At the beginning of each academic year, the first project we’re given is always the Collaboration project, which is a group task where first and second years work together to produce a garment that fits the criteria on the brief. Last year, I was a fresh, new first year being thrown into my first experiences of the fashion world, led by the seemingly all-knowing second years to work to the title “In Flight”. I bumbled through this project, knowing next to nothing at first, but learning more and more every day from the tutors and other students, eventually producing a dragonfly-inspired dress that we were all proud of. But this time, I am the “all-knowing” second year, who, alongside my classmate Mollie, had to share my wisdom with the new students.
Sounds straightforward, right? The only problem was, now that I was in the driver’s seat for the first time, I had absolutely no idea how to teach, or even what to teach in order to get the result we wanted. This was, after all, an entirely new project, with entirely new possibilities and ideas, and so I was still learning myself, having to find out new ways around new problems as we went along.
The theme this year was “The Elements of Life”. We were split into 6 different groups: Fire, Water, Earth, Air, Heart and Spirit, and we had no choice of who we were working with, or what element we had. I had the element ‘Earth’, with 2 second years and 3 first years in my group.
The first week of six consisted of throwing all our ideas at each other, thinking about all the possibilities surrounding Earth; animals, people, rocks, nature, plants, natural disasters and so many more. Earth is such a vast subject, with so many connotations, that it was difficult to decide on our final ideas, but eventually, after a lot of disagreements, we decided to combine natural disasters with precious stones- showing how no matter how destructive the Earth can be, and how much sorrow it can bring, there is always something beautiful to be found deep within.
Cheesy, I know.
So once the idea was decided on, it was full steam ahead for research and design, we looked into the textures created by disasters and precious stones, how natural disasters happen and how precious stones are formed, and the colours and shapes that can be found in all of these things. Eventually we produced a design that we were all happy with, which drew inspiration from smoke, cracks in the earth from drought and the rocks and gems that can be found deep within the earth’s crust.
By the end of week two, we were ready to go shopping for our fabrics in Cardiff, so as a group, we all caught the train in and picked what would suit our design. The budget was initially £15 each, so £17 in total, but I guess we all have expensive taste, as we decided to buy the higher quality fabrics, in the more closely matched colours, we went over budget and spent £97 in total.
The next 4 weeks were spent making our design a reality. We began by manipulating our fabric to show the desired surface textures; we used pin tucks, gathering, slashing and fraying, machine cords and trapunto to represent Earth. This took 2 weeks to complete entirely, and then we finally got started on cutting the pieces for the dress.
Once all the pieces were cut, it was a quick process from then on, having the garment assembled and finishing touches made within a week.
Overall, I’m really proud of what we achieved as a group in the first 6 weeks of term, and every group impressed me this year.