LCF MA17 begins with the incredibly talented MA Costume Design for Performance cohort, who create wonderful performance narratives to showcase their costumes at Sadler’s Well. First up on Graduate Spotlight is Crystal Baker-Manning, who created an interpretation of a young woman floating in orbit.
The Distance of the Moon is the title of Australian-born Crystal’s story which featured Eve Niker as the performer. The young women in the performance is called Ayl, based on a famous short story by Italo Calvino.
Crystal graduated from BA Fashion Design at Whitehouse Institute of Design, Australia, before working as an Illustration and Design lecturer and freelance projects. Her interest is in exploring the relationship between the body and the costume, the manner in which the two interrelate, and how each adapts to the other. LCF News finds out more about Crystal’s performance, inspirations, and tips for future students for the first Graduate Spotlight interview.
Tell us about your final collection?
My final performance piece is based on a combination of things – a short story by Italo Calvino called The Distance of the Moon, and one written by myself called The History of the Moon. It tells the story of a girl who collects light inside her and is turned into the moon. The piece explores the interactive nature of costume and movement, and how each adapts their form to the other to create a performance.
Where did you study prior to London College of Fashion?
I graduated from BA Fashion Design at Whitehouse Institute of Design, Australia.
Why did you choose LCF and MA Costume Design for Performance?
I chose MA Costume Design for Performance because I wanted a postgraduate course that applied costume within various performative mediums, and the resources available at LCF, as well as the tutors and technicians had an incredible reputation. I wanted to study the best course in Costume Design!
What did you enjoy most about the course, and what did you find most challenging?
The thing I enjoyed most about the course was having the opportunity to explore and really push myself creatively. The environment within MA Costume is a fantastic place to experiment and learn new techniques. I have gained so much from it. The most challenging thing I have found about the course was finding the right balance between studies, research, work, and external collaborations. I have definitely refined my time management skills!
What is your favourite thing about studying in London?
My favourite thing about studying in London is the amount of inspiration in the city, from museums to galleries, shows, performances and the overall environment. There is so much to do and see, and the people and collaboration opportunities are endlessly inspiring!
Have you undertaken any work experience or placements whilst at LCF?
No. I’ve found that working my part-time job and doing an MA is the most I can fit in time-wise. I have, however, made some great connections with people in the costume industry, and met some incredible artists and practitioners who I have collaborated with, or have spoken to about future collaborations.
Describe your work in five words…
Fantastical, experimental, adventurous, dream-like, and spacey!
Who is your biggest inspiration or muse?
My biggest inspiration comes from a combination of fantasy and the surreal, Asian culture, history, and art.
What would be your top three tips for prospective students?
1. Take advantage of the resources, knowledge of technicians and tutors, and extracurricular events, and try and gain as much from your course as possible! Everyone wants to share their knowledge, and especially when moving to a new city, these people will also help build your contact base, which will continue to help you out throughout your career!
2. Experiment and try new things! There are very few times in your life where you can have the time, resources, and opportunity to test out and try new ideas, so make it work for you! Even if you don’t end up using the new technique, you may one day find that your knowledge of a material or technique comes in handy.
3. See as many exhibitions, galleries, museums, performances and shows as you can. You never know where inspiration will be found, and the more you see the more exciting your time will be!
What are your future plans and how do you think the course has helped you realise this?
I plan to remain in London and start working in costume design, following that path wherever it may lead.
LCF moving to Stratford: What do you think about the university moving east?
I think that the location change will bring new inspiration and access to students, as well as providing access to resources all in one place. Performance-wise, being so close to the theatre companies who are also moving to, or based in Stratford, will allow for some incredible collaborations and opportunities.
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