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MA Media Production alumna Natalie Grogan has gone on to start her own business Search Style.
Why did you choose to study MA Fashion Media Production at LCF?
After my BA, I decided to look into UAL fashion masters courses. I wanted the opportunity to direct my graphic design background on fashion. Fashion Media Production seemed like a perfect fit for me. It naturally utilises new media and innovative technologies - something that I’ve always been interested in, but never had the chance to explore. There can’t be many courses where you’re taught how to build a virtual 3D art gallery!
To me, Fashion Media Production is at the cutting edge of fashion and It’s refreshing to have found a course that isn’t restricted by the traditional disciplines of the fashion industry.
What were you doing before joining the course?
Before my MA Fashion Media Production course in 2012, I was studying BA Graphic Design at Central Saint Martins. Part of my dissertation focussed on cross-industry collaboration. For this reason, I created an online vintage clothing store on ASOS Marketplace, giving me the opportunity to collaborate with makeup artists, models, photographers and videographers. The fashion side of my CV also started growing. Whenever time allowed, I was freelancing, designing lookbooks and other collateral for a couple of designers, including Marina London a CSM graduate with her own silk womenswear brand, which was great fun!
What were the highlights?
The course is totally multidisciplinary which allows people to explore a new direction across industry. For me, I wanted to expand on my existing skills, whilst focusing more on Fashion Media. Most of my projects turned out to be fashion magazines or websites, which was really the foundation of me launching my own company. I’m really glad I stepped outside my comfort zone and joined the fashion film course, it was one of my highlights. The final project and my dissertation led me to develop SEARCH STYLE (f.k.a. ‘Style Scape’), as a concept as well as a product.
What is the balance of theoretical and practical work on the course?
Everyone on the course is incredibly creative, but at the end of the day it’s what you make of it. My background is creative so naturally I brought that to the course, but the theoretical side of the teaching gave me the direction that I lacked before.
Can you tell us about your multimedia Masters projects?
There were a number of projects on the course, but the two that stick out for me are the final two. The first, titled ‘ConceptUAL’, was the first website that I ever designed and built. We called it a “hybrid website”, in the sense that it was an online publication as well as a 3D virtual gallery, displaying art and fashion from across UAL. The virtual gallery was the website's USP created with Unity and Sketchup. We created a space, housing some of UAL’s up and coming creative talent both current and postgraduate artists and designers. As ‘ConceptUAL’, we hand-picked and tactfully curated cutting edge and inspirational content including fashion design, styling, photography, artefact, fine art, graphic design and illustration.
I now work full-time on SEARCH STYLE, which was the product of my final MA project. I got great feedback and plenty of encouragement from staff, students, family and friends alike, which gave me the belief to quit my job and focus everything on it. Without Fashion Media Production, (and my amazing tutors,) I would never have had the drive and encouragement needed to get this project off the ground.
Founded in London, multi-award-winning social network SEARCH STYLE uses social inspiration to bring together the latest global street style trends in a unique interactive worldwide fashion map.
On searchstyle.com fashion lovers can share their style through street style photos, and follow, comment on and share the styles of the people, designers and brands that inspire them. This fashion footprint updates in real time so users discover the latest trends as they develop no matter where they are, from the glitzy stores of Paris to the gritty street styles of Manila.
What you see now is SEARCH STYLE in its infancy. We're working hard to realise our vision and build the SEARCH STYLE community into something amazing where consumers, bloggers and brands can all exist collaboratively and through social inspiration celebrate style in all its many forms.
What is the most exciting thing about progress in new technologies?
The most exciting and valuable thing for me was how the course enabled me to identify an industry changing shift in influence and that’s really exciting. In our socially connected world, fashion trends aren’t influenced from the catwalk down anymore, but from the streets up. Social networks and instant sharing have made consumers more influential than glossy magazines, giant fashion houses and catwalk shows. Through the simple act of sharing photos we are constantly influencing each other with purchases, ideas and styles. Online shopping is about to be a social activity, and that’s why I created SEARCH STYLE. I want it to be on the cutting edge of this paradigm shift in consumer nature. I want to pioneer the future of fashion retail, closing the gap between social inspiration and social shopping in the space of just a few clicks. None of this would have been possible without my time at LCF. ￼￼
In what ways do you hope new technologies will change the industry?
"The best fashion show is definitely on the street. Always has been and always will be." Bill Cunningham
This quote has stuck with me, I first heard on a documentary I watched in a lecture on the MA. This quote by Bill is my mantra and for the first time I am seeing street style fashion overtaking preconceived avenues of influence through the rise of social media and instant global sharing possibilities.
I am a style lover. But I love the idea of us, the consumers, wrestling back our style from flashy catwalks, fashion powerhouses and glossy magazines to put it back where it belongs – on real streets worn by real people.
What did you do after you’d left LCF?
After I graduated from LCF, I went on to win SEED funding and Creative Enterprise Awards to develop SEARCH STYLE. I started interning as a Graphic Design Assistant at Annoushka jewellery in Sloane Square too, until I landed a job at creative agency, Phantom as a Visual Designer working on campaigns for Google, Sony and Financial Times. Phantom is by far the best company I’ve ever worked for, I’ve learnt so much and continue to learn from my time there. Now I’m taking SEARCH STYLE forward as my own startup, to try to shake the foundations of the fashion industry. I want it to rival the likes of The Netset, Lookbook.nu, ASOS Marketplace and Depop.
What advice would you give students considering studying on this course?
Enjoy what you do, explore every skill you didn’t know you had and learn from every piece you create. You never know what you might start.