“Fashion anticipates … a mirror of the time in which we live, a translation of the future, and should never be static.” – Oleg Cassini
As we know, the only constant is change and in fashion, change is due to our evolving cultures, economies, technologies and politics. Fashion’s artistic and business practices amplify contemporary life on global and local scales whilst laying the ground for what is to come, not only in material terms but also in society’s habits and values. As we mark the end of the academic year, so we see the beginnings of our future through the work of a generation that is growing up with simultaneous connections to and distractions from our interdependent lives.
I feel very optimistic and I have good reason to be, having had the opportunity to critique an end of Year 9 (13-14 year olds) student generated fashion project at City of London School for Girls. The girls’ brief was to create a fashion show to demonstrate ‘Four Seasons in a Day’. These girls were working in teams of 22 to 23 (each form group took on a season) which in itself was no mean feat.
I arrived to a palpable energy in the air and was greeted, along with my fellow judges, by the tastes, storyboards and presentations of four collaborative groups of students. The idea of navigating the path through the creation of a collection, from concept through to showcasing, finding fulfilling roles for each of the team, sounds like a near impossibility. These girls however managed to support each other and to make the most of each of their interests and talents. This meant that instead of taking the well worn route of fashion creation, these girls thought about what they stood up for and really worked on the idea of Sustainability in fashion.
The Autumn team contacted likeminded businesses to create affiliations, choosing companies such as Lush to identify with in terms of their ethical, resourceful stance on the environment. This team also linked dimensions of the Arts into their work, drawing on poetry, food and fashion design to connect elements of life through their collection that represented a fantastic cornucopia of colour and vivid print designs.
The Spring team were savvy in their use of materials, keeping within parameters of resourcefulness creating conceptual thinking that manifest in a great cityscape skirt in chipboard, which could have gone one way or the other. It went the way of clever, without taking itself too seriously to boot. The integration of digital skills and the most exquisite singing made this a stand out collection and presentation too.
Summer was playful and understood just how to create theatre out of fashion. The cohesion of the crew created a presentation that was almost like a professional production.
Winter was more edgy, with its own style and production; you really sensed that the next generation know what they are thinking and what they are doing – and its all their own. A backdrop of a ticking clock, their show took us through the hour from 11pm to midnight, through fashion collection and wonderfully haunting vocals and accompanying guitar.
Taking another well worn phrase that ‘the future is here, it’s just not that well distributed yet’ (Gibson, W.), I have to contest – the future is here and it’s incredibly eloquently articulated if these girls have got anything to do with it!