BA Graphic Design students Phillip Koll and Oliver Vanes collaborated to create a new White Show experience, by ‘scanning’ the models from every angle and making the final image 360 degrees visual. Phillip explained that the main challenge for shooting the White Project, was the fact that one hardly sees depth or texture when photographing the colour. So, the duo got up close, shot every garment inside-out, and built a bridge between old and new ways of approaching photography.

We kick off the White Series — in which we will show the work of 1st year BA Fashion Design students who made garments for the project — with Paolina Alexandra Russo, who talks about inevitable bloodstains on her crisp white garment, furniture bondage, and ‘popping the bubble of Central Saint Martins’.

Please tell us about your White Project

My starting point was lovers, and I was looking at the idea of being interconnected and intertwined. I was obsessed with Melanie Bonajo’s book, “Furniture Bondage”. While browsing through it, I thought a lot about how the objects wrapped around the bodies, as if they were becoming one with the objects themselves.

My project took off when I found this costume-like trench coat, with the suitcases a traveller might carry being a part of the coat itself. It motivated me to go out and buy some trench coats to deconstruct and use in my toile. I also started isolating shapes from the pattern of the coats, blowing the shapes up and draping them. I wanted the pieces to be larger and have more of a sculptural element, so I began stuffing pieces with foam and wadding. I also wrapped sculptures and tubes to the body on top of the garment, which resembled a lot of the imagery I was looking at. The process became obsessive. I was continuously stacking and building objects on top of the body.


When others look at it, they would think of…

A comfy couch.

What was the hardest thing about working all in white?

Keeping the fabric white. It was three weeks of no makeup, and yelling at people who put drinks on the worktables. My attempts were futile because in the end I didn’t factor in how much I would actually bleed on my garment while sewing it. There are a lot of hidden bloodstains.

What have you learnt from doing the project?

How to actually sew and finish a garment properly. The only finished piece of clothing I made before the White Project was a collared shirt we made during studio inductions, the week before the project started. It was a huge challenge to learn how to construct a garment, but I think that it was a pretty good way to learn.

Has your first term at CSM lived up to your expectations?

The environment that the students create at CSM is unique. Everyone is talented, motivated and creating cool stuff all the time. However, I was disappointed because I felt so isolated from everyone outside of the fashion department. When I came to CSM, I was anticipating the development of my art, not only in fashion, but through everything else CSM has to offer. I’m curious about everything, and I am not the only one who would like to know more than what the course has to offer. A lot of students would like the opportunity to experiment with different mediums and to collaborate with people outside of their courses. I didn’t realise how difficult it would be to access other studios.  It is too easy to get sucked into the bubble. CSM is a bubble itself, and the bubble should be popped every once in a while.

If a great internship required you to bleach your eyebrows, would you do it?

I bleach them anyway. If they would do it for me, it would save me some money and bleach.

My life would be complete if…

I had dinner with Andre.

If you keep seeing that bao bao bag (square thing) – please visit your local Apple store for a complain. Try Chrome🙂

See more work by Paolina Alexandra Russo here

Photography by Phillip Koll and Oliver Vanes

Model: Davide di Teodoro

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