Category: Interviews (Page 1 of 4)

State of Fashion | searching for the new luxury

By Renee van der Hoek. MA Fashion Curation Alumni

This year marks my 5th year as a freelance fashion researcher and beginning curator since graduating with distinction from MA Fashion Curation at London College of Fashion in 2013, a course that provided me with skills and laid the foundation for my current practice.

The New Imaginations theme showed work of game changers such as Iris van Herpen and VIN+OMI. Image: Eva Broekema

Since then I’ve had the opportunity to write for independent fashion magazines such as Press & Fold and Monument, whilst also working on several fashion exhibitions here in the Netherlands. The last major exhibition I worked on and still continue to work for the platform itself is State of Fashion. This time last year I got the opportunity to work as the assistant curator at State of Fashion alongside curator José Teunissen (besides her work as an independent fashion curator she’s the Dean of the School of Design and Technology at London College of Fashion (UAL) and Professor of Fashion Theory).

The Interdisciplinary approaches theme showed new and innovative materials such as pineapple leather and AlgaeFabrics. Image: Eva Broekema

To briefly introduce State of Fashion, it’s the successor of the critically acclaimed Arnhem Mode Biennale (2005-2013) and was created to perpetuate its international reputation. State of Fashion is a platform that literally investigates the ‘state of fashion’ and addresses current topics that must be on the agenda of designers and companies, as well as NGOs, researchers, educational institutions and governments.  State of Fashion serves as a ‘safe space for dangerous ideas’. We want to inspire, unleash discussions and provide a stage for the disrupters and changemakers within the industry and beyond. Together we focus on the power of collaboration to create a more resilient, sustainable and inclusive industry.

Image: Eva Broekema

The first edition of State of Fashion, dubbed searching for the new luxury, took place from June 1st until July 22nd. For the exhibition narrative José Teunissen started a quest for a sustainable future for the fashion industry.  When I joined the team José had formed the framework of the exhibition, dividing it into 5 themes: New Imaginations, The Product and the Maker in the Spotlight, New business Models, Fashion Design for a Better World and Interdisciplinary Approaches. At that time the actual objects to illustrate the narrative had yet to be chosen. I had the opportunity to closely work together with José on the realisation of the exhibition. This process was a significant learning experience for me as I felt José and the team trusted me and gave me every opportunity to contribute and leave my mark. All the hard work resulted in an exhibition in which we displayed the work of around 50 designers, brands, projects, and initiatives. All focused on possible solutions to change the industry for the better, from innovative materials, transparent business models to designers shaking up the system. Working on this exhibition also changed my own patterns as a consumer as I can honestly say I’m brainwashed by all the facts I’ve learned when researching for and writing the exhibition texts and catalogue

Bethany Williams and me on stage during our 9th whataboutery, discussing the power of collaboration and social responsibility Image: Getty Images

Since the exhibition in Arnhem closed we have had the opportunity to go on ‘tour’ to continue the search for the new luxury by organising events and talks, our so-called ‘Whataboutery’.  This series of talks aims to open up the conversation on the challenges that are part of producing sustainable and honest fashion as every potential solution raises new questions: ‘but what about…?’.

So what’s next? At State of Fashion we continue to spread our message and including audiences by organising or participating in talks, events and other exciting opportunities. Please visit Stateoffashion.org to see what we’re doing next or read our digital catalogue of the exhibition in Arnhem here.

Find out more about MA Fashion Curation

 

The T-shirt: curating its narrative

Video interview with Jenna Rossi-Camus

By: Annabel Hoyng – van der Meijden, MA Fashion Curation

16 April 2018

How do you create a fashion exhibition with t-shirts? For curator Jenna Rossi-Camus, it’s all about 21st century style curating: “The keyword is conversation”. Watch the video to find out more.

About

London’s Fashion and Textile Museum’s current exhibition T-SHIRT: CULT – CULTURE – SUBVERSION tells the story of the most affordable and popular item of clothing on the planet. The exhibition looks at how t-shirts are both personal and universal communicators.

More info

T-SHIRT: CULT – CULTURE – SUBVERSION: from 9 February 2018 – 6 May 2018. For more information see the website of the Fashion and Textile Museum.

Click for a profile of Jenna Rossi Camus

Read more about Jenna’s research

Primavera in December: Installing the Birdsong Festive Pop-up shop in Hoxton, London

One of the most rewarding elements of studying at LCF is being able to communicate a shared passion for curation both within and outside the University. Lecturers on the MA Fashion Curation course invite students to flex their curatorial muscle outside of tutor-led assignments, offering valuable real-world experience and a chance to put ideas into practice.

