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Exploring fashion across borders and boundaries

25th July 2017

Solent lecturer Jennifer Anyan’s recent workshop at Mumbai’s Indian School of Design & Innovation explored fashion across borders and boundaries.

“India is a creative economy that’s really blossoming,” says Solent University’s Jennifer Anyan, Head of Media and Fashion Styling, “and it’s a really interesting place for design.”

Jennifer recently visited the Indian School of Design & Innovation (ISDI) in Mumbai – building Solent University’s international links and delivering a three-day programme of workshops to ISDI fashion students and aspiring designers.

Participants in the workshop picked one of their group to model

“It was a fascinating challenge,” Jennifer says, “teaching workshops of 160 or more each day! But a really great day for the students – they were really enthused, broadening their horizon and approach to fashion.”

Fashioning Utopian Dreams, Jennifer’s workshop, introduced students to interdisciplinary artist and Bauhaus Professor Lászlo Moholy‐Nagy. 

Laszlo Moholy‐Nagy's composition-z-viii, 1924

“Recognised as influential in a number of areas of art and design, Moholy‐Nagy makes an interesting starting point, “Jennifer says. “He works fluidly across a range of media, and has an enduring influence.”

Jennifer then led the students to explore the work of an artist prominent in the seventies and eighties, Rebecca Horn. “She had a practice which was about transforming the body – she would create pieces of art which were designed to be worn. We were asking the students to think what it might look like if Lászlo Moholy‐Nagy’s practice were transposed onto a body – Rebecca Horn is an example of that.”

A still from Rebecca Horn's the feathered prison fan, 1978

Jennifer wrapped up the workshop with a look at contemporary designers who might have been influenced by Lászlo Moholy‐Nagy, and how that philosophy translates into fashion practice.

“Fashion at its most innovative level is about thinking differently, wide references, not looking at current trends and repeating them. Designers should be making conceptual leaps, thinking about bodies and forms for the body.”

The ISDI students then had the opportunity to display their own innovation and creativity. Working in groups of five or six, with set materials – red, black and white fabric, beading, paints – the students concepted, designed, made and styled a head-to-toe look for one chosen model from the group – all in the space of just four hours.

Students at the ISDI workshop, hard at work

A catwalk showcase at the end of the day gave the students a chance to show off their hard work.

ISDI students demonstrate their creations on the catwalk

“It was a pleasure to have Jennifer with us at ISDI for three highly productive and insightful days,” says Bulbul Chaudhary, Director of Outreach at ISDI. “To explore the work of contemporary artists and their influence on prevailing trends was a priceless learning experience – and certainly an eye-opener to view fashion from an altogether new and different point of view.

“I am sure it has left a lasting imprint on the students who participated and who will be the flag-bearers of ISDI in the future.”

For Solent students too, the visit is a first step towards fantastic new opportunities to broaden their experience. “With closer ties with ISDI, we’d eventually hope to encourage student exchange,” Jennifer says.

“India has such a rich history in terms of textiles, and the fashion comms industry in particular is really exciting. There are lots more magazines, lots more happening online; a lot of small new businesses opening up. It’s a really exciting place for fashion at the moment.”

Students designed and created their work in just a few hours

At the workshop, students used red, white and black to create bold new looks

Creations were inspired by the work of Rebecca Horn and others