Sabrine Le Marchand

Sabrine Le Marchand, BA (Hons) Fashion Communication with Promotion Final Project 2012

Sabrine Le Marchand project focuses on pleasure without concerns, end or closure.

Derriere

Sabrine has graduated in June 2012 and is currently working as an Art Director at   Burberry. Her final project at university is based on female sexuality, focusing on the art aspect of the design of a magazine. 

Please describe a project you worked on during your course

My final year project is undoubtedly my most interesting, not only because it was a year long project but, for the reason that the brief was completely free. Additionally, it is was the conclusion to the course, a catalyst to everything you have learned in the past four years of studies and a year in the industry. 

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My final year project was as most of my fellow classmate a magazine. I named it ‘Derriere’, a French word for behind, back and more popularly for buttocks. It is as you will understand straight away by the explicit cover and title, it is about ‘sex’, particularly, about eroticism. More of a collective readable object,  than a magazine. I created ‘Derriere’ in an artistic platform, which discusses and informs about contemporary sexuality. Mostly aimed at women with a strong feminist tone. The concept was quite simple, as it aimed to define and explore one sexual practice or paraphilia per issue. 

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Here is an extract from the very long manifesto: “Men do not have the monopoly of sex anymore! Derriere Magazine is a celebration of pleasure without concerns, end or closure. Every issue engages in a thematic, creative discussion about a particular sexual desire and behavior, as well as, its impact on our society and individuality. Serving as a platform for the mature sex savvy to the young apprentice, Derriere Magazine is a cultural exploration as well as an artistic experiment about the confined world of eroticism; its visual aesthetic and its ideological power.”

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Derriere Magazine is Conceptual. Graphic.

A contemporary and creative conversation about sexuality.

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“A modern publication that dares to challenge rules and defy socio-moral boundaries, aimed at the brazen, lusty, real, indefatigable, down-to-earth, fetching, bright, sexy and uncompromising woman. A woman to be reckoned with, to be loved and to be respected.”

Finalising my studies in  communication and media, I wanted to find a meaningful subject  that had a strong connection with our contemporary culture. The theme I chose to explore in the issue was Voyeurism and Exhibitionism. With the recent digital shift of the media, appearance of social media and networks all based on voyeurism/ exhibitionism, people and more particularly, sexual behaviours have and keep changing. Hence, I thought it would be interesting to investigate in a quite atypical and creative way through work of  various arts from creative writing, photography, illustration and more in depth article.

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Quite an experimental and ambitious project, the project required some strong initial research. During the first term, I gathered a vast amount of research based on various themes that I wanted to explore further in the issue. I met with a plethora of people, conducted interviews in person and over Skype, spent days and nights at the library, organised test shoots, reached out to writers, illustrators and other artists to get their expertise and support for the conception of my fictive magazine. Demonstrating to them, the progression of my research and getting feedback on my weekly tutorial with Hywel an Iain. By January it was already time to produce and start making the first mock-up of the magazine with the help of Martin Andersen, our art direction/ graphic design tutor. Although I had a strong concept and a clear vision of how I wanted my book to look like, I came across many issues that my tutors helped me resolved. 

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The book ended up looking quite good at the end I believe. I had my hands on, taken numerous photographs and written most of the articles, as well as, designed all the graphics.  I was really pleased that the outcome of my personal work, taste and aesthetic was quite representable.

How you heard about CSM and your route into getting a place on a CSM course?

Although I heard about Central Saint Martins when I was in high school student back in France, I did not consider studying fashion at the time. It is only after I moved to London that I not only discover more about the Fashion industry through modeling, but also a desire has been originated  to orientate my studies and career in that direction. I first enrolled into a Fashion Media Access Course into higher Education at London College of Fashion. A cheaper and more effective route for integrating into BA course in Fashion Communication. Similar to a Foundation year, the access programme is an intensive year course that offers a core of studies in Information technology, communications and cultural studies. In a fashion context that offered a pathway to integrate in any BA’s within the UAL. During the course, I developed a strong interest in photography and art direction. 

