As fashion brands all over the world — from Gucci to Prada to Burberry — rethink the way we create, interact and consume fashion, so too have local fashion institutions such as Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Lasalle College of the Arts and Raffles College of Higher Education.
Earlier this year, these three fashion schools announced the cancellation of their physical student showcases. But as Singapore enters into Phase Two of reopening with eased restrictions, the schools have announced they’ll feature the works of their graduates via digital and social platforms.
One such example isBehind the Seams, a five-part Instagram series initiated by lecturers Rohaizatul Azhar and Furqan Saini at Lasalle College of the Arts’ School of Fashion to spotlight fashion graduates. This special initiative was launched on the brand new integrated Instagram account @1McNallyFashion on July 6.
Behind the Seams is also a build-up to the students’ virtual runway show titled Society of the Spectacle happening on July 16. We speak to the school’s head of fashion Circe Henestrosa, and Dinu Bodiciu, its lecturer-in-charge of the BA (Hons) Fashion Design & Textiles programme to find out more.
Can you walk us through the thought process behind Society of the Spectacle and Behind the Seams?
Circe Henestrosa (CH): We have to constantly respond to the changing needs of the fashion industry and if we want to remain relevant, we have to adapt and be creative. In the School of Fashion at Lasalle College of the Arts, we want to inspire our students to develop their own fashion language and become globally engaged creative thinkers and makers. We want our students to have a broader understanding of fashion from an Asian and global perspective putting an emphasis on sustainability, the future of crafts and entrepreneurship.
At Lasalle, we conceive fashion as a collaborative system and these mini-series and fashion shows are not the exception. For example, the mini-series are led by Furqan Saini and Rohaizatul Azhar, working in collaboration with our BA (Hons) Fashion Media and Industries students and our BA (Hons) Fashion Design and Textiles students. The series will introduce the students’ works in preparation for the fashion show, so our students can engage with the public before we present their final collections in the digital fashion show.
We have split the series according to the students’ broader research interests such as sustainability, heritage, and craftsmanship, future identities and textiles and textures. The digital fashion show will culminate with the presentation of the works of the 17 graduating Fashion Design and Textiles students in a cool digital environment that will reflect our Covid-19 situation and the way we responded to it in creative ways.
Dinu Bodiciu (DB): This digital communication thus allows us to share more and showcase the amazing works of our graduating students. We hope that this show, which is anchored in the main digital platforms, will allow a seamless dialogue between the public and the young graduates.
In what ways have you prepared your students for the ever-changing fashion landscape that is now becoming increasingly digital-focused?
CH: I think we all have been working very hard in our different industries, Zooming and communicating in this new virtual space. The Covid-19 restrictions were only imposed almost at the end of the academic year, so in our case at Lasalle, while no extreme changes were made to teaching and learning, our teams and our students had to work very hard to get through the period.
From this experience, our students have now learned how to work in a completely digital environment. They have become more multi-skilled individuals because they were exposed to creative problem solving, and this experience allowed them to become more flexible, adaptable and more agile. I also think they learned to look at fashion from a bigger perspective. If any graduating cohort is prepared for the new digital era, it’s definitely the 2020 graduating cohort worldwide.
What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking of embarking on a career in fashion in Singapore?
CH: Go for it! All the students who are graduating this year are capable of producing wonderful things and creating real changes. Become those individuals who can now look at fashion with fresh eyes. At the end of any pandemic, there is always a rebirth, and I think it is in the hands of all of you, who have gone through this experience, to thrive and come up with that re-birth for the fashion industry. I want to encourage all of you to be experimental, to take risks, and contribute towards the possibility of a better fashion ecosystem in Asia and beyond.
We also spoke to the 17 students from BA (Hons) Fashion Design & Textiles to find out what their experience has been like putting together a fully realised fashion collection during this period.
Click through the gallery above to meet them.
This article originally appeared in Harper’s Bazaar Singapore.