Fashion consultant to the stars collects honorary doctorate

A fashion leader who counts Victoria Beckham among her clients has praised De Montfort University Leicester’s (DMU) as being “a university that has community at its heart” as she received an honorary doctorate.

Avis Charles, whose high fashion consultancy Avis Charles Associates specialises in product development and technical expertise, began her career at Susan Small Haute Couture where clients included the British Royal Family and global celebrities.

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Passionate about mentoring and supporting young people in the fashion industry, she works with the Prince’s Trust and Women for Women International as well as running her own fashion and lifestyle brand KiVU to support women in developing countries.

Avis was made an Honorary Doctor of Arts in recognition of her tireless work to increase opportunities for young people around the world, which has encompassed an educational programme for design students and emerging designers in South Africa, as well as launching Fashion Week in Africa, now one of the biggest events in the continent’s fashion calendar.

In a speech to the graduations audience on Saturday, Dr Charles paid tribute to her “exceptional parents” whose values had been a blueprint for her life.

She said: “My parents instilled in me being civil and measured to people regardless of where they come from. This has been the blueprint of my life and career. It has allowed me to move effortlessly from run down-studios with artisans through to celebrity homes without missing a beat. I have chosen never to stop learning, contributing and staying relevant.

“Graduands, you are fortunate to have studied at one of the best universities in the world. De Montfort University has strategically created a foundation for success, lifelong learning, and the empowerment of all of us who seek to be a part of a university that has community at its heart. Our world is global. Your personal history and your culture matters, so let this shine through as you start this new chapter in your lives.

“Parents, family, friends - you are all here to celebrate all these amazing graduates – on their behalf I say thank you. To my family and friends, you have been my circle of excellence.  

“I leave you with the words of Jamaican activist Marcus Garvey, who said: ‘With confidence, you have won before you have even started.”  

Posted on Wednesday 13 September 2023

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