In 2015 London College of Fashion introduced the Collaborative Unit for MA students across 17 subject areas. The unit is designed to provide an opportunity to innovate, explore developmental processes and to engage with collaborative working practices. Students are encouraged to engage in the professional negotiation and networking skills that they will need in order to be successful in the cultural and creative industries. The emphasis of this unit is on student-led collaboration – with students on other courses via an exchange, or with industry via sponsored projects.

Satin Cathedral Bra With Celluloid Boning By Rita Ro, c. 1930s
The Underpinnings Museum shot by Tigz Rice Studios 2017

This seemed like it could be of interest to The Underpinnings Museum so, in September last year, Karolina and I met with the Collaborative Unit Coordinator to discuss how involvement in the unit might work for us, and to start coming up with a brief for the students. In October, Karolina presented the this brief to the entire MA cohort for 2016/17 (there’s a lot of them!) and we waited to see who would show an interest in working with our beautiful collections. We were looking for creative technical, curatorial, editorial and entrepreneurial ideas, and there were 3 separate-but-linked projects for students to choose from:

One of the objects that was explored in detail as part of Project A:
Spiral Stitch ‘Floating Action’ bra by Exquisite Form
The Underpinnings Museum shot by Tigz Rice Studios 2017

Project A (the technical one): Students will each select an archive piece for study and will develop an analytical study of the cut and construction. Specification drawing and construction methods will be produced and students will create an initial manual draft of the pattern, followed by a digital copy and a toile. This work will be contextualised with textile, component and industrial references.

Project B (the curatorial one): This group will undertake object analysis of pieces from a selection offered by the museum, and contextualise further around set themes, creating broader background stories and advising on the definitive pieces for selection for an exhibition. Students will design a small exhibition and investigate other related outputs.

Project C (the business one): This group will propose ideas for growing and and promoting the digital museum. Researching the themes covered by the museum, they will identify potentially interested parties who might access the archive, and develop themed features for press interest. Pop-up events and social media strategies may also be pursued.

A glimpse into the exhibition curated by Group B, which can be viewed at the John Princes Street LCF campus until 10th July 2017.
Polaroid by Karolina Laskowska

We were delighted when 12 students signed up for the projects, from across 4 MA courses – MA Pattern and Garment Technology, MA Fashion Curation, MA Fashion Media Production and MA Fashion Journalism – and they began working on their projects in February this year. Karolina has been on hand for consultations with each of the groups for the last four months and the students handed in their projects at the end of May.

The students presented their reconstructed garments, research and ideas to us last week and we were thrilled to see some very exciting outcomes from all their hard work! We are looking forward to being able to share some of these with you very soon, so keep an eye on our Instagram account and Facebook page for further updates.