Representing the creative future

Going out, inside: CSM designers partying in lockdown

Fashion designers bringing club culture into their homes

Fashion designers bringing club culture into their homes

For numerous creatives both in university and across the industry, social life and design are interlinked. To overcome the physical restrictions of the lockdown, CSM MA Fashion graduates Katya Zelentsova and Gui Rosa have been putting the technology, Houseparty, to work as a means of keeping pace with their social lives and maintaining the necessary inspiration to continue making.

Gui Rosa with roomate Harry housepartying with their friends

“Fashion is all about socialisation, it’s so important. I think that we can’t really deprive ourselves too much of that – I don’t want to deprive myself!” Gui states. With that said, in a living room bedecked with kitchen foil, Gui and his housemate Harry Freegard have been sustaining their formerly thriving social lives, celebrating Friday and Saturday evenings with friends, such as Katya Zelentsova, Gigi Hari and Masha Popova, online. “With our e-friends it was like a ritual: the first three weeks we did the whole outfit preparation upstairs, and then we popped down into the living room for the party. The living room is currently covered in kitchen foil, which is pretty unsustainable, but we have kept it, so I think it’s ok if we keep on using it for every event. We just patch it up whenever it falls down. We even followed Tom Ford’s guidelines for the best lighting!”

Gui trying on their CSM MA collection at their flat, wrapped up in foil
Katya trying on outfits and makeup for her e-party with her friends

“It is a pretty integral part of my process because you kind of make little bits and bobs and then try them out at a party and then polish it up for the collection.”

These e-parties have become somewhat of a lockdown mainstay for the group, a way of staying tethered to the tempo of life pre-COVID-19. The key to these events is encouraging one another to work within a set theme, in order to keep the nights creative. “You can’t just put on whatever,” Katya explains. Describing her favourite quarantine outfit thus far, she says, “I have this fake Paco Rabanne dress that I got in Paris for like 4 euros, it’s a chainmail tunic with chain fringing and it’s just fun to swish about in.”

For Katya, using clothing as an immediate tool for personal transformation has always been at the heart of her design practice and the element that unifies her collections. “Clothing is the easiest thing that you can change about yourself and your immediate surroundings. It has always been about using clothing as a form of self-care.” What she and her friends wear on a night out has often had the potential to inspire elements of a collection further down the line. “It is a pretty integral part of my process because you kind of make little bits and bobs and then try them out at a party and then polish it up for the collection. I love getting ready to go out, doing makeup, and just kind of kicking. This is how I come up with ideas. The freedom of doing whatever you want and looking whichever way you want is so important.”

Katya trying on her designs

“It has always been about using clothing as a form of self-care.”

“We would have our crit on a Friday and then go back to the studio and work out something really quickly – a little outfit – and then go down to the student bar. Obviously, if it’s after a crit, you either want to celebrate or drown your sorrows. We’ve been trying to keep it up a bit because otherwise, Friday nights would just be unbearable,” Katya reflects on her time at CSM. An important part of isolation has been about recreating moments of connection and celebration with friends in ways that were so central to their experience at CSM. Likewise, for Gui, ‘Fashion, and partying, and going out fuels so much of what I make – the club culture aspect and just the joie de vivre.’

https://www.instagram.com/p/B_UtHv6Avzv/

Making in the CSM studios before the pandemic

“Although seemingly trivial, embracing these social rituals is about reminding ourselves of what makes us human; staying connected to the small things that have constituted much of the fabric of our daily lives until now.”

Although seemingly trivial, embracing these social rituals is about reminding ourselves of what makes us human; staying connected to the small things that have constituted much of the fabric of our daily lives until now. Simple pleasures such as connecting with friends, planning for the occasion, and dressing up in something that we love – these are all things that help us to recognise both ourselves and each other at a moment in which the world around us is unrecognisable.   

Making in the CSM studios pre-COVID-19
Gui's designs in quarantine

Discussing the constraints that lockdown has brought to her creative practice, Katya mentions, “I have no machinery, I have nothing at home. My sewing machine broke, so everything that I can do at the moment is entirely handmade. I can’t really sew, or overlock, or anything, but it pushes you to be creative – it’s all about problem-solving. I have been doing lots of bricolage with my accessories, which sounds very silly. I have accumulated so many knick-knacks over the years, little jewels and beads, so it’s been about finally getting to use all of that, which has been fun.”

“I think that in time, the things that I am working on will come out with a quarantine tint to them. Some sort of lockdown beauty.”

Beyond the obvious limitations of a life lived indoors, confinement also has the potential to cast an added layer of intimacy through design. Creating, whilst many of us feel slightly unmoored, might urge us to reconsider how fashion should make us feel, reminding us of what the essence of being a wearer is truly about, a notion that we must do our best to transcribe into the fashion landscape of post-pandemic life. As Gui puts it, “I think that in time, the things that I am working on will come out with a quarantine tint to them. Some sort of lockdown beauty.”

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