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A Critical Review of UOB Atelier Fashion Show & Graduate Fashion Week Exhibition.

Atelier. This was the name of our end of year fashion show 2014. The word means ‘in progress’ which defined us as a group of designers as we are still learning and finding our own paths in the fashion industry. Curation by definition means a range of processes to manage, maintain or create an overall outcome. This describes the path followed to create a show/exhibition.

Graduate fashion week. This was an event that I had never attended before this year. When I received the brief for this project, I began researching on what Universities would be part of the exhibition. What coursework would be on display etc? This helped me prepare for my visit. An event of this scale was extremely well advertised, they had various sponsors, a well equipped website, media interest with the word spread through fashion bloggers and other internet sources. They also took the social media route, including Instagram, Facebook & Twitter. This immediately made it clear that as the project manager of the Atelier advertising team, I potentially could have increased awareness. If I’d researched into this further, instead of focusing on the social media side of promotion & visual advertisements such as posters/flyers.

I went to GWF armed with a notebook and camera phone. I was unsure if I would be allowed to take photos as some exhibitions prohibit this, which was the purpose of the notebook so that I could make a detailed record of what I saw, felt & thought. I’ll admit that I was very impressed with the standard of work that was displayed however, there were some sections where I felt that the space could’ve been used better. For example, rather than having a selection of strong portfolio work, there were a number of institutions that felt it would be more beneficial to spread as many folders across a surface as possible. This was confusing and made it difficult to see the work clearly. In some spaces, there was limited room for visitors to move which discouraged me to stop and look through all the portfolios as I felt pressured to move on. This did remind me of Atelier and how there was such limited seating for guests. I liked that there were plenty of business cards available to take and felt that this was something that we could have potentially done for our show. I did notice that the word Atelier was featured in a number of places which clearly shows that many creators consider themselves still learning and progressing as industry professionals.

As I worked my way around the separate exhibits, I noticed different elements that each had focused on, for example; John Moores University had a set of vibrant, crisp white lighting. This was done to enhance the white material of the garments on display. Another university had large scale images of human/animal organs to showcase the inspiration for their designs. I felt that this was an odd theme for a collection but when I looked through the portfolio, it made a really original, conceptual piece of work. Plymouth College of Art had created their own newspaper which showcased each designer, their designs & a brief overview of their conceptual thinking behind their work. I fully believe that having a kind of programme for Atelier would have been extremely beneficial as I received feedback from guests that they weren’t sure of the garments concept or who they belonged to. I feel that having information like this could be valuable to the show as it would’ve allowed onlookers to understand our work and give an insight to the reasoning behind it.

GWF was clearly labelled throughout; each institution had its own sign so I knew what work I was looking at. Most also labelled which course the portfolios were for as well. Something I noticed which I felt was important to the entire exhibition was that all the portfolios displayed were in the same folder. All black, ring bound with smooth black velvet interior. I felt that this gave a united professionalism to the work, small details such as this that can make a big difference to an individual’s work.

When ultimately comparing Atelier to GFW, it is clear that there were some missed opportunities that I believe would’ve enhanced our shows quality. Details like; crediting the work to the designer, providing more information to communicate the conceptual relationship between the set and designs. GFW worked because it displayed clear correlation between design & display. Atelier ran smoothly as a show but I felt it was made to look effective through the 250 boxes, rather than relate to our work. In conclusion, from comparing GWF with Atelier; I’ve learnt that small details count & a shows success depends on the series of creative choices that come together in unison to clash or complement one another.

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