Windows at The Curtain - Fashion Styling and Production x CommuneEAST
BA (Hons) Fashion Styling and Production worked together with CommuneEAST to curate a showcase of moving image and editorial styling process driven student work alongside a panel discussion on collaboration at The Curtain. The event dissected collaborative process, connections and the influences of experimental practice, new directions and inspirations on making work.
CommuneEAST is an “ideas and ‘vision’ institute, collating and creating the utopian taste of the future”, interested in the dialogue between fashion and art. They hold monthly IRL Book Clubs with forward thinking and disruptive creatives, makers and thinkers to encourage conversation and collaborative practice.
We spoke to Clare Buckley, BA (Hons) Fashion Styling and Production Course Leader and Leanne Elliott Young, co-founder of CommuneEAST about the event which housed current students’ work in situ at The Curtain Members Club.
What inspired this event and particular collaboration?
CLARE: We wanted to encourage students to really look at process-driven outcomes and explore further collaborations with people inside and outside of fashion – extended upon their traditional fashion image of photography, hair and makeup. Year three students were asked to review their work to date over year one and year two at the start of the year and submit three images, which resulted in a group curated pop up show, reflecting on their fashion practice to date. We invited students from the SMC school and across the LCF design schools to two consecutive collaborative networking events, to support the navigation of new collaborative partnerships to support the current year three investigations of their Collaborative Experimental Practice unit.
The context of the actual event was CommuneEAST working with FSP and really mirroring the philosophy of what the course is and what we do.
What did you enjoy most about the event?
LEANNE: It was really interesting to work with Clare and the whole of the course, witnessing the amazing talent that came from an event focused on collaboration. The installation in The Curtain window faces out to the streets of Shoreditch, which is obviously a hub of innovation and collaboration. It was great to have a call to action, street level exhibition of the work.
The way that the work was selected was crucial, because it's not about hierarchical systems, it was about this openness to be able to show everyone and give them the space to be heroed in the work that they're delivering.
The panellists Clare Buckley, Dr Rosie Findlay, TJ Sidhu, Louise Gray and Leanne Elliott Young (host) discussed what collaboration really means, why it is important within the creative industries and how legitimate interdisciplinary conversations and relationships can be an integral building block to creative success.
Which book did you discuss for Volume 4 of the #IRLCommuneEASTBookClub?
CLARE: I chose the book from the Barbican exhibition 'Modern Couples: Art, Intimacy and the Avant-Garde’ by Jane Alison and Coralie Malissard, because it really defines how people from different disciplines – an art photographer, a surrealist photographer and a fine artist – informed and influenced each other's process and work. It defined what we're trying to do in this unit, which is all about collaborative process.
What is it that made CommuneEAST want to work with LCF in particular?
LEANNE: I think specifically because we wanted to talk about creativity and collaboration, and that’s what the BA Fashion Styling and Production course structure delivers. We're talking about cross cultural collaborations and disruption. The industry has changed so much including the role of the stylist – not just on the shoot but with the collections and the vision. You have to be able to unlock and understand the importance of the narratives of each garment and item.
Can you tell us more about the students’ work?
CLARE: Students from the current year three were offered an opportunity to upload fashion films or styling process and editorial image, which was showcased as a showreel or collage of FSP work at The Curtain. On the evening we had showreels of work made from this current year three, and for the window we used all the images that were uploaded [by students] and put into a 1.5m x 1.5m collage which is lit in the curtain window for two months. It highlights what we do as a collective, what the course is about, what the students are doing on the course – process driven outcomes. A mixture of moving image and editorial styling, from education through fashion, to brand creativity, commerce.
It was about showing work in situ to industry and guests.
Fashion Styling and Production use their course Instagram as a visual diary, highlighting process and inspiration. This allows students to share their work in progress and celebrate all stages of making.
LEANNE: We also created a QR code within the collage which fed back to further work [on Instagram], so you can witness the work physically in the window and then see it digitally. Again, it democratizes this collaborative input by giving you more and more. During the event the work was kind of hanging within your eyeline. It became almost as thought guests were collaborating and interacting with the work itself because of the way it inhabited the space.
CommuneEAST took over FSP’s Instagram in the run up to the event, to highlight the process of collaboration. The takeover collages and gifs included behind the scenes and ‘making of’ the installation process.
Can you talk a bit about your intentions with the takeover and what inspired you?
LEANNE: We wanted to provoke the sense of what was actually going to happen on the night and the ideas we would be dissecting – the route of collaboration, but also the root of the aesthetic. There was a lot of layering of images, interrupted, blurred and pixilated, all of them coming together to create a painterly effect, something like hack digital. What is the aesthetic trajectory of each of these images if you change them, layer them with somebody else's and distort them?
Collaboration is all about the process, how you harness and develop the creativity within.
You have to really consider every single step, highlighting everything that goes on beyond the eyeline and how important that is – the production and the composition.