Sunday, 28 June 2015

Degree Show Report 1: Wimbledon College of Arts (Theatre Design)

Two things I've learnt whilst training as a stylist (along with about 10,001 other things, some of which I may share with you at a later date) are that keeping tabs on other emerging creatives, and topping up your reserves of inspiration wherever possible, are both crucial, so, to those ends, Mummy Muses and I spent our Saturday on a whistlestop tour of this year's UAL degree show exhibitions, taking in Theatre Design at Wimbledon, Textile Design at Chelsea and Fashion and Jewellery Design at CSM.

And... wow. What a feast of visual delicacies: I took so many photos my iPhone overheated, and I'm going to have to publish a separate post for each college so as not to overheat yours, but, sadly, I don't think any number of images will be able to match the experience of getting up close and personal with the pieces themselves - so many elements of the textures and craftsmanship which "explode" in front of you just can't be recreated in 2D (at least without models and professional lighting!) ...But, since it's now too late for you to check out the shows yourself, I've done my best to document the experience as comprehensively as possible...

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WCA's Welcoming Montage - We're pretty sure this is Art

First stop, a handy 14 minutes away on the train, was Wimbledon College of Arts. Had we had sufficient time, we could have spent an entire day at any one of the schools we visited, there was so much to see - but, given our time constraints, we chose to focus on the clothing-related shows, which, at Wimbledon, meant costume design. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given my own theatrical background, I'm often told by my teachers at LCS that my styling teeters somewhat precariously on the borderline between "fashion" and "theatre", so perhaps visiting this exhibition would be a little dangerous, but so be it!

Bowie Costume
David Bowie's "Ashes to Ashes" music video costume, recreated by one of WCA's graduating students

On stepping inside, we were greeted by this amazing David Bowie costume replica - well, that was me and Mummy Muses sold instantly. Over the next hour, we saw an incredible mixture of historical, stage and screen pieces replicated from photographic sources and patterns (genuinely as good as being in the V&A!), alongside original pieces designed by the students for their own invented characters (many of which were inspired by objects in Windsor Castle, including the chandelier-based design below!). Here are a selection...


Wimbledon College of Arts Costume Design


Forgotten Woman
"The Forgotten Woman", complete with layer of dust...
Wimbledon College of Arts Costume Design 3

Wimbledon College of Arts Costume Design 2

Wimbledon College of Arts Costume Design 1

Wimbledon College of Arts Costume Design 4
The piece on the left was inspired by a 1920s fashion sketch by Sonia Delaunay, shown at the foot of the pedestal
Wimbledon College of Arts Costume Design 5

Wimbledon College of Arts Costume Design 10

Once Upon A Time + Star Wars Episode III Costumes
L: Replication of costume worn by Lana Parrilla in Once Upon A Time; R: Replication of dress worn by Natalie Portman in Star Wars: Episode III
Wimbledon College of Arts Costume Design 8

Wimbledon College of Arts Costume Design 9

Wimbledon College of Arts Costume Design 6
L: Replication of Edwardian Day Dress; R: Replication of 1930s Beach Outfit (- palazzo pant alert!)
Wimbledon College of Arts Costume Design 7
L: Replication of 1920s Flapper Outfit; R: Replication of 1950 "Safari Suit"

Once we'd had a good look at every scrap of fabric on offer, we had a mosey through the Set/Prop Design and Fine Art shows - I won't go into a full review here, but, again - WOW. Amongst other wonders, full scale sculptures and bronzes which would have looked at home in the Louvre, and installations which could fool you into thinking you were standing in the Tate.

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Aside from the delight of viewing some breathtaking creations from some of the people who will no doubt be steering costume design into the future, I think I came away with a better understanding of the (sometimes fine) demarcation between fashion and theatre, which was to crystallise further throughout the day. So, with a massive "bravo" to the Wimbledon grads, it was back onto the train to check out Chelsea...


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