As we come to the end of spring term, I thought I would reflect on what has been going on at LCF these past few months. I thought about mentioning the fantastic Museum of Transology, the MA Womenswear and Menswear shows, the MA Media and Communications exhibition at House of Vans – all of which were excellent. But then I realised that this term I seem to have spent almost as much time away from LCF as I have in my office! This was due to a number of overseas trips, so I thought I would use this round-up to explain what I have been up to these last few months, and why it’s important.
I went to Paris at the beginning of March to visit Institut Français de la Mode as part of our plan to develop a really close relationship with them. There are many similarities between what we want to achieve as colleges; we both incubate young businesses, we plan to develop research projects together and want to build industry links. And, seeing as we are both going to be moving to a new location soon, we feel that it would be really interesting to work together over the next few years.
Whilst in Paris I also went to a number of shows including Elie Saab, Yohji Yamamoto, Ann Demeulemeester and Rick Owens, as well as visiting the studio of Nana Aganovic. Just seeing the different ways people are showcasing their work is fascinating, but also the real position Paris has at the moment in terms of a very strong design aesthetic is very interesting.
I went to Amsterdam for this year’s IFFTI conference which was looking at the future of fashion education in relation to issues around diversity, sustainability, and ideas around how we connect with craft and tradition. There was also a real opportunity for curators from a number of different institutions to come together to look at the issue of how fashion is curated, particularly as there are a number of extraordinary museums in Amsterdam, like the Rijksmuseum and the Tassen Museum of Bags and Purses, which I can definitely recommend.
I also took a trip to Beijing to visit the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology (BIFT), where I am now a Visiting Professor and PhD Supervisor. Whilst there I gave a talk to students and explored a number of key relationships about how we exchange students and share experiences on incubation. I saw a number of fashion shows and even got to be a judge on one of them. BIFT are a very exciting institution because they have a significant number of relationships with industry, they have an extraordinary collection of ethnic Chinese garments, and they also have a very strong aesthetic. I think they are a very exciting partner for us.
Next term I am looking forward to going to Lebanon to see the graduating students from our collaboration with Lebanese American University (LAU) and Elie Saab. I will also be heading to Warsaw for the opening of the Transfashional exhibition.
I’m going to Venice in May to see the Biennale. We have a number of close relationships in Venice, particularly with the university’s fashion curation department. I also just like to see all the artistic practice and what’s happening in the art world because there’s obviously a close relationship between fashion and art. The Pinault Foundation will be showing a big Damien Hirst exhibition, and the Prada Foundation will also be showing, so it’s interesting to see a very tangible connection between fashion and art.
All of these trips really reflect how important it is in the context of Brexit and our international agenda for us to be connected, and I see this travelling as being a key part of what I do.