Representing the creative future

How was CSM’s White Show produced this year?

Meet the Fashion Communication students behind the first digital White Show

During the first term of their BA, the fashion design students are given meters of the profession’s most essential materials: white calico and white cotton. The result? The most memorable moment of the year for every student, of any discipline, at Central Saint Martins. This year the success of the iconic event fell on the shoulders of the Fashion Communication students who had the responsibility to make the White Show work from home, making this year’s event an ode to collaboration.

As the tradition holds, the first year Fashion Communication students are managing the making and communication of the event. We are looking into their process and hear about the obstacles they faced whilst producing this year’s White Show in the midst of a national lockdown.

THE PROCESS:

After working for three months on a physical show, the announcement of the lockdown did not only mean binning an immense amount of work, with the Set Design team having to literally throw their doings away, it also meant that the group had to quickly change their plans, put their feelings on the side and make it work. “For the first time, the public were able to experience the show in the same way as the fashion critics, eliminating the front row and establishing a sense of democracy amongst viewers,” FCP student Katie Hudson states.

“After the university closed [due to the lockdown] we had to navigate a way to produce the show without the garments and limited equipment, having to work digitally or with the content we already had.”

Starting the planning in October, the FCP students quickly realised that the task of organising their first-ever show during a pandemic was not a walk in the park. “We had to get used to working digitally, with the majority of our communications and meetings happening through zoom,  this dramatically changed the dynamic of collaborative work,” the students explain. “After the university closed [due to the lockdown] we had to navigate a way to produce the show without the garments and limited equipment, having to work digitally or with the content we already had.” As there was no time for the communication teams to shoot the garments, the fashion designers were in charge of recording short videos of their pieces, giving to the FCPs the task to make it work all together in one coherent presentation.

In order to tackle the overwhelming volume of work, which was double to any previous year, the event was divided into three conceptual axes: VOID, ODYSSEY, and MONITUS. “After deciding the three concepts, each core group expanded. It became crucial to stay organised and create a clear strategy, subgroups were created, each approaching a different aspect of the production. Every group had a team leader that would oversee the general production of the show and communicate with the other groups.  Being on such a multifaceted course means we have a lot of diversity in terms of our skills, we had people working in positions such as graphic designer, social media coordinator, set designer, and film director,” the FCP team says, reflecting on their process.

THE CONCEPT:

Every group was producing the show for a different pathway. VOID presented Fashion Design for Womenswear, ODYSSEY corresponded to Fashion Design for Menswear and Fashion Design with Marketing, and finally, MONITUS showed Fashion Knitwear and Print. “A lot of us were hesitant as to how we could make three different concepts work together, the unconventionality of the idea was daunting, this wasn’t what we expected the White Show to be,” the team says. “Despite the differences in our narratives, we were able to successfully combine them into a three-part saga, presenting three equally poignant critiques on the modern world.”

“Starting from thinking about the turmoil of the past few years and events such as forest fires in  Australia, turn of the world’s politics into a more conservative direction, Black Lives Matter, as well as institutional failures during the pandemic we decided to express our need for the reassessment of the society that follows new values.” – Maciej Knas

The three parts of the show have a strong political and social narrative. VOID discussed the notion of ego and the role of the muse which “often dictates a fashion image”, by removing the models and focusing on the creations as artifacts. ODYSSEY aimed to take the viewer on a journey from darkness to light. “Starting from thinking about the turmoil of the past few years and events such as forest fires in  Australia, turn of the world’s politics into a more conservative direction, Black Lives Matter, as well as institutional failures during the pandemic we decided to express our need for the reassessment of the society that follows new values,” Maciej Knas says, linking the show to the unsettling events of the last year. Continuing the commentary to today’s times, MONITUS was a clear remark on our dependency on technology and more specifically on our frustration with the digital. In Katie Hudson’s words, “we surrender our privacy, allowing for the monitoring of every thought, action, and movement (…) Our final outcome, a 3D rendering of the campus, was able to return the designers’ visions to the place of their conception, allowing them to exist – uncompromised.” 

THE LEARNINGS:

The lack of stability and control is raising a different type of creative professional: One that is replying on ideas and collaboration rather than fixed ideas and techniques. “I  have got better at letting go of certain visions and accepting the fact that change and uncertainty is our reality,” Macy Kerrigan explains. “It was valuable to have gotten the experience of preparing for both a physical and digital show, although only the latter was possible in the end,” her classmate Yiling Zhao adds.  “Any person can have a good creative idea but this project has shown to us that execution is far from the glamour of the fashion industry. It’s hard, consistent work and in order to make great ideas happen, you have to stay very focused and be resilient,” Maciej concludes. 

“It was valuable to have gotten the experience of preparing for both a physical and digital show, although only the latter was possible in the end.” – Yiling Zhao

The next generation of students redefines the definition of compromise from a bleak settlement to an exciting set of unexplored possibilities, delivering results that prove that the people behind the scenes are the core of the industry.

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