On Wednesday 11 October, the Design and Technology department took all Fifth Form DT and all Sixth Form Textiles students on a trip to London. The Textiles students had the opportunity to visit the Balenciaga exhibition ‘Shaping Fashion’ at the Victoria and Albert Museum, an exhibition that examined the work and legacy of influential Spanish couturier Cristobal Balenciaga, viewing over 100 pieces crafted by 'the master' of couture. Students were able to watch films by his protégées and contemporary fashion designers working in the same innovative tradition, and were able to see the exceptional craft of creating fabrics with highly detailed embellishments. See below for a clip of one of these videos.
Along with this exhibition, students were able to view the V&A's vast fashion collection, spanning five centuries. Key items in the collection include rare 17th century gowns, 18th century 'mantua' dresses, 1930s evening wear, 1960s day wear and post-war couture. This was superb primary research that will go directly into all year groups coursework. The fashion history element is also a fundamental part of the A Level course, allowing students to view garments first-hand really helped them understand the fabrics, construction and overall trends within the collection.
Image of pupils above shows Tuesday Roberts and Charlotte Maddinson wearing a dress made by the creators of the exhibition. They re-created this dress in order to understand the role of ties underneath the skirt of a gown. By trying the gown on and using the ties in different ways, our students discovered that when these ties were attached around the lower legs they caused the skirt to balloon out, catching the air and creating the distinctive shape in Balenciaga’s original garments. This helped students understand that a simple addition to a garment can have a dramatic effect on an overall silhouette.
The Resistant Materials students also visited the V&A to view a unique plywood exhibition, ‘Material of the Modern World’, featuring groundbreaking pieces by Alvar Aalto, Marcel Breuer and Charles and Ray Eames. Alongside this, students were able to see an incredible range of objects from planes to skateboards, telling the story of how this often-overlooked material made the modern world. After visiting the V&A, students went to the Science Museum. With booklets provided by their teachers, students had to independently search the materials section of the museum, understanding how and where materials are used and the manufacturing processes used to form them. Students also learnt about a wide variety of materials that can be re-used and recycled, understanding the impact that this has on design and the environment.