In December, several of us were invited to install Birdsong London’s festive pop-up shop in Hoxton. Established in 2014, Birdsong is a female-run fashion brand that works with local women’s groups to offer migrant and refugee women an opportunity to receive a living wage for their work. Their mantra is to connect women from worker to wearer, ensuring everyone is offered a fairer deal in the process. Their brief to CfFC was to curate a space that would complement Birdsong’s clothes and accessories with a dash of festive flair; transforming a stark white room into an inviting retail space. Together, we decided on a Primavera-inspired scene and set out to create a sumptuous, scented banquet scene to last for the five days the shop would be open.

Matthew Whaley and I were handed the task of sourcing flowers, foliage and fruit to conjure a table-top feast, worthy of Sandro Botticelli himself – for £40. With the need to maximize our budget we bought winter fruits in bulk from a local grocer and opted for long-lasting eucalyptus branches to fill the room with a rich, woody scent. We arranged our finds Renaissance-style, amidst silver chargers and goblets sourced from local charity shops and finished the arrangement with candles to complete the decadent mood. Annabel Hoyng focused on merchandising Birdsong’s eclectic range of stock: everything from the softest hand-knitted sweaters to Frida Kahlo bodysuits and painted denim from local artists.

MA Fashion-Curation students Annabel-Hoyng and Matthew Whaley put the finishing touches to the Birdsong Festive pop-up in Hoxton. ©Natalie Tilbury

One of the finished displays featuring Birdsong designs. The organic cotton t-shirts (far left) are hand-painted by women at Mohila Creations; a group of low-income migrant mothers based in Tower Hamlets. ©Natalie Tilbury

A detail of the banqueting table laden with clementines, pomegranates and holly. All props were sourced from local charity shops, grocers and florists.
©Natalie Tilbury

Whether you are just starting out in a career in curation, or working in a museum, tight budgets are, and will continue to be, an undeniable reality. It is the way we handle these challenges with innovative and inspiring solutions that will stand us apart from our peers. Important too is understanding what feels right for the brand or institution you are working with. Everything we sourced for Birdsong was from Hoxton’s charity shops, florists and grocers; further supporting one of the communities in which they work.

Would I do it again? Absolutely! Treat every opportunity as a chance to show what you can do, rather than a drain on your time, and your postgraduate experience will be more rewarding than you ever thought possible.

Natalie Tilbury
MA Fashion Curation 2017/2018

When fashion meets film

By NJ Stevenson, practice-led PhD student.

“This autumn, CfFC hosted an event in response to a conversation that I had had with Amy de la Haye, my PhD supervisor, earlier in 2017 about engagement with practice. As a practice-led PhD student, you run the risk of becoming buried in lone doctoral research. After three years of researching the development of an exhibition on the intersection between fashion and film costume between 1967 and 1975, we felt that my project would benefit from presenting my progress to a live audience. I invited practitioners who have been instrumental in helping me with my research to be a part of a panel discussion exploring  ideas and implications for the realisation of an exhibition. I called the event ‘Rags to Riches’.

    Image from a promotional leaflet of ‘The Boyfriend’, (Ken Russell, 1971) with Twiggy as Polly. (The golfing jumper was later referenced by a 1960s dress by Missoni.)

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Interning at Formula D Interactive: a month in

Maxime Laprade graduated from the MA Fashion Curation course at London College of Fashion in 2016. In his post he tells us of his current internship in a design company in Capetown, South Africa.

I was offered an internship project manager role at Formula D Interactive, a design company based in Cape Town, South Africa that specialises in interactive exhibits for museums. A month in to the job, I’m going to tell you how it’s going. But first, let’s go back to why this internship was a fantastic opportunity for me.

I moved from France to study the MA Fashion Curation at London College of Fashion in September 2015. With a background in art and fashion history, I took an incredible journey during my time on the course. I experienced new practices, broadened my interests and challenged my knowledge. I became interested in social media and digital practices, fascinated by the limitless possibilities they offer. I researched how visitors could play a bigger role in exhibitions, using interaction and participation. It’s become an obsession.

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Street Fans: A Unique Liaison between Street Art & Fan Making

Jacob Moss, Curator of the Fan Museum talks about his exhibition Street Fans.

