Curator, Show Producer, Textile Designer and Mentor are just a few titles held by one of the country’s leading fashion and event management experts, Lee Lapthorne. Birmingham City University graduate, Lee recently produced the BCU graduate show at Graduate Fashion Week. He’ll also be producing the catwalk show for the official launch of the Inspired Festival on Tuesday 9 June. We caught up with Lee to find out more about how his typical day… 

What course did you study with BCU and how did you find it?

I actually studied the BA in Art and Design by Negotiated Studies at Bournville School of Art and then went onto study my MA in Textiles at UCE (BCU) winning a European bursary graduating proudly with a distinction, many years a go.

How did the course you studied help prepare you for your current job role?

I believe the self motivating direction of the BA Negotiated studies and all the negotiating I had to do on the course definitely comes in to play as my role as Director of both Doll and On|Off. I loved my MA studies which gave me the freedom to explore new ways of working and the opportunity to work / research across different departments of BIAD (Gosta Green). My work fused textiles with photography and graphics. I was always printing, running from the textiles print room into the photography department.

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What have you been up to since graduating?

So much – wow its been a journey. I have worked and travelled the world and continue to do so. I have successfully set up my own business based in London since 2002 www.thedoll.org and founded the event On|Off. I have also managed and designed my own menswear accessories collection www.leelapthorne.com. There have been many high points along the way.

Describe a typical day in your current job?

I live in the Essex countryside. I wake at 6.30am and check my emails. Walk the dog, water and feed the ducks and chickens and then catch my train into London – checking and writing emails as I travel. I then cycle to the office in Farringdon. My day is spent managing a number of live projects, managing my team, working on the accounts, actively searching for new business and my day is often packed with meetings. I try and pop to the gym during my lunch break to keep my mind and body fit. I normally leave the office at about 6.30pm and again check emails and then email as I travel. I get home at about 8pm – eat and I’m usually in bed by 10pm! Some evenings, I entertain our clients – typically taking them out to dinner to a swanky restaurant and getting home after midnight – having to then wake at 6.30am and doing it all over again…

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What or who inspires you?

People who are driven and stand by their convictions. I also listen to new music and try to keep an eye on contemporary music videos. I also organise “Ballet Club”, where a group of us take it in turns to invite the others out to contemporary new dance performances, usually at the Royal Opera House… I love contemporary dance / ballet as it encompasses a mixture of music, lighting, art direction, set build, costume/fashion. David Bintley of Birmingham Royal Ballet was a favourite of mine whilst I was studying at UCE (BCU). I also love live music and festivals. I am currently following Hofesh Shechter and Wayne McGregor.

What one piece of advice would you give to graduates today?

Success is not just based on being super creative. Work hard, have determination and take every opportunity you can to support your career.

What careers advice would you give to your 16 year-old self?

Believe in yourself.

Inspired Festival is the high point of our art and design calendar – a celebration of the creative output from the University, with a wealth of end of year shows and exhibitions and all open to the public. Find out more about the festival here.

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Sunny Gill

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