It was Graduation time for the Condé Nast College graduates on the BA (Hons) Fashion Communication course for both the class of 2020 and 2021, on Friday 5th November. In a step away from the unprecedented circumstances that the students completed their studies in, the graduation took place in person. This meant that caps and gowns were donned, and pictures in front of the iconic Condé Nast College sign were once again permitted.
Gathering for the first time was emotional and celebratory. For the graduating class of 2020, this was the first time many of the students had come together since their studies transitioned online in March 2020. A year and a half has passed and many of the graduates have secured jobs and moved on to life after CNC. Fortunately international travel was permitted and despite the former familiarity of meeting digitally and celebrating behind pixelated screens, many of the students were able to fly back into the UK for the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic. This made the occasion even more momentous as there had been moments of questioning whether the group would ever meet in person again.
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The students initially gathered at the Soho campus alongside their families and friends to gown up and take their individual portraits. From here the students took to the streets of Soho in their regalia in a procession to take the short walk between the campus and the Soho Hotel, where the formal presentation was taking place.
The students were joined by Vice-Chancellor of The University of Buckingham, James Tooley who made the welcome address along with CEO of Condé Nast College Nick Isles. Next up was the guest of honour Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council, Caroline Rush. After this, students and guests were addressed by graduate members of the graduating cohort. Then came the traditional presentation of degrees and the awards of the individual prizes of The Jonathan Newhouse Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement and The Condé Nast College Award. The proceedings were closed with a final speech made by Vice-Chancellor James Tooley.
A common theme across all of the speeches were the unique circumstances surrounding the end of the degree; the tenacity from the students to come up with new and innovative solutions to complete their respective courses, but more than anything the transformational period that the fashion industry is currently experiencing. Through the increase in gamification and integration of AI technology, in a move away to entertain the consumer rather than have a primary purpose of selling. The immense and positive contribution the graduates will play in crafting a new normal for the fashion industry was highlighted, one that focuses on true representative diversity and conscious consideration for environmental concerns and not just a performative one.
After the formal ceremony the fresh CNC graduates, alongside their guests, and staff returned to the college for a drinks reception. It was a moment to celebrate not only the acceptance of degrees, but of the camaraderie and friendships formed over the two years from the trips, group projects and the solidarity of experiencing deadlines together during an extraordinary time.