Monday, 24 May 2010

Fashion Fringe @ Covent Garden update

We're getting toward the business end of the FF@CG process. We've just been through what I've heard referred to as the weeding out process of this year's applicants. I hate that expression. There are no weeds in the creative world – although admittedly, they can't all be peonies (John Galliano's favourite flower), because not everyone can be the tops. But I refuse to accept that there are any real duds at this level.

I only sat in on the event, taking no real part except to offer the occasional biscuit (this was a very British occasion and as all Brits know cannot be decently concluded without a few biscuits). The process of actual selection was in very capable hands. Angela Quaintrell, doyenne of fashion merchandising in London, is the woman who single-handedly made Liberty a major fashion player and a firm supporter of all manner of young hopefuls, all of whom receive sage advice born of years of experience. Professor Roy Peach, dean of the graduate school at The London College of Fashion, also has great experience, having been a designer, trained at the Royal College, and now one of the most respected fashion academics in the country.

Both have that rare ability to understand what is good even when it is not to their personal taste – an objectivity lacking in the totally subjective assessments made in this city by people with not an iota of the knowledge of these two. The task was to reduce the field – very large this year – to the finalists whose work was couriered the next day to Paris to our judge John Galliano and his team to decide on the ten semi-finalists – which they are doing even as I write.

When we were having our breaks – much needed with such a high concentration business (more tea and biscuits) – Roy and Angela were talking about the pitfalls that so often catch out young designers. For example, drawings and fabrics that can't work together, because the fabric can't do the things the drawing assumes. As they said, sharp shapes and soft fabrics never work, no matter how good they look in a sketch. They both felt that digital prints had had their day in all but the most skilled hands because they look so flat and lifeless. The same with engineered as opposed to free-form fashion drawings. Again, so dead and giving no scope for the freedom of the hand gesture that has been the essence of drawing since prehistoric humans first daubed a line on a rock face.

One of the competitors quoted Dali on his application, however, and we all heartily agreed. Dali said, "The world needs more fantasy. Our civilization is too mechanical." So say all of us – and until young designers realise this, they and fashion are going nowhere very far, in my opinion.

I can't wait to learn John's ten finalists.

1 comment:

  1. so...finalists to be announced when exactly?!