The fashion industry is a complex system. Producing images of glamour, luxury and creativity, the intricate organization behind the scenes of the production of these images remains largely a mystery. What professionals produce these images? Whom does the public for this work valorize? How do power structures and hierarchies manifest within this industry and what does it take for one to rise to the top?
On December 7th, 2017, the first year masters students opened their first research exhibition titled ShowOFF at Glassbox Gallery, where students sought to create a deeper understanding of fashion labour behind the scenes at a fashion editorial photoshoot. Students interrogated the power relations manifest in the industry using different theoretical frameworks including Deluze, Foucault, and Goffman to show the ways in which relations of power are played out during the making of a fashion editorial.
Research for the exhibition began with students conducting interviews with people in various roles working on the same editorial shoot for a magazine, gathering first hand accounts from all levels of the fashion hierarchy from the producer and art director to various assistants. These interviews gave the students raw data from which they could begin to understand the power relations that are built within the fashion industry.
The research was creatively presented on four different tables, some groups creating their own books based on their research while others placed raw data – books, articles, and media – to create a meaningful conversation based on their theoretical framework. Attendees had the opportunity to interact with the materials, flipping through books, listening to sound clips and watching selected film and television clips.
The vernissage began with a round table discussion with photographer Joan Braun, stylist Teddy Czopp and art director for Carven Paris Karim Zehouane, mediated by Professor Giulia Mensitieri. The discussion exposed a great deal of what goes into each person’s job within the industry and what it takes to get where they are, confirming in many ways the research presented by the students. Following the discussion, the students presented each table to attendees, then the show opened up for people to explore and ask questions. The exhibition remained open to the public throughout the weekend.
For a review of the show in French, click the following link: https://www.lesinrocks.com/2017/12/08/style/assistants-stagiaires-decorateurs-agents-hommage-aux-metiers-de-lombre-de-la-mode-111019810/
Glassbox Gallery, December 7 – 10, 2017, 4 Rue Moret, 75011, Paris
Words: Philippa Nesbitt
Images: Ariel Stark
Graphic Design: Monica Fraile Morisson