Alongside greats like Raf Simons for Dior haute couture and Martin Margiela’s artisanal line, graduates of the Ecole nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs (ENSAD) counted themselves among the highlights of the 2012/2013 Autumn/Winter haute couture week in Paris The Daily Couture looked forward to bringing to light.
For the aspiring designers, summer means not only graduation but an important opportunity to showcase their talent to both the media and to professionals in their fields, be it animation, fashion or design.
Runway Fashion&Senses by the 2012 ENSAD promotion: students from clothing design section exult the concept
There’s a prescient quality to the ENSAD team and according to Geneviève Gallot, director of ENSAD they “show a firm commitment to the future.” The ENSAD show took place at the Garden of the Observatoire de Paris, the biggest observatory and space research center in France. The observatory provided a magnificent backdrop to the socially conscious collections presented by twelve of the fashion design graduates.
The ENSAD promotion stood out to Daily Couture for its use of hybrid materials and fabrics as well as its dynamic presentation: each collection was matched with a fragrance from The International Flavors and Fragrances, the first producers of artificial fragrances in consumer goods.
Inspired by 1950’s iconography, Charles Pottier’s collection revolved around pleats and counter pleats creating a very structured look. Titling his collection, “The one everybody is talking about,” his collection is dedicated to the woman’s body. A smoke and mirrors presentation, the simple structure of his dresses creates an illusion: looking at them from different angles reveals curves. That would be a man’s idea, wouldn’t it?
Androgyny is at the core of Juliette Gourad’s “Palimpseste,” where she strived to rewrite fashion codes. Power clashing takes flight, melded together with harmonious use of color. Her idea is that colors can create artificial fluidity.
Lysmina Attou explored power and fashion by paying homage to the symbolist novel Tomorrow’s Eve by August Villiers de l’Isle Adam. She manipulates the idea of the ideal body by conjuring images of the medical field. In her collection, she showcased what is regarded as ideal female bodies , featuring anatomically corrected organs by medical membranes. The concept of her collection can be related to the famous 1997 spring summer collection of Rei Kawabuko, known as the bump collection.
Master craftsmanship by fashion college students in Paris with the Astral Fashion Show
The Daily Couture attended the annual fashion show put together by young fashion graduates at Grand Amphithéâtre of the Sorbonne in Saint Michel. Supported by the biggest names in French couture, Chanel, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, L’Oreal and the French Federation of Shoes, the 2012 fashion show featured pieces conceived and realized by two-hundred students from five fashion colleges in Paris.
As a prerequisite for moving on to their next year of study (or graduation), the students were asked to conceive a collection in 120 hours. All the design proposals were inspired by a theme. This year it was “the stars.”
The students from D’Alembert, Elisa Lemmonier, Octave Feuillet, Paul Poiret and Turquetil featured pieces from all parts of the fashion industry: pattern-making, shoe-making, leather goods, hair and beauty and embroidery. Unusual to France, the event itself was student-run. The college Leonard de Vinci contributed to the scenography, SEGPA Jacques Prevert created the flower design and the College of Erik Satie headed hospitality.
Lasting longer than an hour, 158 pieces were revealed by amateur models. The models presented their pieces by carrying a number, each number corresponding with a data sheet that listed the name and creator of the design.
Out of the 158 pieces presented, a few were exceptional, such as a dress made from feathers titled, “Diane at the Garden of Eden,” created by first and second year students at Octave Feuillet.
The winner of the First Prize for the Evening dress, Adelaide Brient from Octave Feuillet, was offered a computer with the Vetigraph software. It was given by the president himself, Pascal Jehan.
There’s plenty of food for thought about the state of fashion and craftsmanship education in France, where liberal arts colleges remain the norm. While in 2011, the government aimed at giving back value to technical skills, making drawing a compulsory skill to learn in all schools in order to empower students who want to acquire broader skillsets.
Master craftsmen don’t always share the vision of the French government. According to Sania Monégier, the director of the Association of Training for Tailoring (AFT), dedicating oneself to practice should be maintained in teaching crafts.
She regards specialization of students as the key to perpetuate some traditional craftsmanship and resents the idea of enhancing teaching of all kinds of skills. She does not believe that a student should become a jack of all trades, but instead, focus on one skill. (That is, she doesn’t believe skills like drawing should become compulsory; rather students should pick one course of study only.) By focusing on one skill, they will be able to progress more, rather than becoming only adequate at many skills.
One thing is for sure though and that is that master craftsmanship and the training enabling their mastery needs to be valued. In this time of graduation ceremonies and fashion shows by the students, it was the opportunity for the Daily Couture to explore this issue.
Translation by Katya Ungerman