The Koons Collaborative Fashion Show
Today we welcome local blogger and designer Kate Cooper to the Norwich Fashion blog. Kate wowed us during fashion week 2015 with her entry to the Intu Chapelfield Competition which won her a trip to New York so we’ve invited her to become an NFW blogger and her first article not only reviews an exciting fashion event but also introduces you to some emerging designers you might want to add to your ‘ones to watch’ list –
On Saturday 27th June, a group of eleven young creatives branding themselves the ‘Koons Collaborative’ hosted a fashion show with a difference; the main difference being that it took place in a 900-year-old castle…
A castle, no less, which until September 6th this year is host to the work of the world’s most expensive (and many might argue, controversial) living artist: Jeff Koons. Since January 2015, the collaborative members, all from Norwich schools and universities, have been working to produce events and immersive experiences inspired by the themes in Koons’ work. Koons Couture, as it was aptly named, was part of this ongoing process and was programmed as part of the Young Norfolk Arts Festival.
The show comprised work from four young designers, aged 15-21, who each took inspiration from Koons and from the museum’s own collections of Rococo objects and clothing. Think Marie Antoinette meets giant inflatable poodle. This was going to be good…
The event began in the Castle Keep. Two living statues took their seats in the mock throne room, gazing upon the crowd, newly adorned with #Koons tote bags, as we gathered in anticipation.
After an introductory speech, the show had begun. The four outfits were prefaced by a group of City College dancers with blue 1960s bobs, who carried out their routine to the strains of Lady Gaga. Gaga was a deliberate choice: in her lyrics to ‘Applause’ she sings ‘One second I’m a Koons, then suddenly the Koons is me…’
We followed the dancers and models through the castle keep and into different gallery spaces, stopping for photo opportunities and to hear more about the work of the Koons Collaborative.
My personal highlight, due to the fact that hot beverages are practically a religion for me, was the Twinings Teapot gallery. The flamboyant Rococo-Koons creations seemed perfectly at home beside the largest collection of British ceramic teapots in the world…
Cushla Greeves proves she’s an equally talented model as she is designer
We finished in the gallery that held the Koons exhibition itself, where we heard from the young designers about their work.
Sophia Fletcher is currently studying for her A-levels, and told me that she wants to go on to study at London College of Fashion. She has adapted a vintage dress with free-hand embroidery, applique, and daringly-positioned flowers. I always love it when designers upcycle unwanted pieces to give them a new lease of life and I’d say Sophia should follow her fashion dreams all the way to London! Go girl!
Jess Girling really impressed me. At only 16 years old she has been ‘making clothes for years…’ (at 16 I had just about mastered the art of cross stitch…) Her outfit drew from several of Koons pieces both thematically and stylistically, referencing his large glass flowers sculpture with embroidery on the front of the skirt. Jess also integrated 3D elements into her design, with a very playful, giant, heart-shaped bodice. I’d say Lady Gaga could be sporting this in her next video, easy…
I met Kirstie Aylen, a Fine Art student at Norwich University of the Arts, over a cup of tea after the show (definitely a girl after my own heart). Her work really showed us how clothes are art that we can wear. She described Koons Couture as: ‘an amazing chance to explore and branch into something new, giving me a chance to experiment…’
That’s what fashion’s all about, folks!
I loved every outfit I saw as part of Koons Couture, but I have to say that Cushla Greeves absolutely blew me away. At only 15 years old, the youngest of the four designers showing, she currently makes all of her own clothes and is hoping to use Koons Couture as a platform to start her own clothing line. Cushla’s outfit was created entirely from handcrafted paper, which she moulded, stitched through and even pressed real flowers into to create something really unique and experimental. This is definitely only the beginning for this talented young woman!
All of the young people involved in making Koons Couture such a huge success are a shining example of young people in Norwich harnessing their creativity, learning new skills, stepping out and going for it! This is what fashion is all about for me, and this is why I’m so excited for the next chapter!
Catch you on the flipside, folks- I’ll be the one in the paper dress, with the #Koons tote, of course…
‘I’m Kate. I work in a museum and I studied Fashion at university. I like drinking hot beverages, eating all the foods, buying clothes from charity shops and looking at art. I like doing all of these things in Norwich, where I live with a ginger, bearded man, who is quite nice actually, and a vast collection of mugs.’