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Flower Power and the Diesel Takeover

The Gentlemen’s Club in the basement of the Diesel store. Credit: Maxime Laprade
The Gentlemen’s Club in the basement of the Diesel store. Credit: Maxime Laprade
The Gentlemen’s Club in the basement of the Diesel store. Credit: Maxime Laprade
Written by
Centre for Fashion Curation
Published date
01 March 2018

    The summer of 2016 saw students at London College of Fashion working collaboratively with Diesel to takeover their flagship Covent Garden store with a unique concept spread across three floors.  The takeover, which ran from Aug - Sept 2016 celebrated Covent Garden’s floral tradition.

    The winning group comprising of Eshaan Dhingra, Griselda Ibarra, Irene Rodriguez, Laksamee Jong, and Maxime Laprade were selected by the company following their work with several groups. The students are from courses spanning fashion curation to fashion entrepreneurship and innovation, fashion media production and strategic fashion marketing. Here, Maxime Laprade from the MA Fashion Curation course reflects on the experience:

    “Back in December, one of the students who has been in my team since then approached me to be part of the Diesel project. Coming from a business MA, she was looking for students with a more creative approach. I said yes.  At the beginning, the approach used –  very marketing and industry focused, even the vocabulary – was not something I was used to. It was a little bit overwhelming at first. As a fashion curation student, I did not know what to bring to the project. However, after a while, I realised that I shouldn’t try to use their methods and approaches, but I should work my way and apply my own particular practice to the project. As a result, I studied the displays, the store, the history of the neighbourhood and connected it to images and visuals.

    While doing our research, we discovered the story of the flower girls. That is when I began to be passionate about the project. I continued to look into the history, worked on the window displays and tried to think the store as an exhibition but which would have to be about the customer. The difficulty and novelty for me was that the objective was to increase sales. Therefore, everything needed to be directed to the customer and the merchandising. It was not an exhibition! I needed to think about the product more than anything else and about how to sell it.

    The project is done, and from a fashion curation point of view, it has been an incredible experience. I have collaborated with a brand whose goals are very different from the ones of a museum or an archive. It has helped me thinking of ways to apply curatorial skills to new contexts.

    We need to be versatile in our jobs. I stepped out of my comfort zone, learnt new skills, a new vocabulary and I am now more aware of the industry approaches and methods. Moreover, I have learn more about how to present and sell an idea.”

    Some of the collections I visited were larger than the CSM museum  and on the whole seemed better resourced.  But the main remit for all of them, as with ours, is to engage and to educate. The two college collections are aiming particularly at the students of the colleges they are attached to and The Refresh grant made it possible for me to get out into the big wide world and to see my work from a different perspective. To have met and to be able talk face to face with colleagues who share the same concerns is immensely valuable.

    Diesel, London College of Fashion Say It With Flowers in Covent Garden