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Couture Academy Exhibition : a curation of the story behind a couture design

By Jane Morley, Dean Brough and Kay McMahon


Research background:\ud The general public is predominantly unaware of the complexities and skills involved in the fashion supply chain (design, manufacture and retail) of couture/bespoke garments. As cited in McMahon and Morley (2011) “While a high price tag is widely accepted as a necessary element of luxury products (Fionda &Moore, 2009) this must be accompanied by a story that gives the items intrinsic as well as extrinsic value (Keller, 2009). \ud \ud Research question: \ud Is it possible to simulate a fashion couture studio environment in a non-traditional public space in order to produce and promote the processes involved in couture designs; each with their own story and aligned to the aesthetic of six collaborating high profile couture fashion retailers?\ud \ud Research contribution:\ud The Couture Academy project allowed the team to curate the story behind the couture design and supply chain process. It was an experimental, curated, ‘hot-house’ fashion design project undertaken in real time to create one-off couture garments, inspired by key seasonal fashion trends as determined by leading Westfield retailers. The project was industry based, with Westfield Chermside as the launch pad for six QUT fashion students to experiment with design nuances aligned to renowned national fashion industry retailers; Cue, Dissh, Kitten D'Amour, Mombasa and Pink Mint. Industry mentors were assigned to each student designer, in order to heighten the design challenge. \ud \ud The exhibition consisted of a pop-up couture workshop based at Westfield Chermside. A complete fashion studio (sewing machines, pattern-cutting tables and mannequins) was set up for a seven day period in the foyer of the shopping centre with the public watching as the design process unfolded in real-time. The final design outcomes were paraded at the Southbank Precinct to a prominent industry and media panel, with the winner receiving a $2000 prize to fund a research trip to an international fashion capital of their choice. \ud \ud Research significance:\ud This curated fashion project was funded by Westfield Group Australia. "It was the most successful season launch Westfield Chermside has ever had from both an average volume for exposure perspective, and in terms of the level of engagement with retailers and shoppers," said Laura Walls, Westfield Public Relations Consultant. Significant media coverage was generated; including three full pages of editorial in Brisbane’s Sunday Mail, with an estimated publicity value of $95,000. And public exposure through the live project/exhibition was estimated at 7,000 people over the 7 days.\u

Topics: couture fashion, simulated design studio model, couture supply chain logistics, couture/bespoke fashion exhibition, fashion retail collaboration, fashion couture mentoring
Year: 2012
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