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Jenna Rossi-Camus is a fashion curator and exhibition designer with varied background in performance, art and design as well as fashion.
Following 10 years as a designer of theatrical costume, Jenna combined her love of theatre design, history and fashion by undertaking an MA in Fashion Curation. She is currently studying towards a PhD at London College of Fashion, examining independent curatorial practice and focusing on fashion in graphic satire.
How would you describe yourself as a professional?
Because curating is a multi-faceted profession, and furthermore because I work almost entirely freelance, it is never easy to describe what I do "professionally." Describing myself as a fashion curator usually is the beginning of a conversation about precisely what that is, or if I work for a museum or designer. I definitely see myself as a creative professional, and someone with a career that is particularly exciting because of the diverse roles and responsibilities which I take on from project to project. Since I completed the MA Fashion Curation course, in 2010, the term "curator" has become associated with the selecting and disseminating of almost anything - from Instagram accounts to last week's lunch - or Instagram accounts exhibiting last week's lunch! So, in order to distinguish myself from more casual uses of the term, I usually say that I am a curator, producer and designer of exhibitions - usually to do with fashion.
What made you decide to study on the MA FC course?
Before coming on to the course, I had been working as a theatrical costume designer for almost ten years. My educational background was in art and design practice, with healthy amounts of art history, and I had always been an avid museum-goer with a propensity towards collecting. I had studied illustration - a discipline concerned with visual storytelling - and then as a theatrical designer worked to tell stories in time and space. When I moved from New York to London in 2005, my work was moving away from traditional theatre, and towards immersive experiences. I found UK museum culture extremely exciting, and began to find exhibitions more exciting than works of theatre. I was also for the first time working in the fashion industry, as a textile design consultant, managing a vintage archive. When I heard about the MA Fashion Curation course it seems a perfect alchemy - a course that could synthesize my interests in design, history, dress, textiles and immersive storytelling.
How has the MA FC course helped in your professional practice?
The course has genuinely helped me to bring all my diverse interests and prior professional experience into a new career path. It wasn't an instantaneous transformation - but the course gave me insights into the variety of roles I might take on - or invent - by engaging with museology and history as well as art and design practice.
What are some of the project highlights in your career so far?
I've been fortunate to have had the opportunity to work on a great variety of projects since graduating from MA Fashion Curation. In 2014 I was co-curator of Women, Fashion, Power at the Design Museum, for which I worked on the historical foregrounding of a display of contemporary women's clothing. It was a career highlight for me, not only because of its high profile, and the luminary women involved - but because it afforded me the opportunity to get to know dress and textile curators and collections around the UK (because we loaned most of the material). I have worked as an assistant to Judith Clark on a number of projects, in various capacities, but having the experience of working on Diana Vreeland after Diana Vreeland - about a legendary fashion curator and multi-tasker, in my favourite city in the world (Venice), at the home of my favourite fashion designer of all time (Mariano Fortuny) was a spiritual highlight unlikely to be matched!
Where do you see/how do you view the future of fashion curation?
Hopefully fashion exhibitions will continue to be of interest to ever more diverse audiences, and be explored by curators as a means of investigating and creating dialogues around fashion topics instead of just celebrating history and designers. I love glamour from the past, luxurious clothing and innovative design - but I think we can do better than just hold those things up to the public eye in exhibitions. I'm much more interested in the public mind - but of course there will always be fabulous things to look at too.
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