Evolution // Revolution – The concept behind DUCFS 2018

Palatinate talks to the Creative and Fashion teams of DUCFS about Instagram talent spotting, the link between Fashion and Politics, and potential pyrotechnics…

By Anna Gibbs

We’ve seen the unnervingly symmetrical DUCFS models all over our Facebook feeds, but what about the most crucial aspects of the show – the designers behind the clothes they’ll be wearing, and the various creative ways in which these are being, and will be communicated to us next month? Palatinate Fashion cheekily picked the brains of the people responsible for the so far remarkably consistent and high-powered aesthetic of this year’s show to learn more about the designers, influences and numbers behind the highly anticipated affair.


What is the creative vision for DUCFS 2018?

Hannah Debson, Creative Director: This years creative vision is focused on processes of change, and how modernity has been shaped. Starting with the organic, gentle evolution of society, our journey travels through to the sharp ruptures of technological and political revolution that shape our present.

What was the original external visual inspiration behind the theme e.g. from culture, celebrities, trendsetters, brand and Fashion week collections?

Bryon Duff, Creative Vice President: 2017 saw huge global economic, political, social and environmental changes come about. Events like the Manchester arena bombing have shown that the threat of terrorism has continues to grow both close to home and worldwide. Similar forms of violence have taken the globe by surprise, most notably with the Cleveland, Fort Lauderdale and of course the Las Vegas shootings, the latter during which sixty people were shot and three hundred injured.

Trump along with other parallel populist movements in the west have only further brought into question as to whether our world is falling into a state of moral decay. This has been a huge source of inspiration for the final section of the show in which the clothes become more urban and far less natural in their form or shape. We saw this significant political and social transformation as a huge source of inspiration for the kind of aesthetic we wanted for the final part of the show and campaign. We hope that every aspect, including the music, lighting, media-wall, choreography, and of course the exhibited clothing, produces within you some form of reflection on and reaction to the constantly changing times that we live in.

Whether these are fears concerning the moral or environmental future of our world or hopes of a solution to this decay, we saw the show and campaign as an opportunity to demonstrate the way that fashion, and more broadly creativity, can be used as both an enlightening progressive voice which forces us to question our destiny, as well as a revolutionary voice urging us to act. In fact, Karl Largerfield’s 2014 show was itself a performance of protest, in which the industry’s highest paid models held signs with feminist slogans such as ‘history is her story’, ‘make fashion not war’ and ‘be different’.

The incredible launching of a spaceship in the middle of the Fall 2017 Chanel show is an example of how fashion can offer such solu

tions. With necklines that resembled those of space-suits and cap-toe glitter boots, perhaps Chanel was offering too a wardrobe solution to the idea that we may in the future have to abandon this overly exploited earth. Furthermore, the Chanel show pushed boundaries in a way that no one could have expected. This is something that inspired us from the very beginning of the campaign planning process, with the ‘Avant-Guard’ and having been the focus of Iona, Alasdair and my original exec applications. In fact, pushing boundaries has most likely been the single most idea in common that each step of our creative social media campaign have. For example, the Cruzado shoot featured structured almost dystopian or matrix-esque patterns in vivid blues and black. Using mirrors to distort the body, giving more complex shapes and angles, as well as making the distinction between reality and its reflection more difficult.

Can you tell Palatinate Fashion a bit more about the designers behind the collections of this year’s show? How did you discover the designers and source designs? What were you looking for in the chosen designers?

Flora Stafford, Fashion Director: This year we have a record breaking 23 designers/brands on board, ranging from fashion graduates to huge names, with all of them showcasing incredibly unique and varied designs.
Amongst these I do have a few favourites though! The Australian brand Dyspnea (@dyspnea_) has been my favourite brand for three years now so having them on board is incredibly surreal for me, and I also adore Dora Larsen (@doralarsenlingerie), one of our lingerie brands. We discovered most of our brands through Instagram, Arts Thread and Not Just A Label, and then direct messaged or emailed to discuss the opportunity. We wanted to be able to showcase the work of graduates not only because their designs are often the most visually striking on the catwalk, but because some of them encapsulate our creative vision incredibly accurately.

All aspects of the show should produce within you some form of reflection upon and reaction to the constantly changing times that we live in. For example, Alice Jane Potter, who featured in our preliminary photoshoot, embodies the ‘Fluidity’ section of our show unbelievably well and even helped to develop our vision. However we wanted there to be an accessible dimension to the show, so we have also chosen brands that we think our audience will actually be interested in purchasing from: Native Youth, Tommy Hilfiger and ASOS just to name a few.

Who are the key stylists behind your photo shoots and who are your graphic designers?

