Working with strong characters in the fashion industry taught me how to present myself confidently - even when I didn't feel it - and that has been so useful in helping build trust and establish myself in this new role at the hospital."

As ward clerk, Megan supported the nurses on the ward during what was an incredibly busy period by carrying out non-patient facing tasks such as admitting and discharging patients, keeping medical records up-to-date, arranging care packages and organising transportation to and from hospital with the equipment patients need.  

One of the looks designed by Megan Greenfield during her time as a Kingston University BA fashion student.One of the looks designed by Megan Greenfield during her time as a Kingston University BA fashion student.

 "I've been responsible for ensuring nurses have access to a constant stock of PPE, sampling swabs, and a whole range of other tasks - just helping out as much as I can," she said. "I've also helped link patients to care workers and connect patients to their families online due to them not being allowed to visit, trying to make it as easy as possible for them to stay in touch. Sometimes we had to be creative - such as setting up email contact for a deaf patient, so her family could send her pictures from their day to day life of what they were doing during lockdown, which really helped her."

When Megan was working in Paris for Chanel, she was part of the creative design team in the textiles studio, where she researched and presented original handmade swatches and proposals to the creative director. "Each design team has a unique way of working, so getting familiar with Chanel's design process and the brands' historical story, culture and concept was very interesting. I also got to assist international suppliers to prepare work and concepts in time for the runway show," she said.

Megan is looking forward to returning to the creative world and securing a permanent design role in a fashion house, but spoke of the impact working at a hospital during the Covid-19 outbreak had had on her - and shared advice with other graduates whose careers have also been put on hold.

"It's not something I ever imagined doing but I really enjoyed the chance to make a difference and met so many interesting people, both staff and patients," she said. "While working at the hospital, I started my own jewellery collection and it's been nice to have a personal project to work on, I have felt a lot freer. I am always trying to better myself, always wanting to learn and try new things. To anyone in this position, I would just say be patient, everything happens for a reason. This situation isn't forever, even though it might seem like it right now."

During the second year of her course at Kingston School of Art, Megan won the Anne Tyrell Student Design Award, and was one of the graduating students featured in Vogue Talents - Vogue Italia's annual selection of up-and-coming young designers.

Megan's talent and application shone through during her studies, according to associate professor Elinor Renfrew, who was Kingston School of Art's head of fashion during her time at the University. "Megan was an award-winning student during her time with us. She has the intelligence, creativity, management skills and attention to detail of which, I'm sure, made her an outstanding member of the St Mary's Hospital team during these difficult times."

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