In early 2016, SHOWstudio editor Lou Stoppard was invited by Hywel Davies to envisage, teach and mark a special project with Central Saint Martins students. Pupils from across three pathways - fashion journalism, fashion history and theory, and fashion communication and promotion - came together to respond to Lou Stoppard's brief to pitch and create a series based around the theme of hair. The topic was inspired both by key objects on the runways - Gucci's now ubiquitous kangaroo-lined loafers, the brainchild of clutter magpie Alessandro Michele, Shane Olivier’s wig-embellished pieces for Hood by Air, and Phoebe Philio’s fuzz-lined Birkenstocks, the shoe that launched a thousand copies - and more general discussions about facial and body hair: the rise of the beard as an emblem of gentrification or hipster culture, the drives on Instagram and other social media channels to normalise visible female body hair, the Tumblr trends for dyed armpit hair, the opinion pieces arguing that it is time to stop politicising black hair. Other key outputs, from Hair: Guido, featuring photographs by David Sims and published in 2014, to the Sam McKnight exhibition, scheduled for November 2016 at Somerset House, also inspired the project.
To spark students’ imagination, Stoppard invited Shonagh Marshall, curator of the Sam McKnight exhibition, to deliver a guest lecture, while Central Saint Martins academics Judith Watt and Alistair O'Neill each offered a unique perspective on hair in fashion. The former focused on red hair and its reputation and symbolism, while the latter gave a preview of his research into the work of photographer Richard Avedon, focusing on ‘big hair.’
Eight groups of student participated, all in their second year of study. They were asked to pick a specific area or topic relating to hair and create a series featuring the type of varied content found on SHOWstudio; essays, interviews, films, illustrations, animations, for example. Isabella Mejia-Bruton, Rudi Edwards, Rachel Cohen, Madeleine Killick, Nishika Prakash and Eun Cho focus on bearded ladies. Julie Greve, Sahil Babbar, Bianca Raggi, Olivia Murphy, Jan Grochowski, Sofia Best, Ann-Marie Voina consider ‘hair gestures’. Chloe Winstanley, Sasha Beattie, Harriet James-Weed, Rebecca Burgum, Katharina Loebbert and Momo Hassan-Odukale focus on going grey. Alena Hoeldrich, Jeffrey Pangputhipong, Marc Tommy Wiesener, Natalie Chui, Carolyn Kang, Juliana Binti Mohamad Norza and Rahèl Watson look at superstitions surrounding hair. Olga Bogdanova, Andrea Andersen, Reid Calvert, Ella Sweeney, Louis Plummer and Naomi Richards explore hair’s associations with fear and horror. Lydia Chan, Bohyun Kwon, Sanjeeva Suresh, Ievan Darwin, Elly Wood, Eleanor Kirby consider different varities of ‘over-processed’ hair. Jack Ip, Archelmis Ching, Maria Matveeva, Marios Mystidis, Siuming and Michelle Sang look at rules and restrictions surrounding hair. Mila van der Linden, Amy Czarnecki, Tejvinder Sidhu, Jordan Sapiano-Lue, Lisa Bouteldja, Laura Palsova and Ryan Skelton investigate eyebrows.
A selection of the student work is displayed here, alongside input from Marshall and Watt.