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After, investigating the numerous choices of degrees available by UAL, I had eyes only for Fashion Communication with Promotion course, hence I started my application. The process was quite long and difficult as they were not many places available. I was invited to present a portfolio of work before being interviewed by the course leader, Hywel Davies and the lecturer, Carol Morgan, who questioned my motivation to integrate the course. I can recall Carol asking me what would be my other choice of studies if I did not get in to the course. My answer was that no other course suited me better, thus if I was not accepted I would have waited for the next year to reapply again and again until I was in. 

How would you describe your course?

The Fashion Communication with Promotion course is a unique course in its genre. It is part of the popular course in Fashion; it is a great introduction and preparation to any fashion career outside of design, such as, art direction, photography, styling or journalism amongst others. The course balances really well theory and practice core studies in the many ways and forms to communicate fashion. It offers classes on fashion history, cultural studies, fashion writing and journalism, photography, production, styling, graphic design amongst many other disciplines. The course also includes an optional year out in the industry which is an extremely valuable opportunity for any student to get experience and perfect their skills in their chosen field of prospected career.

What is a typical day like?

Studying in Fashion Communication with Promotion or any other course at Central Saint Martins is quite self study lead. Although the amount of autonomy you are expected to perform as a student, increases gradually throughout the course. You are expected to be proactive and use as many resources the university provides at your disposal. Coming from a different country, it was quite difficult at the beginning to understand such a system. Some might argue that students may not get enough technical classes or time with their tutors yet; tutors are available and present everyday in site or via mail to respond to any interrogation, as well as, give guidance. There is a vast amount of facilities that are available to students on a daily basis with fully trained staff. 

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Central Saint Martins encourages a student to be independent and proactive, to find the information at the source, which is I think the best preparation for the future especially in this industry. I could not agree more with this philosophy; looking back I do not see any other way I could have learnt.

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To be more specific about the course now, the first year at FCP is quite supervised. There are plentiful tutorials and works, students are introduced to many disciplines they will study throughout the following years of the course, as well as, the university facilities that are available to them. The second year is more hands on. There are less classes but more work. In addition, to specific classes there is always a weekly class, once or twice a week, meetings with the course tutor in which we would discuss about the course and required briefs, as well as, individual tutorial with either our course tutor or any intervening tutor during which we would talk about the progress of our projects and get feedback. We would usually spend most of our time in the library to study individually or in groups depending on the projects we were working on.  Finally, the third and last year is completely independent. Working the entire year on a personal project of choice, which was usually a magazine, we were given a schedule with general and individual tutorial to attend weekly with various tutors to present the evolution of our ideas and progression. Most of the final year is spent outside class rooms, we are encouraged to conduct research and gather information from any resources available. I spent most of my final year at the Victoria and Albert Museum library.

Do you have any experience of participating in exhibitions, events or working with industry?

After the second year, there is a possibility to take a year out to experience working within the industry. It is a great opportunity for any student who might not have already intern to get working experience. It helps students who are still unsure of the career they would like to pursue, to narrow choices. I was really keen on taking a year out to gain more experience in the industry. Although I had already gained experience from past internships,  I was still unsure at that time what I really wanted to do, hesitating between art direction and photography.  With the help and strong support from my course tutor Hywel, we reached out to Burberry to apply for a work experience within the Creative Media Department. I spent a couple of months there supporting the art direction team with research on concepts for campaigns and other photo shoots for the brand. I learned so much being there from image conception to digital innovation in which the company is known to excel in. I then knocked at the door to British Vogue as I wanted to experience the world of Art direction within publishing, though their strong policy on interning did not allow me to stay there more than a month. Thirsty for more experience I then moved to New York to join the photography department at Vanity Fair as a photography intern, helping out with creative research and production. Completely immersed in the city’s abundance of opportunities, I also enrolled onto an intensive photography evening course at the International Centre of Photography tutored by Amy Airbus, daughter of Diane. After a couple of months at Vanity Fair a job opportunity has raised and I had been offered the position to be the Photo Editor’s assistant. I was working closely with producers on the magazine’s cover and worked on photography features with star photographers, such as, Annie Leibovitz and Norman Jean Roy amongst many others.