In 2015, I welcomed Paris-based street artist Codex Urbanus to The Fan Museum, where I have occupied the role of curator since graduating from MA Fashion Curation in 2010. Codex proposed an exhibition of fans designed by street artists, having already organised a similar project at the Musée de l’Éventail, Paris (sadly, since closed).  Animated discussions gave rise to a pioneering project uniting 1 fan maker and 29 street artists. The fruits of this unique liaison – 54 contemporary fans – formed the nucleus of a colourful and celebratory show at The Fan Museum.

Artist: Ender / Maker: Sylvain Le Guen

From the outset, the concept of linking fan making with street art – tradition and modernity/establishment and anti-establishment – I found intriguing. Taking to the streets of East London I began to familiarise myself with street art, an artform previously unknown to me, and discovered a vibrant movement counting innovators, mavericks and provocateurs amongst its ranks.

Artist: Otto Schade / Maker: Sylvain Le Guen

A cast of leading artists was soon assembled and introduced to project fan maker, Sylvain Le Guen, arguably the most gifted of fan makers active in Europe today, honoured in 2015 by the French Ministry of Culture as a Maître d’Art.

Artist: Captain Kris / Maker: Sylvain Le Guen

With the ‘cast’ in place, I set about ensuring a meaningful collaboration and encouraged artists to attend workshop sessions with Le Guen and attend viewings of the Museum’s 5000+ collection of fans. From the outset, each artist demonstrated passion for the project and engaged well with the subject of fans and tradition of fan painting. Unconventional ideas flowed freely, unhindered by the technical and commercial constraints which often influence the work of professional fan painters. It is worth remembering that artists who’ve not made fan painting their speciality have, at various times throughout history, produced fan paintings. In this respect, the street artists participating in the project followed a path already taken by salon-exhibited artists, post-impressionists and modern artists. Indeed, The Fan Museum has in its collections fan paintings by Gauguin, Sickert, Giacometti and even Salvador Dali.

Artist: Nathan Bowen / Maker: Sylvain Le Guen

Arming each artist with fan papers, arc shaped templates and written guidance, I waited expectantly for work to begin arriving at the Museum. The unwrapping of the latest package became a moment to savour.  The diverse modes of expression were inspiring: the arc modulated, enhanced and disrupted. Curvilinear tangles competed with geometric compositions; typographic scribblings evoked hieroglyphics; demonic felines came with elliptical peep-holes; buildings spun violently around a vortex.

Street Fans, The Fan Museum, Crooms Hill, Greenwich, London

Le Guen worked with sensitivity and creativity to bring each artwork to life, the artists’ unconventional ideas prompting the fan maker to work in similarly imaginative ways. Each design became a point of departure to be enhanced or personalised in some form or another with materials and processes tailored perfectly to match. Nathan Bowen’s distinctive London skyline, for example, made even more patriotic when mounted on sticks painted red, white and blue; Jean Faucheur’s ghoulish skeletons given a humorous twist when paired with bone-shaped sticks.

Artist: Skeleton Cardboard / Maker: Sylvain Le Guen

In what would be a series of ‘firsts’ for the Museum, a Street Fans crowdfunding campaign launched on Art Happens, the Art Fund’s crowdfunding platform for museums and galleries. Seeking to raise £14,000 toward the overall cost of staging the project, the message to potential funders was clear and consistent: help The Fan Museum unite two disparate spheres of artistry for a pioneering project aimed at renewing interest in the craft of fan making, identified by the Heritage Crafts Association as at ‘serious risk of no longer being practiced in the UK.

Artist: RUN / Maker: Sylvain Le Guen

Over a period of just 33 days, staff and volunteers at The Fan Museum worked systematically to reach the funding target, publicising the campaign at every opportunity on social media, TV and local radio. Overall 151 donors contributed more than £15,000 which was set against the cost of producing the 54 fans displayed and a series of project-linked outreach events. Aimed squarely at engaging new audiences, The Fan Museum partnered with University of Greenwich, Lewisham Southwark College and Greenwich Market for a series of creative workshops. In total over 200 people took part in outreach events, many of which subsequently visited the exhibition and gained a newfound appreciation of fans and fan making.

Street Fans is at the Fan Museum, Crooms Hill, Greenwich, London, 19 September – 31 December 2017

Find out more about Art Happens, the Art Fund’s crowdfunding platform for museums and galleries

Read more about Jacob Moss 

Apply for the MA Fashion Curation course

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