Fashion Communication and Promotion is an integral part of Fashion in Central Saint Martins. We were never sure what really these guys do, as it looks that they are doing everything: styling and fashion photography to journalism, producing fashion shows, magazines and advertising campaigns. We decided to finally figure it out and here is an interview with one of the FCP students, Constance, who tells us more about her own Atelier magazine project, FCP and it’s students.
Who are you, where are you from?
My name is Constance, I am from Paris
What was your previous education?
I graduated from an International High School in Paris in 2006. I was suppose to study business and finance, but decided at the last minute to enroll into a foundation course in an Art and Design school in France called Penninghen.
It was a very tough year- everything was about technique, rules and competition. Nothing to do with the English way of studying art.
It helped me develop my drawing skills, enriched my knowledge of art and taught me how to be extremely meticulous with my work. It is an approach to studying art that may suit a lot of people, but it was just not for me.
So just a few weeks after enrolling, I started looking for other opportunities to study art. One of my good friends was in the middle of her foundation course at Chelsea and she pushed me to send my application. I sent my application in January, received my acceptance letter in March, finished my year in Paris and enrolled in Chelsea on the foundation course in September.
I would say that Chelsea is where it all began, the year before was like a year 0.
It was the radical opposite to what I had experienced the year before: open classes, crit in between student, no set of rules.
It was actually quite tough to switch from control to the greatest independence. I was used to following very strict guidelines not to be disqualified, whereas Chelsea expected us to have the guts to take our work outside these lines.
Chelsea and Saint martins do not teach Art, or Design, or Fashion, they teach creativity, or rather ‘how to find your own creativity/artistic personality.
Why FCP? How did you get to CSM?
During my foundation course at Chelsea, I specialized in Graphic Design, but when it came to choosing the BA I wanted to apply for I realized that only one suited me, was Fashion Communication with Promotion, or how to communicate fashion creatively in the media.
It sounded very abstract but exactly in the middle of my two passions Graphic Design and Fashion. I guess I did not exactly choose CSM, I chose a BA.
So for the third time in a row I switched: and went to Fashion a month before the BA application deadline. It was probably one of the most challenging month of my life as I had to redo in 4 weeks what I had built for the past three month and make my portfolio a fashion-slash-graphic design-slash-photography portfolio. I had the great chance of being supported by an amazing tutor which dedicated a lot of hours to make sure I would be ready on time. Even my mother came for the last week of work to feed me like a child!
What was your party time in CSM? Any stories and pictures to share?
Haha I was a real bigot. I don’t think I even went to any of the freshers parties. I did not go to a student hall and decided to move in with my best friends from Paris and I think I missed a lot on the social side of things.
Tell us about the FCP course. What you have liked about it, what you didn’t?
FCP is a very abstract BA. It is a bit of everything except design. It goes from journalism, to photography, or styling to Art Direction. I think nobody really knows what we are up to… If nobody at the school understands what we do, try describing it to your close friends and family… they just don’t get it. Personally I always say I study Photography, its much easier when I dont want to get into the details…
Even I don’t think I knew what I was up to until the end of my second year when I understood where my strengths and passions lied.
I progressively understood that I was shit at styling, probably because I don’t care enough about fashion in itself, but was passionate about inventing a visual story/mood/atmosphere around it.
Which tutor had the biggest impact on you and your work?
Two of them, Hywel Davies, and Judith Watt. Hywel is perhaps the most hardworking and invested person I know.
Hywel sends 5 emails a day, all sent between 4AM and 6AM, perfect glasses, a buttoned-up shirt and a mix of sweetness and rigor: ‘Nice is not a word’. I never saw someone that devoted to his BA and students. I used to be afraid of him and his emails before I realized that they were just a great testimony of his devotion for his students.
On the other hand, there is Judith, our Fashion History Tutor. Incredibly messy red hair, matched with an orange bag pack as flamboyant as her coiffure, sitting on top of the incredible gowns she collects. She does not teach fashion history, she lives it. I honestly do not think I ever met someone as passionate as she. The way she talks about fashion history is liked she lived it herself and met all the people and lived these times. From Worth, to Fath or McQueen, she loves them passionately and makes you love them as much.
