This year, the MA Graduates were asked to respond to the concept of Zero Gravity as their final exhibition theme. Here, a few students from the MA Fashion Curation course reflect on how they responded.
My initial response to the theme of zero gravity was to focus on the notion of weightlessness. To me it brought to mind a more intangible, ephemeral aspect of clothing, namely the absent body of the wearers of garments kept in archives and the narratives of those individuals. The shirt used for my display belonged to my grandfather. By placing it in a suspended archive box with the cuffs and collars hanging above the shirt, I sought to evoke a ghostly aspect, with the photograph of my grandfather giving a clue as to the life of the now departed wearer. Lisa Mason
Collaborating with other students to curate our own exhibition is exciting yet full of challenge in which everyone, no doubt, has their personal perspective and approach around the theme. However, we might or might not get along with others’ ideas. As it was, this exhibition provided a unique opportunity, which encouraged us to tap what we learnt into our exhibition practice. Also, I understand, as a curator, that you may believe in your idea, but you have to learn how to compromise with your teammates. Meanwhile, hands-on exhibition-installation practice, which compensated for not having much of a chance to get our hands dirty curating and installing exhibitions during the course, requires practical as well as theoretical considerations. In addition, for what it’s worth, I could imagine a much more thought-through exhibition, if we had had more time preparing. Yang Wang
My original ideas focused on 1960s space age fashion but very soon our group took a more conceptual approach, exploring ideas of weightlessness. This inspired me to think about traces from the past and how historical fashions can evoke memories of different social times. The Edwardian young girl’s dress I curated for this exhibition reminded me of a more carefree childhood, not weighed down by the responsibilities and problems facing today’s youth. Susan Bishop
My idea was focused on playfulness or freedom of weightlessness, as my personal feeling about ‘zero gravity’ or ‘life after the graduation’ was missing this positive part. I wanted to find examples who takes risk and enjoys the floating situation. As I came across with the sentences about dancing girls against the Spirit of Gravity from Thus spake Zarathustra, it reminded me trapeze artists. I wanted to address how the garment empowered the pioneer acrobat and later it has evolved into different performance and sports wear. The shadow of trapeze artists was projected to evoke the movement and story behind the object. Soo Jin Park
My interpretation of Zero Gravity was to consider the parts of the body defy which gravity. I selected a full-length, strapless linen dress designed by Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto. The wearer needs gravity defying breasts in order inhabit a garment which has no boning. I wanted to incorporate a touch of humour as well as a wistful backward glance at my younger and firmer self who would have worn such a dress without a blush. Belinda Naylor
When I heard that we were creating an exhibition under the theme ‘Zero Gravity’ my immediate thought went to tangible objects collected and intangible objects portrayed. In this case, I chose a portrait by Peter Paul Rubens from 1606 where a traditional ruff is as fetching as his subject: the Marchesa Brigida Spinola Doria’s mysterious smile. Using my particular curatorial intervention, I wanted to blend womenswear design and creative direction through visual interpretation. In order to do this, I took the approach of extending the painted object into physical form, thus highlighting museum collecting and textile conservation methods. Celia Reyer
Gravity is an intangible and inescapable force which affects all being and objects. I chose to approach the theme of Zero Gravity literally, and consider the disposition of an object when gravity is not present. I wanted to display an object by London milliner Philip Treacy as he is commonly known for his ability to defy gravity though his innovative designs. This hat by Treacy in 1991 for the couture house of Norman Hartnell exemplifies zero gravity by the use of ethereal silk tulle and a feather light wire frame. This object was kindly lent by the LCF Archives, therefore there were limitations to my curatorial intervention. As a result I chose to display the hat on a calico head and hang the tulle drape with invisible fishing wire, creating the illusion the hat was floating off of the head and into the empty space. Philippa Allison
My knee-jerk reaction to the brief was influenced by humour: one scene from Mary Poppins – which sees Mary’s uncle Albert floating up to the ceiling whenever he laughs – immediately sprang to mind.
I was inspired by a court heel belonging to LCF’s rich archive, dated to be made in the late 1960s. Made of black velvet with a simple leather tab, it initially evokes a pragmatism and aesthetic which reminded me of Mary Poppins herself. However, the shoe lacks a heel with the extension of the sole’s forepart which subverts all sense of practicality, encouraging the wearer to defy gravity.
Due to conservational issues, the methods of display were restricted to being placed on a plinth and within a perspex box. Whilst the restriction was initially challenging, it equally made certain curatorial decisions much simpler.
To entwine the playful interpretation with defying gravity, I applied a vinyl illustration of a flamingo next to the shoe. ‘Floating’ just above the surface of the plinth, my hope was that visitors would make the playful association between the two objects.