Judged by Rose Forde, Stylist, Phoebe Lettice, Creative Director at Illustrated People, and Amy Bannerman, Fashion Director at Cosmopolitan, GFW18's Styling and Creative Direction award was a demanding category. India Wright, graduate of Leeds Arts University, was awarded the accolade this June for challenging gender roles for her project 'It's a boy thing'.
We caught up with the experimental creative to hear more about her time at university, pervasive ideas of masculinity, and her editorial final project that crosses cultural mediums from photography to music.
Firstly, a huge congratulations on winning at Graduate Fashion Week 2018! What award did you win?
Thank you! I won the Fashion Styling and Creative Direction Award.
How did it feel when your name was read out?
Surreal! It didn’t feel real, I couldn’t believe that I had won, it was so overwhelming and was over so quickly. I was up against such strong competition, so I was so flattered to have been chosen. It felt so rewarding after this year’s work on the project that I feel so passionate about.
Which university did you attend, and how do you think they prepared you for graduation?
I attended Leeds Arts University, they have been a great support from when I started at the university in first year. They have really guided me with my styling and creative direction, helping me push the boundaries and create a strong body of work, that I am proud to be graduating with, to take on to job interviews and have a strong platform to represent me as a creative.
Describe the inspiration and concept behind your work.
‘It’s just a boy thing’ is a publication presented in the form of collector’s vinyl box.
Containing the publication and six vinyl’s in cases designed from the editorials that all feature in the publication, inspired by 80’s song titles. ‘It’s just a boy thing’ focuses on what it means to be a man growing up in todays modern society and how image making can challenge the preconceived notions of masculinity.
Many ideas about masculinity are laughable, but they are totally pervasive in our society and can have serious consequences. In men, ‘masculine’ traits such as physical strength is celebrated, while ‘feminine’ traits such as sensitivity are vilified. As conversations around gender progress, these ideas become more and more exposed for what they are: ridiculous and outdated.
‘It’s just a boy thing’ has been created to look at these pressures faced by men to conform and assume a certain role in society that is damaging. We idealise a very primitive form of masculinity and have accepted this as the norm. Not just to society itself but to the mental health and wellbeing of the men themselves. Men of today, it is time to make a decision to adapt, evolve and move forward in to a new form of masculinity and identity. These six stories look at different stereotypes that men are expected to live up to, challenging these stereotypes created by society, while being influenced by 80’s vinyl’s to inform the art direction created within them. Each editorial story is portrayed in a different way but all holding a strong concept behind them.
What one thing would you recommend our readers do whilst at the event?
To make sure you visit the GFW live! Talk space as much as possible. They have some great talks from industry experts and it's all free included within the exhibition ticket!
What do you plan to pursue now, and where do you hope to be in five years’ time?
I am looking to move to London within the next few months and look for a job within styling and creative direction. In five years time I hope to be working strongly within a fashion brand focusing on art direction.
If you could give one piece of advice to yourself in first year, what would it be?
To make most of the facilities at university, be sure to experiment with as many things as possible in first year so you can really know what works for you.