In October 2019, three LASALLE students travelled to Paris for a four-day immersion programme fully hosted by Chanel and Harper’s BAZAAR. This collaboration, exclusively open to LASALLE students, aimed to inspire budding artists and designers as they visited the cornerstones of the Chanel brand in the heart of Europe’s art and fashion capital.
From an intimate tour of Gabrielle Chanel’s apartment to an up close and personal observation of craftsmanship at Chanel’s Métiers d’Art, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for BA(Hons) Fine Arts student Chok Si Xuan, BA(Hons) Fashion Media and Industries student Navin Pillay and Diploma in Fine Arts fresh grad Sarah Lin.
They were joined on this trip by the two regional winners from Harper’s Bazaar NewGen competition, Rena Kok and Zoey Zhao. Rena, a fresh graduate from LASALLE’s BA(Hons) Fashion Media and Industries, was the Singapore winner of the competition.
Navin, Si Xuan and Sarah with Rena and Zoey. Photo: Chok Si Xuan
The fashion-meets-fine-arts interdisciplinary aspect of the programme was a major draw, particularly for fine artists Si Xuan and Sarah. “I was really interested in the prospect of how fine arts could get involved in other industries in a collaborative manner,” said Si Xuan.
Echoing Si Xuan’s thoughts, Sarah reflected on her current studio practice, which delves into materials such as raffia string, tarpaulin and concrete. “As I’m currently exploring tactility and the art genre of wearable art, I believed this trip strongly resonated with what I was tinkering with and thus applied,” she said.
Navin with Harper's Bazaar Singapore Editor-in-Chief Kenneth Goh after the Chanel Spring/Summer RTW 2020 show at the Grand Palais. Photo: Navin Pillay
One highlight of the trip for all three students was the opportunity to attend the Chanel Spring/Summer 2020 show as part of Paris Fashion Week. “There, in the capital of France, I got to watch Virginie Viard's maiden Spring/Summer 2020 Collection firsthand at the Grand Palais,” Navin recalled with pride.
The group also met with fashion sensation Irene Kim and enjoyed a sneak peek of her newly launched label IRENEISGOOD, and visited the first Chanel store at 31 Rue Cambon. In Gabrielle Chanel’s house, they learned about the significance of many of her personal objects, and found out more about how the late Karl Lagerfield looked to her space for new inspiration.
Visiting the Métiers d’Art on the final day gave students a different perspective on materials and craftsmanship, illuminating the level of detail that goes into the making of an iconic brand. “We got to visit Maison Lesage and Lemarié, and saw a breakdown of the embroideries and fabric sculpting process. It was a different experience to see the works deconstructed and up close, in comparison to attending the fashion show the day before,” said Si Xuan.
Up close with materials at the Métiers d’Art. Photos: Rena Kok
The trip was an eye-opening insider glimpse into numerous different facets of fashion. For Si Xuan, one major takeaway for her fine arts practice was the use of space she observed on sets and runways. “Being known for their elaborate set designs, Chanel’s runway blew me away, with their reconceptualisation of Parisian rooftops. To be able to integrate a space, to have conceptual and creative relation to the theme reminded me that many disciplines, beyond fine arts, have different ways of considering space.”
Sarah shared: “As a student from the fine arts, I was keen to observe and learn what the world of fashion was all about. It’s still a huge world to discover but this programme allowed me to see beyond the surface. Gabrielle Chanel once said that fashion was not art and it was strictly business, but I believe that the creative mind is able to seek creative solutions to marry both worlds into one."