For their third collection, DANSHAN designers and Central Saint Martins’ graduates, Dan and Shan (see what they did there?) dug deep into the origins of where our ideas towards gender are initially constructed. Set within a classroom in Kings College London, the young designers used both their newest Spring/Summer '18 pieces and the space that enveloped them to reflect the belief that ideologies of masculinity and gender are created at school.
To truly immerse us within that textbook educational atmosphere, models stood nonchalantly amongst televisions, white boards, chairs and desks – inviting spectators too to pull up a seat and get back to work. Projected onto the whiteboard came the message “Learning with Danshan” as the design duo sought to educate us in both mind and body, actively inviting us to explore the fluidity of gender the collection creates, whilst unraveling the dominance the education system has over the growth of expression.
By adapting the conventional school uniform of a blazer, bottoms and school shoes - courtesy of their sponsor, Kickers, known to the majority of the British public as the go-to ‘back to school’ shoe) - DANSHAN were able to convey a sense of unity through individuality. The unexpected bubble wrap trouser paired with a navy blue blazer spoke of breaking that ingrained mold of the expected - as well as reminiscing of every child's obsession when it came to popping the bloody stuff. Elsewhere, high-shine metallic jackets pair with white and light blue shirt, merging the professionalism of the uniformed cotton with a more casual approach for a contemporary juxtaposition.
Colour remained warm throughout, with neutrals, varsity blues and burgundy tones occasionally interrupted with flashes of break-away colour. Paired with the soft expressions of the models, flashing the occasional school boy grin, constructs a welcoming yet intriguing feel.
The projected message, “Danshan know that vulnerability is strength”, outlines the motivation behind the collection and the narrative it portrays. The location and ambient sounds left us with a lasting question on whether the education system is progressive or regressive for personal development. School may be a distant memory for most of us, but there's still a lot more left to learn.
Words: Habi Diallo | Fashion Week Press |
Images: Tegan Rush | Fashion Week Photographer | @Tegan.photography