MA Fashion Cultures student Fenella Hitchcock is next to be featured in the LCFMA16 Graduate Spotlight series. LCF News spoke to Fenella about her dissertation which focuses on the artist and writer Sebastian Horsley, what she liked most about studying at postgraduate level and what it was like to study BA and MA at LCF.
What did you study before your current MA?
I studied Design and Pattern Cutting at LCF, so I’m a progression student.
Why did you choose LCF and MA Fashion Cultures?
I came across the course before I’d even started my undergraduate degree, I’d earmarked it as something I’d like to do ‘one day’ but I wasn’t sure how it would fit in with my plans to forge a career in fashion production. By the time my degree had finished, my plans had changed and I wanted to find a way to combine what I already knew about fashion from a designer/maker’s perspective with a theoretical approach.
I did a lot of research into postgraduate options but decided to return to LCF and to do Fashion Cultures for several reasons. Firstly because the course is structured in such a way that it offers a firm grounding in the discipline of fashion but it also allows you to consider a range of approaches and indulge your interests. I also read a great deal of research in the years prior to making my application and a large amount of the research I was interested in seemed to be coming out of LCF, so that definitely influenced my decision too.
Can you please tell us a little bit about your final year project and dissertation please?
I’m particularly interested in the relationships between dress, identity and personal biography so my dissertation was based around a single individual, an artist and writer named Sebastian Horsley. During the latter period of his life, Sebastian described himself as a ‘dandy’ (arguably the most contentious term in men’s fashion) and the dissertation focuses on this identification: how and when it emerges, its relationship to his art and position as a public figure and finally how it has impacted on the way he has been memorialised by his surviving contacts since his death in 2010.
What have you found the most enjoyable and interesting parts of your course? And what have you found the most challenging?
I’ve really enjoyed the discussions we’ve had during seminar sessions. Our cohort had a diverse range of backgrounds and interests and I think I’ve learned as much from each of them as I have from the reading list! In terms of challenges, I was initially intimidated by the written assignments. Coming from a design background, I’d never had to do a great deal of academic writing and making the jump from short essays to a master’s dissertation wasn’t always easy. Thankfully, there was a lot of support on offer to me and by the time it came to writing my dissertation I felt as though I could have easily written double the word count!
Reflecting back on your MA, and thinking of any prospective students thinking about starting an MA Fashion Cultures degree, what would be your top three tips/bits of advice to them?
If you’re able to undertake an internship/volunteer position with an organisation that appeals to your interests, then do so. Not only do you get a better idea of what direction you might like to head in after the MA, but you might also end up working with items that inspire your dissertation (as I did).
I also think that it’s important to be sure of your interests when you start the course, even though your final dissertation may slightly shift its focus as you progress. I wasn’t prepared for how quickly time would pass and was glad that I’d chosen my dissertation subject early on! Finally, the course requires a lot of reading and so I’d recommend familiarising yourself with some of the key texts as early as you possibly can – it doesn’t matter if some of it goes over your head at that point, I still found that it made a real difference once I started the course.
What is your plan now that you’ve finished your MA?
I’m just starting to embark on new research projects that I’d previously put on the backburner. Eventually, I would like to undertake a PhD, but for now I’m focusing on writing and publishing work.