Once again, another visual display has been completed in the windows of Anheuser-Busch Hall. For my visual merchandising class, this was the last installation assignment, which was bitter sweet. It’s a bit of a relief to know that winter break is just around the corner. That being said, I am really going to miss the work from this class. Doing hands-on projects almost every day is, in my opinion, the best way to learn. The visual merchandising tasks have really stretched my creativity. Just in the past semester, I feel like I have grown as an artist, student, and leader. A lot of group work and communication was required for this course.
The challenge for this final install was to use unconventional materials. Therefore, you will not find any fabric in the end result. Also, the display had to have a holiday aesthetic since they will be present throughout winter break. My group went with a white, gold, and silver color scheme and primarily used paper and ribbon. The background is full of paper snowflakes and snowballs. The mannequin’s dress is made out of ribbon. On the panels beside the mannequins, numerous strands of ornaments are hung. In the end, I believe we did a great job and that it looks very pretty. It definitely gets you in the holiday spirit. While it may look all pretty and sparkly, there was actually a lot of dirty work behind the scenes. I walked out of each class period with glitter in my eyes, fishing wire wrapped around my leg, glue under my nails, and push pins marks on my hands. I guess the saying “beauty is pain” is true sometimes.
Ribbon dress and shopping bags (she stands in the middle of the display)
One of the two side panels
Once again, I was provided with an amazing opportunity, thanks to the fashion merchandising department here at Fontbonne. With my Advanced Apparel Production and Evaluation class, we visited a local fashion designers’ studio. His name is A.J. Thouvenot, and he was a competitor on Project Runway a few years ago (which is the only TV show I have seen every single second of). I was fortunate enough to meet him last year when he was a guest speaker for a different class. I also assisted with dressing his models during his show at St. Louis Fashion Week in Delmar Loop this past fall.
Despite the fact that I’ve encountered A.J. a couple times already, I still learned a lot from him. He lives in an apartment complex in downtown St. Louis that is housing solely for artists. So, we got to see some of the crafts and tools used by the various residents. Then, we toured the space where he designs and constructs garments. He showed us inspiration mood boards, how he makes clothing patterns, unique printing methods, etc. A.J. also discussed some of the marketing and number-crunching work involved in running your own business. I am impressed by his knowledge and the amount of work he invests into his business. After class was formally over, I stuck around for a little bit longer so I could ask him some questions. And, I got a better look at some of the garments he has made. I felt like some of the looks were created just for me. His aesthetic is very colorful, funky, and playful just like mine.
I am always so grateful of the places I get to go and the people I get to meet, thanks to the wonderful faculty at Fontbonne. From studying abroad to exploring NYC to working backstage at Fashion Week, I feel like I’m living the life. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to A.J. and being surrounded by his creative work and outgoing personality. He is definitely an inspiration, causing me to believe that fantasies can be turned into a reality.
This is the dress, designed and constructed by A.J. Thouvenot, that I tried on at his studio.
This semester, my favorite class is Visual Merchandising and Store Planning. Most of the course is very hands-on and project based, which I think is the best way to learn. One thing that we do as a class is install various visual displays throughout the semester. These display windows and cases are located in the Anheuser Busch building, home of the fashion merchandising department. The most recent displays are each based on a different decade: 1950s, 1970s, and 1990s. My group was assigned to do the 90s one. Honestly, at first I was a little disappointed, because the 90s was my least favorite decade of the possible options provided. However, I ended up having a lot of fun with my display. And, I got to do something very different from my usual aesthetic, which was a great growing experience.
I worked with a group of four other girls. We decided to go with a 1990s punk theme. Usually it would be more like me to do a project filled with girly colors and flowers. But I am really proud of the punk display. It brought out my tough girl side (which I didn’t even know existed!). The entire back is spray painted graffiti that we painted on paper and pinned to the wall. Hanging on the sides are strands of CDs tied together. There is trash overflowing from the beat-up can and scattered on the floor, as if the setting takes place in a back street alley. Finally, there are four rebellious punk girls showcased in cool, punk, black leather outfits. The looks are completed with studded shoes and Mohawk hair styles (which are made out of tissue paper).
This display will only be showcased in Anheuser Busch for one more week (including the 50s and 70s ones). They all look great, so it’s a shame they have to come down so quick. However, there will be new ones up soon. Keep in tune to see what the Visual Merchandising class will come up with next!