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Looking back, this year out was extremely valuable. Not only it had allowed me to gain more confidence and skills in the industry, that ensured me was this was exactly what I wanted to do. Additionally, it helps making strong connections that can sometimes, like in my case, lead to a job offer.

How have you found the support whilst you studied here?

Being slightly older than the other students, already extremely independent, and working full time as a model during my studies, I have to admit I was not 100% involved with the student life. Hence, during my time at Central Saint Martins I have to admit, I did not use most of the support that was available to me. Although, as a true French person, I would always complain about not having enough this or that yet my moaning was more about the fact it was not all served in my the palm of my hand. That being said I only realised the last year or since I left the university, how many facilities were available to me at CSM, that I have not used and I truly regret not taking advantage of.

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That being said, support is not hard to find in CSM. Not only there are always technicians and tutors present on site or easily reachable by phone or email, there is also a plethora of other students that constitute such an incredible network of valuable resources constantly accessible. This is the true beauty of CSM.

Why did you chose this particular course over others?

I chose this particular course over others because FCP seemed at the time the only course that offered a broad training in Fashion communication. Other courses just offered one or two specialities, such as photography or journalism. Also I really wanted to study at CSM, it is such a prestigious establishment recognised worldwide. I would lie if I was not acknowledging that being a CSM alumni does not make any difference in this industry.  

What sort of a person do you think you need to be to do well on your course?

I do not think there is a straight answer to this question. Obviously to succeed at Central Saint Martins or anywhere else you need to work hard and be extremely committed. Yet I have known some lazy people who did well too, ironic. I guess what all students have in common here, is being passionate about what they do. Being creative and curious is a must and definitely, a background knowledge in fashion culture and history, is the base. 

What you love about CSM and why you’d recommend it?

I am starting to be really nostalgic about my time at CSM all of a sudden. What I truly loved about CSM are the people. I have built up some of my strongest and most beautiful friendships, while studying at CSM,  as well as, a solid professional network. CSM is a big family, our tutors have remained always very close to us even after graduation and they still give us advice and feedback now in a higher professional level.  Where else would you find that? Nowhere! 

What you (and others) hope to go on to do /what you are doing now?

The options are wide, people in my class wanted to become journalists, TV presenters, stylists, photographers, art directors, set designers, film directors amongst many other possibilities when they first joined the course. All students come with strong expectations in regards to the future when they first joined Central Saint Martins. Yet, we learnt to manage these expectations throughout the course of our studies. During the last term of our second year, our course tutor organised a series of lectures from people within the industry, who explained and discussed their roles with students. In addition to these valuable lectures, students who have opted for the year out in the industry came closer to know what they want and identify what they are good at. 

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On a personal level, I feel really lucky, as my studies at CSM lead me to a very successful conclusion. I did manage to do exactly what I wanted to do and I had always dreamt of doing. I now work at Burberry as an Art Director. I joined the AD team in July 2012 just after I graduated. My job consists mostly in researching and conceiving creative concepts and ideas for shoots and campaigns. Other briefs requirements are focused on marketing and the wider company. I work closely with an amazing team of professionals such as, photographers, graphic designers, producers and digital designers amongst many others people. It is a tremendously exciting and inspiring collaborative work; all orchestrated by Christopher Bailey, the Chief Creative officer and future CEO. 

What advice would you pass on? 

Be confident and proactive. Always strive for more and better.

What have your highlights been? 

First and last days of the course, both were extremely emotional.

Last day on the Charing Cross site, I felt so sad to leave that building so full of history behind it.

Judith Watt were extremely inspirational fashion history classes

Graduation, seeing the joy and pride in our tutor’s eyes, although it might as well have been a relief for them!