That might not be a deliberate choice. Some of the students might have even been frustrated with the lack of available it-models in their northern town, or grown tired of the surrounding nature, craving Berlin raves, London department stores, or exhibitions in Paris instead. But nevertheless, the distance between these students and the cradles of convention ‒ amplified by travel restrictions ‒ positively impacted both their work and the skills they had to develop in order to get there. It’s tangible in the casting of their lookbook models, the themes they reference, and the words they use to describe their work. Where else could you “eat lunch outside and then jump in the canal, before going back in and working on our projects,” as Agnes Thomsen shared?
Independence never led to individualism, though, as students were encouraged to share their work and learned to give feedback to others in an environment that wasn’t competitive.
Over the past year, the school has undergone an internal reformation that wasn’t without difficulties, deciding on a sudden switch from arts and crafts to technology and sustainability, which led to students feeling uninformed about the process. Nevertheless, the class managed to make lemonade and learned a lot from the freedom given to them by the school. “The best thing about our education is the creative freedom we were given. In both developing and presenting projects there has been a certain amount of independence that has turned out to be in an amazing ‘trust your own intuition’ training,” explained Asier Quintana. Students felt left to their own devices, which can be both positive and negative. “I’ve been at once both better at asking for help and at the same time becoming more self-sufficient and independent,” added Nina Balstrup.
That independence never led to individualism, though, as students were encouraged to share their work and learned to give feedback to others in an environment that wasn’t competitive. “I remember I felt very insecure and nervous about sharing my creative writing and poems for the first time with my classmates and teachers, but the way they received my presentation makes it one the fondest memory,” wrote Caroline Hundsholt. “We shared a very special and emotional moment. I was so relieved and touched by the experience, and this was actually the beginning of a new creative path for me where I felt brave enough to use my poems in my design processes.”
Surrounded by cold water and raw nature, somewhat detached from regular fashion calendars, schools like the Royal Academy might hold part of the solutions our industry needs: “The importance of community.” replied Andri Annarson when asked about what he learned. “A family of fashion designers loving, supporting and taking care of each other seemed like a utopia given how competitive and capitalistic our field is. But now I believe it is the future.”