‘As a discipline Fashion is in constant evolution’ Lionel Roudaut
LASALLE College of the Arts is a leading fashion school in Singapore. It offers a variety of arts courses including a BA (Hons) in Fashion Design & Textiles. Modeconnect interviews Lionel Roudaut, the programme leader and Emily Wills a fashion textiles lecturer at LASALLE.
LASALLE College of the Arts
LASALLE College of the Arts is a non-profit, private educational institution operating autonomously with financial support from the Singapore Ministry of Education. It was founded in 1984 by Brother Joseph McNally, a De La Salle educator who pioneered creative arts education in Singapore. A religious man respectful of other faiths Brother Joseph McNally believed the arts vital to the spiritual life.
Today, LASALLE offers a full range of diplomas and degrees in design, fine arts, film, media arts, fashion, dance, music, theatre, art therapy, Asian art histories, and arts management.
Fashion Design at LASALLE
Started in 1985, the Fashion Design programme is one of the most established programmes at LASALLE. The programme highlights fashion innovation through creative thinking, theory, and practice. Students analytical, communication, and problem-solving skills are developed so they can become articulate, meticulous, and thoughtful fashion practitioners.
With a rich cultural heritage, Asian countries such as Japan, Korea, Thailand, and Singapore have emerged as major players on the contemporary fashion stage. LASALLE fashion programmes foster the philosophy of “innovation through creative thinking”; they promote an awareness of contemporary international fashion culture, seen through the prism of Asian fashion.
The programmes focus on the creative process in the design and construction of the garment addressing physical, aesthetics, and social needs. This includes a range of traditional to contemporary approaches in developing the fashion idea from paper to object, theory to practice, and from fabric to garment.
Projects and collaborations provide a tangible application of students’ growing understandings and skills. Through these, students learn to appreciate further the great richness and diversity of their subject – and to begin to excel in it creatively.
Since 2011, the College has introduced compulsory placement learning, an initiative that provides students with opportunities to experience learning outside the classroom in real-life working environments or in approved partner institutions.
LASALLE fashion design students have previously taken part in London’s Graduate Fashion Week. LASALLE was the first arts college ever in May 2011 to grace Singapore’s prestigious fashion runway – the Audi Fashion Festival. Avant-garde evening, cocktail and casual wear designed by the Fashion programme’s final-year students turned heads in an unprecedented interactive show entitled Department Store, where models were wheeled onto the catwalk on trolleys.
Modeconnect interviews Lionel Roudaut, Programme Leader of the BA (Hons) Fashion Design & Textiles course.
What is your role at Lasalle College of the Arts?
I am programme leader for the Fashion Design & Textiles Bachelor degree course. In addition to administrative and teaching roles my job is to set the creative direction of the courses. I also organize projects and collaborations with industry partners designed to enhance our students’ creative experience. Assisted by local artisans, we investigate and revisit traditional craft techniques and in collaboration with museums and local institutions we explore aspects of Singapore’s cultural heritage.
What is your experience as a designer?
Before joining education I worked with American fashion designer Jeremy Scott. At the time his company was based in Paris; it was comparatively small and I was able to get involved with many aspects of its management. Jeremy was surfing on the limelight and the press attention was intense. Celebrities such as Kylie Minogue and Lenny Kravitz would just pop in the studio. I remember drinking a glass of milk with Bjork in the kitchen. It was surreal!
Overall I have been lucky to get involved in a variety of projects, with famous labels such as John Galliano and Marithé + François Girbaud and others more unusual.
I created the costume of opera singer Renée Fleming for a production at the Opera Bastille directed by Robert Carsen. Carsen wanted someone who could tailor Jackets in the style of the Dior’s New Look… I loved this world of the Opera.
But I also loved a completely different experience: Project Alabama! In the small city of Florence, Alabama, we designed high end t-shirt, entirely hand sewn, using recycled material. This was southern American country living. I discovered a different cultural heritage, the art of quilting and the different stitches and techniques that have been developed around this craft through the centuries.
How do these experiences help you in your current position?
Between Paris and Singapore I have taught at Esmod Tokyo and Mod’Art Shanghai. All those experiences exposed me to very different cultures; they have widened my creative horizons and given me a unique perspective.
