Shatin, Hong Kong
The Fashion Studio
Summer College 2014
Hi. I'm Grace from halfway around the world, in Hong Kong (SAR, China). I was adopted as a baby from a small province in China, and I lived in Philadelphia until my family moved to Hong Kong when I was three. I am a rising senior at an international school in Hong Kong where my electives are visual, fine and digital art. I'm also the student editor of our school's yearbook, and in my free time I enjoy graphic design and photography (and binge watching 'Project Runway.')
I will attend The Fashion Studio course to get an idea of what studying fashion might be like in college. I've always been fascinated with fashion from my first Barbie to designing my own collection for a school charity fashion show. I can't wait to meet new people this summer, and grow together as designers with others in my program.
This first week has flown by so fast. I absolutely love my class, The Fashion Studio, and all of the friends I've met so far. My class only has around 20 people so we've been able to get to know each other and work together on lots of projects. The campus is a lot larger than I had imagined it, but I've managed to get around. From my dorm (Mary Donlon) to the Human Ecology Building (where my class is), we pass the Balch Arch, through beautiful greenery (we don't have a whole lot of green in Hong Kong), and over the Bebe Lake waterfall bridge, making the walk much more enjoyable. The campus is so beautiful, and we've been lucky enough to have several perfect days of sunny blue skies with cool breezes.
On check-in day, everything was pretty chaotic with trips to Target, unpacking, and finding my way to orientation etc. We also had an ice-cream social, on the first night, where I got to meet lots of people and make some new friends while doing one of my favorite things: eating ice-cream.
On the first day of class, we had a collage project, which led to some really great class discussions, not only about fashion, but also social and global issues. In the afternoon, we were introduced to an amazing website, which is a huge resource of all things fashion. I also attended my very first yoga class, and it was so cool. The exercises really relaxed my body and life felt like bliss. Later that night we had a floor bonding experience playing games and competing against other floors all over the central quad.
The second day of class was Photoshop basics, which helped me brush up on my graphic design skills and help others who were struggling. We also got our first project in pairs: the trend report. My partner and I reported the history, concept, and appeal of the tropical print through a visual presentation and a short essay. Later in the afternoon, the weather coaxed me outside and I sat on a picnic bench near my dorm and painted in my sketchbook just soaking in nature. Wednesday was mainly a workday for us our trend reports and a basic review on the elements and principles of design. Having never done a trend report before, it was really interesting to create on and also get a chance to hear from other pairs on their trends.
Thursday morning was dedicated to free work time and sketching while my professor met with us one on one to discuss any questions we had about our work/portfolios. In the afternoon, we got the chance to take a tour of Cornell's Johnson Museum and test our knowledge of the elements and principles of design by noting excellent examples. The museum has such as amazing collection of work, my favorite being the top floor filled with the Asian artifacts and art and its panoramic view of the campus. Throughout the week, we had required readings and an online discussion that focused on what creativity means and can everyone be creative? And whether or not cultural appropriation was okay or if it was copying and even what the difference between coping and appropriating a design was. Being able to have conversations that reference fashion, but aren't solely based around it allowed us to exchange opinions on deeper topics.
Luckily, we have Friday's off to spend working on whatever needs to get done. I spent the day sketching and exploring Collegetown and the Commons with my friends. We hopped on the bus down to C-town and grabbed a pizza at The Nines before hiking down to the Commons. The Commons has this fantastic, relaxed vibe and we spent a couple of hours wandering around the boutiques, thrift shops, and bohemian trinket stores. That night, the RCA's and the program organizers held a Hawaiian themed party, which was an absolute blast. At the end of the night, my feet were so sore from dancing with friends, but it was all worth it.
Over the weekend, my friends and I went to Ithaca Mall and enjoyed hanging out and spending time getting to know each other better. We also worked on our next assignment, the mood board, which would act as inspiration for our final portfolio, but you'll hear about that more later. This week has been an amazing start to a great experience, and I can't wait for the rest of it.
I can't believe I'm already two-thirds done with my course.
This week, we had the super awesome experience of getting our bodies scanned with Cornell's scanner. I was able to get a copy of my scan that shows a 360-degree view of my body, which is super cool! The whole experience was really interesting because we were able to see how the body scanner is used in Cornell students' research projects and the more technical side of fashion. This past week we also had some interesting guest speakers such as Professor Huiju Park, Eric Beaudette, Corinne Tsai and several more. We were able to get really helpful insight on how to prepare our portfolios for college applications as well as what studying fashion in college might be like.
The mood board and story board assignments this past week were the starting and process points for our final collection in our portfolio. The mood board is basically a page full of inspiring images that include random objects and fashion sketches, which help determine our theme for our collections. The storyboard was the next step in the process, which is a sample of what our whole collection will look like overall including things like the shape of our designs, and the colors and the fabric swatches we intend to use. We also had a lot of independent research and work time this week, which was really helpful in order for us to be able to organize our ideas and get a more concrete idea of what our final collection will look like. We will continue to work on our collections until mid-next week and then have our final exhibition on Friday, August 1st.
During my last days of Summer College at Cornell, I felt a rush of excitement and nervousness all at the same time. The final "exam" for my fashion course was actually an exhibition of my final portfolio from the course. Compared to courses such as the sciences, English, or other more traditionally academic classes, some might say my class had the easy way out with no written exam. However, I believe our final required just as much time and effort just funneled into a different creative presentation. Building up a portfolio, with the possibility of sending it as prospective students during college application time, was not an easy task, especially with the time constraint of three weeks compared to a regular one semester course. We had to design a minimum of eight pieces revolving around a common theme, while keeping in mind the elements and principles of design. Attached to this entry are photographs of my collection.
Over the duration of the course, I was so grateful that my previous training in design and studio art during high school had prepared me to really succeed and excel in the course. Some other students were not as well acquainted with certain basics of design and programs such as Photoshop, which I believe gave me an advantage. This meant I could also spend my time helping my classmates who were struggling to grasp the concepts. Although the program did not challenge me as much as I had expected, it gave me a good sense of what studying fashion design in college might be like.
Contrary to what some students might think when applying to this summer fashion course, we did not spend anytime learning how to sew or construct garments. We mainly focused on the design aspect through drawing and Photoshop. The one project we did get to construct in was the Tyvek challenge. This challenge was probably the most exciting part of the course. We were given plain coverall-type jumpsuits made out of this difficult material called Tyvek. The assignment was to take this ill-fitting onesie and turn it into a fashionable garment with duct tape as our only other material. Being able to create something that you could see and touch on a dress form was such a valuable experience.
Overall, this summer course has given me a good idea of what to expect when attending college next fall. The main takeaway I got from the Summer College experience was more social than academic. I was able to get used to the idea of having a roommate, stepping out of my comfort zone to meet new people, and forming tight relationships with those new friends. This summer course was something that has definitely given me a sneak peak into college life and I'm so glad I had the privilege to experience it.