I think that for both of them it is the type of tutors you want to give your best to, You can’t give them less than that just because they invest themselves so much.
The best things I learnt during my time at CSM?
That creativity is not something that can be taught, but something that can only be revealed to you, and CSM is the tool for this transformation to happen.
The environment is so extraordinary itself, just look at the students, they wear their creativity. There is no shame or shyness involved: it’s all out there, its bursting with creativity. You leave this school transformed, with a real artistic personality: because you managed to get rid of all the boundaries that hold you back from real creativity.
To me CSM helped me become mature towards creativity. It‘s certainly not here to teach you a job, but to find your creative identity. Life will find you the job.
What are the 3 do’s and dont’s for an FCP student?
Be pro-active: something I had a hard time doing the whole time I was there, I was all about the research, but at some point you just need to start producing! Don’t be ashamed of not being a design student, just because you chose not to be! Collaborate with other pathways as much as you can, shoot collections from fashion design students, ask graphic student for advices, ask design students for props… it is all about mixing your talent with another, and trusting that person in its creativity!
Did you do the internship year? Where? What important things did you learn?
I was at Louis Vuitton in Marc Jacobs studio for a full year.. It was perhaps the most amazing year of my life althought it really felt like being on a rollercoaster. Every season starts on a slow tempo with research, then the sketching, the fittings, more and more fittings, Marc’s arrival from NY. It always feels like a countdown. The last weeks, the last days the last hours, the last minutes before the show.
The studio team for womenswear is quite small for such a big house, it is about 15 people, that feel like your family by the time you reach the show! It is a lot about multitasking and collaborating. I also got to chance to be stylist asstitant on a few shoots for the campaign and the brochure.
Working in Marc Jacobs close team was also a blessing: he has such extensive knowledge and an incredible visual memory. He is facinating. And very kind and enthusiastic at the same time, especially when this energy is needed towards the end when nobody has slept in days.
I could go on and on about my internship there, I felt priviledged.
What is your overall impression of the course.
I think that this course gets better every year, I did not really like my first year, I didn’t know what was expected from me, but then second year you really start finding your way, industry year is the best and gives you a lot of maturity, which gets you ready for third year which is so personal and tough at the same time.
Any advice for someone who wants to do the course? And to students who are now doing it.
Collaborate with people outside your pathway and do you industry year, it will change you and give you a whole new eprspective on your work but also on the industry.
What are your plans for the future?
Going back to Vuitton! For a job this time in the visual merchanding departement… can’t tell you much about it right now as I haven’t started yet! But it sounds very promising!
Tell about your final project in CSM? What idea stands behind it? What was the process of making it? What are the plans for it? Any projects or ideas coming up?
Let’s start with the name: an Atelier is an artist studio, it is a place of research, experiments, and accidents: it‘s an artist laboratory. I wanted my magazine to feel the same. Bringing back the sensuality of the object at the same time. Completely handcrafted, Atelier indulges in these imperfect experiments with textures and colours giving life to an inanimate object. It deliberately wears the trace of its making, rather than relying on sterile digital rendering, in the hope of making the most of the intimate connection between man and object.
The original magazine is entirely hand made: from the binding, to the content: all the photography is mine, all the typing is mine (all done on a type writer… perhaps the worst idea in the world it was incredibly long and hard). There is no retouching involved, no photoshop, no computer. My imagery also reflects this long for sensuality and craftiness: a play on textures and colours
The notion of time is really important to my magazine: such is the advancement of technology that spending time on one’s work has become a sign of clumsiness, at best a luxury. Atelier wishes to give back to time its true value by making something tangible out of time. An aesthetic experience, be it that of the artist or that of the audience, should not be determined by a stopwatch
We tend to only care about the end product, forgetting that its making is just as fascinating.
Led by intuition, the magazine does not follow a linear narrative, it is open to what might happily feed inspiration. Just like fashion is constructed by ideas bleeding into other ideas. Atelier unfolds like a continuous mood board, with a beginning, a middle and an open end. Every issue of Atelier tells a story about the time we live in, This very first issue goes from regression to projection, from looking back to looking forward, from familiarity to the unknown, this first volume of Atelier Magazine is an ode to the spirit of time.