Flora Stafford, Fashion Director: This year we have a record breaking 23 designers/brands on board, ranging from fashion graduates to huge names, with all of them showcasing incredibly unique and varied designs.
Amongst these I do have a few favourites though! The Australian brand Dyspnea (@dyspnea_) has been my favourite brand for three years now so having them on board is incredibly surreal for me, and I also adore Dora Larsen (@doralarsenlingerie), one of our lingerie brands. We discovered most of our brands through Instagram, Arts Thread and Not Just A Label, and then direct messaged or emailed to discuss the opportunity. We wanted to be able to showcase the work of graduates not only because their designs are often the most visually striking on the catwalk, but because some of them encapsulate our creative vision incredibly accurately.
All aspects of the show should produce within you some form of reflection upon and reaction to the constantly changing times that we live in. For example, Alice Jane Potter, who featured in our preliminary photo shoot, embodies the ‘Fluidity’ section of our show unbelievably well and even helped to develop our vision. However we wanted there to be an accessible dimension to the show, so we have also chosen brands that we think our audience will actually be interested in purchasing from: Native Youth, Tommy Hilfiger and ASOS just to name a few.

How will DUCFS diversify itself from previous years?

Iona Cameron, President: Every year DUCFS gets bigger and better, and 2018 is certainly following this trend. Our big focus this year was to focus on DUCFS as a brand, and focus on the run up to the show as much as the show itself.
For example, we’ve re-vamped our Instagram; shot more photo shoots and video shoots than the entire history of DUCFS put together; launched a new club night and put a far greater focus on marketing and PR. In terms of the night itself, we have been far bolder with our brands than last year, some of which are international fashion houses. We are also focusing on making the show itself more of a spectacle; with the video wall, brand new drinks reception, pyrotechnics, musicians and live performances during the walks (I don’t
want to give too much away!)


How many people are behind the creative and fashion divisions of the exec?

Bryony Duff, Creative Vice President: There are 19 of us working on DUCFS this year – the biggest exec in 35 years! In terms of the core Creative team, there’s three of us: Alasdair Harris, and Hannah Debson and myself, and then Flora Stafford and Jemima Bunbury make up the Fashion team. Iona also oversees both these teams with the help of Luciana. However, there’s also a lot of overlap and collaboration with different divisions in the exec. For example, you could say that the events or PR & Marketing teams have a lot of creative input too. Shoutout to Rachael Currie and Tara Mckenna (Events team), Jacqueline Baker (Head of PR & Marketing) and Hannah Fisayo (Instagram guru)!


What’s the process you go through when arranging photo shoots and locations?

Hannah Debson, Creative Director: First and foremost, we look at the clothes and decide on the message we want to convey. We then make mood boards for each idea that we have and discuss it amongst the creative and fashion teams. Once we settle on an idea we go through location scouting and model selection, decide on hair and make up and coordinate logistics. The concept is the most important thing, and then everything is arranged around that!

Do you think any of your team will pursue the fashion or creative direction world’s further after graduating from Durham?

Iona Cameron, President: Doing DUCFS has definitely taught me I don’t want to sell my soul to the corporate world. I reckon I’ll definitely go into a more creative industry like marketing communications or advertising (grad job permitting… )

Jemima Bunbury, Fashion Director: I have always known that I would like to end up working in a creative industry in some way, however whether that be film, fashion, art, or any of the many other industries I’m still not sure! I think what being a part of DUCFS has made me realise though, is that even if there is some personal gain involved in taking up a job or committee position, what really makes it feel worthwhile in the end is the fact that you’re helping further an important cause. This is something I would love to make sure I continue to do in whatever job I end up doing.

Bryony Duff (Creative Vice President): In agreement with Iona, being part of the committee has made me realise that business, finance and the city is not the only option. I have gained skills in graphic and website design, video-editing, production, creative direction as well as the ins and outs of what goes in behind-the-scenes (inc. tech) to run a show. All of this has given me a small but exciting insight into other career options.

Who are your favourite designers and sources of inspiration?

 Iona Cameron: Loads of my inspiration comes from visiting exhibitions and galleries, GFW insta, sites like i-D vice and events like the Met Gala.

Flora Stafford: Adwoa Aboah, Erika Bowes, @coco_pinkprincess, @stylemefresh, Noctis Magazine, Giambattista Valli, Valentino, Molly Goddard and Margaret Howell.

Bryony Duff: Most of my inspiration comes from art, pattern and colour, hence the theme this year has hopefully had a bit more of an arty aesthetic. Definitely Awoa Aboah, Ed little.

And finally, what is the inspiration behind the DUCFS 2018 instagram account?

Hannah Fisayo, Social Media Director: This year we really wanted the Instagram to match the creativity and aesthetic that is usually only seen and appreciated on the nights of the show itself. In keeping with our theme, the instagram aimed to explore the more revolutionary side of things. From our use of old receipt scans to backgrounds layered with texts on the link between politics and fashion- each post was created to add to the narrative of the journey you’ll see during the show itself. We took inspiration from an array of places, from old film photographers to streetwear brands, and it really helped having so many high quality photoshoots to get content from.

Photography and Creative direction: Alasdair Harriss, Hannah Debson and Bryony Duff
Styling and Fashion direction: Flora Stafford and Jemima Bunbury

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