Condé Nast College of Fashion and Design’s one year Vogue Foundation Programme students showcased their final exhibition last week, with extraordinary results.
The Vogue Foundation Programme’s final exhibition provided a retrospective exploration of fashion students working from home, that offered a raw, scrutinising and unapologetic dissection of the social issues of today. At a time which has left us re-evaluating our priorities, students found themselves isolated, with restricted access to resources and the opportunity to find a sense of self.
Fusing fashion with literature
Students captured a snapshot of the zeitgeist, which has become synonymous with mainstream culture. Ella used a multi-disciplinary approach to understand and conveys society’s dedication to striving for unrealistic beauty standards. She explored the topic through the styling of a short film with a voiceover of a poem on the topic, a hybrid approach which fused the visual power of fashion and included her love of literature. An approach which was adopted by Sadaf who also “wanted to combine all of her skills”, her final project explored how perceptions are altered through the lens of social media and an additional layer of focus on Chromesthesia (the way we perceive colour).
There’s no place like home
Theo was able to capture the unique requirements of producing work within the pandemic and the importance of home, through a fashion film and styled editorial shoot. “My final project is an exploration of my artistic expression hand-in-hand with the place I’m originally from, a very remote place in Belgium. Where we live very far from the city and urban areas and I think that has always inspired me in my fashion and in my artistic voice”. Set in a rich forest location, Theo was able to convey his vision, “I think I did quite a good job. It is always difficult to capture yourself when you are still getting to know who you truly are. Some people find out who they are earlier on, but for me it was this year during the pandemic, having to be extremely resourceful with creativity as you are at home and limited to resources you have access to. We didn’t have the studio, London and I was just at home working with what I had”. Discussing his experience of the foundation course, Theo explains
“We are all from different places and this is what our exhibition is all about. We had the same brief, but each explored each of our individual diversities.”
Finding a sense of self
This was a transformative moment for student Gabriel too, who chose to centre his final film on self expression. “When I came to Condé Nast I was in a really bad place at that time, we had just gone into lockdown and I had three years to find out what I wanted to do. From 16 years old I was doing A levels and I was doing mock Vogue shoots and covers. I was told you can’t just do fashion photography, you really have to think on a broader spectrum and I remember thinking, no this is what I want to do, I love fashion, the style, I love the community”.
The final project and subsequent exhibition allowed Gabriel to showcase their drag alter-ego and the importance of not boxing yourself in and to embrace fluidity and freedom for the first time to his parents through the project. When asked how they felt and the reaction received, Gabriel explained how the film had “blown them away”. Gabriel enthused “I never thought I would be confident enough to show my mother and father that or post it on my Instagram. I had never done drag before. It has really opened me up to labels and whether I am a she or a he or no labels whatsoever and this is why this project means so much to me. It has pushed me and opened me up to a different space where, where I am from, that would have never happened. If I had dressed like this from where I am from I would just have been stared at. CNC has allowed me the space to explore”.
Leaving the exhibition, you are left with a feeling of inspiration, awe and questioning whether the pandemic, which had an undeniable crippling effect on the creative industries, was in fact a golden opportunity for creatives and students alike to click the pause, and subsequent refresh buttons to re-centre and get back to what inspires them? The Vogue Foundation Programme exhibition offered a window into a moment in time as we enter the new normal and reflect on what was.