IFA Paris Artistic Director Jean-Marc Chauve tells us more about preparing for and staging this spectacular event that took place at la Maison des Metallos at the end of January.
IFA Paris: For this 2019 Master of Arts in Contemporary Fashion Design Graduation Fashion Show, nine students had the opportunity to show their final collection on the runway at la Maison des Metallos on January 25th. Who evaluated these students’ collections and how did the selection process go?
Jean-Marc Chauve: The selection of the graduation collections for the Master of Contemporary Fashion Design class is very transparent since it is made by a jury of professionals who evaluate and grade the “collection project” module, the final module of this program. It is obviously very important that professionals, who come from various fashion companies and luxury brands, who all have different backgrounds in the fashion industry, can evaluate these collections according to the requirements of today’s fashion industry. It is important since students either already have a previous professional background or will enter professional life directly after this program. For example, this year we asked Laetitia Jacquetton, Director of Galeries Lafayette’s private labels, Lucille Mossimann, who works at the Marine Serre studio, or Thibaud Romain, a photo designer who works for both independent magazines and celebrities. Their job is to judge these students’ collections through their professional viewpoint and to select the collections that they felt meet the requirements of a professional Parisian fashion show. There is no pre-defined number of collections to be showcased, and it would eventually possible that all the students’ collections are of a high enough level to be part of the show.
IFA Paris: Precisely, what is the selection criteria for the graduation fashion show, as this year we saw collections of very different and diverse styles?
Jean-Marc Chauve: Style is not a criteria at all and students have complete freedom to explore their own universe and styles, to choose the type of products they want to develop, their positioning…etc. This year we have at the same time very “Couture” collections, more streetwear inspirations, or very experimental collections. The only criteria is “contemporaneity”, professionalism, particularly in the development of the collection but also in the production of the garments, overall coherence and the fact of having considered the commercial reality of the collection. This explains why we can have collections where the commercial potential is quite obvious, such as those of Sandra Freiman or Xiaoyu Li. And there are others that may seem very avant-garde and not very wearable, such as those of Zoé Gray and Chloé Kerr, but which have been conceived as “image” collections with products, whose development would allow the production of a commercial line.
IFA Paris: Is organizing a fashion show in January a little unusual for fashion show in Paris?
Jean-Marc Chauve: On the contrary, it is quite logical as it corresponds to the end of the “academic” part of the Master of Contemporary Fashion Design program, which lasts 15 months and then allows the students to carry out internships until the end of the academic year. But above all, it seems very important to us to include this show in the fashion industry’s calendar to be as close as possible to the professionals. However, January is the period of the Mens Fashion Week and Haute Couture in Paris, so the Master of Contemporary Fashion Design graduation show takes place during this time.
This can complicate the organization a little bit, but it does allow us for example to use professional models and especially to invite fashion industry professionals, who are in Paris only during the fashion week period.
IFA Paris: Can you tell us how the fashion show is actually organized and staged?
Jean-Marc Chauve: Again, although we only have a limited budget, which is that of a fashion school and is nowhere near the budget of the brands that showcase during Paris Fashion Week, it is very important to create a fashion show that is as professional as possible and that is a rewarding experience for our graduating students who show case their collections. This is therefore done in a rather classic way: after the choice of the venue, of the “set” with the choice of lighting, of any decorating devices (quite limited since they have to adapt to very different collections), we organize a casting with partner model agencies who give us “school” prices, since we really want to use professional models. Then comes the most complicated part, which is the fittings, where each silhouette is assigned to a model and the passing order is finalized. For this part, the students must be very involved since it is sometimes necessary to adjust the designs so as to fit the models, to finalize the styling of the silhouette and sometime change the line-up. Then the make-up and hair choices are made in collaboration with our partners Make Up for Ever Academy and the Agathe Segura Hairdressing School, which again must be able to work with collections of different styles. All this work is done in the 4 or 5 days before the show. These days are very hectic and intense days but are crucial for the show to go on smoothly.
IFA Paris: Finally, can you tell us about the students’ inspirations behind the collections of this year’s fashion show?
Jean-Marc Chauve: Two main types of inspirations can be identified: collections that are a way for their designer to talk about or question their own path, such as Marko Ilievski’s collection, which draws inspiration from traditional clothing from his native Macedonia to conceive silhouettes for the future. Or Sandra Freiman, who is inspired by her own life as a daughter of Swedish farmers or perhaps Lydia Lu, who imagines futuristic clothes based on elements of ancestral Chinese philosophy. Also, Lemaris Lorenzo who is inspired by traditional dances from her native Puerto Rico. But there are other themes that run through our developed societies and that have echoes, for example, in the collections of New York Fashion Week, which has just ended: the place of women in the #metoo era, still with Sandra Freiman, who is inspired by a Swedish artist Sigrid Hertjen to develop this theme. The expansion of traditional notions of beauty in the Instagram era with Zoé Gay’s “Ugli Beauti” collection, a theme that can also be found in the works of Tuyana Darzha and Xiaoyu Li but treated very differently. The gender fluidity and the notion of shared creations in Chloé Kerr’s works, or recycling in an ultra-urbanized world in Cheng-Ting Liu’s works. This is what is so fascinating about fashion, especially that of our young designers: it is a way of interpreting the evolution of our world.
For more information on this program, please see: Master of Arts in Contemporary Fashion Design
Enjoy the full video of our graduation fashion show on our YouTube Channel.