25 March 2022

University of East London MA International Fashion Business student Lucy Cooper recently swapped her life as a student on campus at the Royal Docks for an intern position at a pioneering runway event on board a cruise ship docked in the Portofino Harbour as part of Milan Fashion Week.

She was one of only nine interns selected across Europe to work on the J Spring Fashion Show 2022: Italian Sky-High Ocean Catwalk - billed as the world's first sustainable ocean catwalk - where she helped backstage with the fashion models, interviewed designers and created social media content for the VIP event.

Organised by fashion icon Jessica Minh Anh, founder of renowned fashion PR and events company JMA Global, the J Spring Fashion Show 2022 raised the bar by transforming the newest Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)-powered cruise ship into a glamorous runway.

The Costa Toscana is one of the new fleet of ocean liners powered by LNG - the most advanced technology to reduce emissions currently.

Against the cinematic backdrop of the Italian Riviera, the production premiered a combination of haute couture and ready-to-wear collections from international fashion designers while sending an important message about sustainability and tourism.

Lucy was given the opportunity to participate in the iconic event as a result of UEL's global industry connections.

Her postgraduate programme director, Kent Le, of the School of Arts and Creative Industries, said, "In February, I was approached by Rebecca Davis, HR director of JMA Global, with whom I have strong ties. She explained their plan to organise the first catwalk show ever in the middle of the sea and asked UEL for help to pick some of the best interns to support the show.

"All postgraduate fashion students were invited to apply for the internships and the shortlisted candidates went on to virtual interviews and portfolio assessments. Lucy was successful, offered the internship and within two weeks of the interview she packed her clothes and headed to Italy.

"It was a wonderful opportunity to make connections and to learn from one of the world's leading fashion show producers, one that has revolutionised runways with extraordinary visual concepts and powerful messages."

Now back from Italy following her whirlwind experience, Lucy said, "The internship was an amazing and crazy experience. I was working directly for Jessica Minh Anh. She is such an inspiration, a real pioneer in the fashion industry.  I learned so much from her and from being part of the event.

"I was one of a group of interns who worked as backstage dressers and on PR. We were responsible for all the garments, fitting them on the models, altering them to fit if needed, and dressing the models during the actual show. We also worked on social media content. I was lucky enough to interview three of the designers.

"It was so much fun being on board the cruise ship and working on a show that's so, so different. I was surprised at how much responsibility we had and how they relied on us to run the whole show. It could be long hours and chaotic at times but a great experience I'll never forget."

She added: "I'm so grateful to UEL and to Kent Le for recommending me, and for the opportunity."

The J Spring Fashion Show 2022: Italian Sky-High Ocean Catwalk was run in collaboration with Costa Cruises as part of JMA Global’s sustainable ocean catwalks.

To get a flavour of Lucy's experience, check out her TikTok documenting the show.

Image: Some of the models that Lucy helped to dress

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