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Fashion Curation in China: Life after the MA Fashion Curation course

Ines Figaredo handbags
Ines Figaredo handbags
Ines Figaredo handbags on used barrels, Alter concept store. Image courtesy of Casey Guo.
Written by
Centre for Fashion Curation
Published date
02 March 2018

    Amy de la Haye talks to student Casey Guo on life following the MA Fashion Curation course

    Casey Guo studied on the MA Fashion Curation course from 2009-11. From the outset, her explicit objective was to return to China equipped with a range of skills to develop fashion curatorship and exhibition-making as disciplines in her home country. Her final project was a fascinating and imaginative hypothetical exhibition on Chinese theatre costumes. Last week Casey contacted Amy de la Haye with news of her career progression.

    “Visiting museums is not a habit for ordinary Chinese people yet, including art students.” Casey says. She told me that Chinese museums continue to house permanent displays of historical and traditional Chinese textiles and dress, but still do not engage with contemporary international fashion.

    The luxury department stores in China take visual merchandising very seriously.  Casey says that, “Their displays are dramatic but they lack narrative. I decided to write a proposal for Tianjin Galaxy Mall for an exhibition that they would understand. So, I invited a lot of fashion graduates to show their works …it was like a dialogue between China and the West. And, they accepted it.” She worked on this project with her student contemporary Lizzie Glendinning. Their installation was so popular the store presented a similar event the following year. The theme of each showcase represents the element of sun, star, moon, earth or galaxy in order to connect with the theme of the mall, the largest high-end shopping centre in Tianjin.

    The theme of each showcase represents the element of sun, star, moon, earth or galaxy in order to connect with the theme of the mall. Lizzie’s display is based on the ‘rabbit on the moon’ which is a story inspired from a Kangxi plate.

    “The event agencies in Shanghai are staging the exhibitions of top designers work such as Chanel and Dior and so I then looked to work for them”, Casey continues.  With her initial degree in fashion branding and marketing, Casey’s combined skills are highly desirable and she soon found work with a French events company called Auditoire, based in Shanghai.

    In Alter Concept Store she had an opportunity to work with Spanish designer Ines Figaredo and to exhibit her work. Again, the client was delighted and requested Casey continue to work with her luxury fashion brand.  “We wanted to make the store into a playground where artists and designers from various background gather together. In the context of globalization, Shanghai is becoming more and more international and Chinese consumers embrace international brands.”

    “Ines Figaredo is a luxury handbag brand distinguished for its exclusivity and artistic inspiration. We displayed the bags on the used barrels, to question the boundary of art and fashion, to suggest that these artistic handbags are actually commodity and visitors can play with them.”

    Casey says the MA Fashion Curation course, “… opened a new world to me. The way of viewing and thinking has been and will always be a huge influence. I have also gained practical skills through the course, such as team working, budget control, communicating and how to translate and sell an idea to different people.  When you tutored my first hypothetical exhibition proposal, you asked me to think about ‘when, where, why and how’, I think it can be used in much broader contexts. I still ask the same questions when I am doing events!”

    She currently lives in Jiangsu province.  In 2014 a tutor from the Nanjing Forestry University where she had studied invited her to teach advertising and branding and she now has a full-time job as Assistant Lecturer. Excitingly, this year she introduced a unit on fashion curation – the first in China! I asked her what she is teaching.

    “I have been showing exciting exhibitions to students, to give them the idea that museum can be an exciting and fun space, and guiding students to see, to feel and to discover art and design heritage in museum, this is a totally different experience of learning. Then, I have put emphasis on case studies of some international brand’s exhibition in China (Chanel, Dior, LV, Hermès etc.), discussing the exhibition rational, narrative, display, as well as the value system as a way of branding.

    As it is an optional course, I was surprised to find that all the students of Advertising Department had taken the course, everyone! Some are just curious, many students really love fashion and they are making effort to know more.”

    She closes by reminding me that whilst she still very much wants to become a fashion curator in China, in the meantime… “I would also love to work on some international exhibitions if there’s any chance – you know that I don’t mind travel…”

  • Visit the Centre for Fashion Curation page.
  • Read more about the MA Fashion Curation course.
  • Read more about Amy de la Haye.
  • Read more LCF Stories.