‘This was an experience valuable to any aspiring writer’
For media such as Modeconnect, Graduate Fashion Week is not so much a week as it is four days; four long, exciting and intense days during which our team reviewed 23 fashion shows and the collections of over 1,000 graduates. A lot happened in a very short space of time.
For the second year running, Modeconnect put together a strong team of young writers and photographers from different universities across the UK and reviewed every show at Graduate Fashion Week 2015. The idea was to produce reflective articles, allowing the student designers and a wider audience to take stock of what happens on the catwalk. Our team members who reported, photographed, reviewed and edited also had a chance to experience first-hand the fast pace of fashion journalism. They found this experience a unique opportunity to develop their fashion journalism skills.
Our writers were Megan Doyle, Emily Lyhne-Gold, Nerys d’Esclercs, Ruyi Meer and Safah Ahmed. Megan and Emily had both written for Modeconnect previously, whilst Nerys, Ruyi and Safah joined the Modeconnect team through its collaboration with Johannes Reponen Fashion Criticism course at the London College of Fashion. Being a member of this young team myself, I felt confident to take on the responsibility of editing the GFW 2015 coverage. Working at Modeconnect for a month prior to GFW 2015 enabled me to build up editorial experience through editing entries from Modeconnect International Fashion Writing Competition and creating content for other sections of the website. Four photographers studying with Steve Smith at the North East Scotland College ( Aberdeen) completed our creative team: Mary Moir, Alex Cryle, Debbie Martin and Anna Wytrazek. Their responsibilities included coverage of the shows, providing high quality images and collaborating with the writers to select the images for a copy. An eclectic mix of backgrounds and a shared enthusiasm for the event enabled us to create diverse and detailed coverage.
On the first day, before the review copies began to pile up ready for editing, I was fortunate to watch a few shows. The remaining days were spent in the media suite, gaining valuable insight into the industry whilst taking full advantage of the free food, tea and coffee. The rest of the team soon fell into a well-rehearsed pattern. Every two hours a new show of over 20 collections had to be reviewed. Typically the writer in charge of the catwalk review attended the show with a senior member of the Modeconnect team, Pierre Delarue or Mark Atkinson. Right after the show ended, the team debriefed together, analysing and discussing the collections and selecting which to mention. The reviewer then sat with the photographer to select the images to illustrate their article. Then the writing and editing could begin.
Fashion Critic student Nerys described her experience as “fantastic” because it “gave us a preview of … the industry”. She explained: “Just writing well is not enough, you must have some knowledge about fashion design, and what you are writing about.” Nerys also said she had expected “much more stress”, unlike fellow student Safah, who had not anticipated the work to be “so manic”. Safah felt however that this made it more exciting as “there was not one moment where we weren’t busy working, or immersed in the shows”. Safah learnt about the speed journalism works at: “you have to be quick and on the ball… there is no time to sit and think. You just have to write what you see and be prepared to edit your articles straight away.” This process requires effective management and efficiency. Photographer Anna advised us to “be focused. The runway moves very fast”. Both photographer and writer must adapt to the speed. Anna further said: “There is no time for mistakes…you have to be ready”.
Megan, an aspiring fashion writer, travelled from Australia to collaborate with Modeconnect at GFW. After flying the distance, she was ready to make the most of the week. She said ‘if you actively seek to network, meet new people, see as many shows as you can and work hard to achieve writing deadlines, it makes the 23 hours flight across the globe totally worth it!”.
For Megan, “Graduate Fashion Week was a real lesson in writing and watching with a critical eye. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the talent and sheer quantity of collections that were being shown during the week.” She explained how she was impressed by everything she saw. Megan found it easier to write about the costume and avant-garde collections, rather than the subtleties of more commercial collections. “After a few shows you start to notice trends in colour schemes and techniques that become repeated, which you can then begin to analyse differently.”
Debbie was surprised at how comfortable she was standing with photographers in the press pit, “I didn’t once feel out of place or intimated by anyone!” claiming she wouldn’t change anything about the week. “The whole experience was a learning curve for me”.
Ruyi was preoccupied with the work of the designers in relation to the industry’s competitive nature. She commented on how “so many designers were obviously talented but it’s hard to design a collection that can bring something new to the table, as well as being marketable to the public”. Immense talent was on display, yet it was those who displayed the ability to create relevant – new yet consumable – fashion that stood out for Ruyi: “those who managed this were greatly admired.”
As editor, I got to experience the whole process from start to finish. Having previously edited my own work, the experience of editing someone else’s review was eye opening. Seeing the shows through the perspective of other writers added an interesting dimension, allowing me to compare styles and idiosyncrasies. This was an experience valuable to any aspiring writer.
Before we knew it, GFW was over. We reviewed, edited and uploaded our work in a short space of time despite the immensity of coverage, all feeling proud of the work we accomplished. Nerys said it made her realise “how important experience and collaborations are”. Pierre Delarue explained: “Such collaborations are really what Modeconnect is about: providing valuable experience to fresh talent.” Mark Atkinson added: “Modeconnect is in a unique position to be able to pull together such a varied and talented team thanks to unique relationships with head of departments in major UK universities”. Megan said she would “100% recommend this experience to anyone unsure whether they wanted to pursue fashion journalism”. She added: “During the week I was encouraged to become a better writer, to raise my standard and to work hard to create the best content I could […] I know now that my goals are achievable.”
The week was tiring running between shows, writing articles and sorting out images but this made the experience all the more rewarding. It was a pleasure to work with the Modeconnect team, who provided help and guidance along the way. Unanimously, the experience inspired everyone and is definitely recommended. We shall see you all next year!
All images courtesy of Mary Moir