What is Fashion for you?
As a discipline Fashion is in constant evolution; taste, practices and techniques change very quickly. Fashion is a state of mind. It has symbolic value; it is a reflection, at one point in time, of our individual and collective inner selves.
How has the teaching of Fashion at Lasalle evolved in the last few years?
We believe at LASALLE that there is no real creativity without technical support. Understanding traditional techniques is vital to create fashion. At the same time fashion is being transformed by new technologies; many new ideas are coming from their development. We have incorporated in our teaching a reflection on traditional techniques and new technology. It is very stimulating in terms of creativity.
How does this translate practically in you teaching?
We pair the practice of technical research with the creative reinterpretation of historical costume. The contrast between traditional and contemporary approaches to fashion is very exciting. Research is an important part of a fashion designer’s work and I have asked lecturers to invest time in it. It has proved very fruitful, allowing lecturers and students to discover new ways of using techniques and technologies to make garments.
Besides teaching how are you involved with Fashion today?
I have recently decided to launch my own label. It will be infused, inspired by my current tropical surroundings seen of course, through my own French sensibility.
Finally what is your advice to someone who considers studying fashion?
It helps to have a good balance between intellectual and practical skills. An interest in the arts, design and creative fields is important. But being able to analyse and see beyond the surface also makes a different. You have to have drive and a little patience.
Modeconnect Interviews Emily Wills, Fashion Textiles lecturer at LASALLE
Emily, tell us about your job at Lasalle College of the Arts.
My responsibility is to develop the Fashion Textiles pathway of the Fashion Design and Textiles BA programme. Working with lecturers across the college, I have developed a number of cross-disciplinary projects aimed at redefining what fashion is, and can be. Most recently we collaborated with an Australian University on a project titled 3 ROOMS; Object Design + the Body which asked students to reconsider fashion as a form of object using the body as a site for reflection.
What is your background?
I am originally from Australia. My background is in painting and illustration which led me to undertake studies in Fashion and Textile Design focusing on printed textiles. After graduation I worked for several Australian fashion labels and in 2005 I joined a collective retail boutique and started my own label Miyoko.
Can you explain your own approach to Fashion design?
I do not refer to myself as a fashion designer but as a creative. My research explores Fashion and Textile design through the interdisciplinary notion of Object and Surface, the cross-over between Fashion, Product, Textiles, Illustration and New Media.
I am more interested in conceptual than commercial design. I get excited by a piece of interactive textiles, the integration of technology with aesthetics, by outside of the box thinking and creative problem solving. Of course, I know that commercial design and fashion business are also important.
How does this affect your teaching?
Creativity and curiosity are the two skills most important to me and my teaching, especially in the first year of study. Technique and marketing come later. Creativity, the ability to look from new perspectives, is core.
The BA programme focuses on the creative process beyond design and construction to address physical, aesthetic and social needs within the contemporary fashion context. I believe the cross-disciplinary approach I advocate helps students to challenge their understanding of what fashion is and what it could be.
The school encourages and fosters community-based projects; I have been fortunate to work for example, with the Singapore International Foundation as a project volunteer that was facilitated by LASALLE. Engaging in community based projects enables us to move beyond aesthetics and encourage students to think about the ethical and moral impact of their design decisions.
Earlier you mention your participation in a Collective?
I have always been part of collaborative studios and projects in Australia.
When I relocated to Singapore in 2009, I established Surface 1°22, a collective of artists and designers redefining Surface Design across various disciplines of study. We have curated group and solo exhibitions such as The Manipulators, Pens and Needles and Paper Pattern Print.
Fashion Textiles is restricted to garment; moving away from clothing to consider textiles as a form of surface design that can be applied to interior, architecture and product design is of great interest to me.
I use this entrepreneurial experience to encourage students to challenge the format of fashion presentation, question the changing role of fashion in a growing conceptual age to see the benefits of collective teamwork and the benefit of start-ups.
Finally what is your advice to someone who wants to study fashion?
Prospective students should ask themselves if they are makers, or producers. Too many wish to be designers without really understanding the other jobs available in the fashion industry. Design and construction take time to master. Students choosing fashion design must be committed to mastering drafting, draping and construction.
For more information please visit the LASALLE website.