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The First Show

7 October, 2013

Joana Poulastrou design / Escola Felicidad Duce Moda

Most designers face their first fashion show as students. Fashion schools prepare them to learn how to handle these events, which are a significant part of the business.

In fashion, as in many other things in life, there is also a first time. In this case, we are talking about a first fashion show. The majority of design students prepare and put on their first show while still at school.

“A show is a student’s first chance to get into industry; it is a platform that lets all the sector businesses see their talent,” says director of the Felicidad Duce Design School, Sílvia Viudas.

Student shows play “a very clear role in helping students understand right from the start that their designs are things that people wear,” says the general manager of the ESDi  Foundation (FUNDIT), Antoni Garrell.

“They don’t just play an academic role in student education – they also transmit values and act as a tool of communication,” Garrell says.


Joana Poulaustrou finished her design studies at the Felicidad Duce school this year. Her work, entitled Set the Cuckoo Free, won the award for the best collection in the final-project show held in July.

The event featured 33 final projects by the class of 2012/2013.

“These shows are the fastest way to promote your work. Most designers who have just finished school have nothing to show for themselves. After all your hard work and dreams, it’s great to have something that makes you feel it was worth it. Being able to showcase your designs on a runway lets the public see your work in just a few minutes…and you never know what might happen then,” Poulaustrou explains.

Teachers, directors and students all speak of the huge investment in time and effort that goes into a student creating a collection to show for the first time.

“The final-project show takes place at the end of fourth year. Right from the start, students focus on subjects that will help them conceive, plan and develop fashion projects. By the time they get to fourth year, they have achieved the optimal level of specialisation and professionalism to undertake a final project. It involves making eight different looks and is a self-directed, individual project which each student must take on under the supervision of a tutor,” explains the director of the Felicidad Duce Design School.

“I think it was worth it,” smiles Joana Poulaustrou. The young designer has reason to be cheerful. A few weeks ago she moved to London to undertake work experience in the firm of Aitor Throup, “a designer whose work I admire” and which she says will provide her with “fantastic professional experience”.

Poulaustrou’s new career path is very closely linked to her final-project show. When she picked up the award for best collection, which will allow her to do a Masters at the Felicidad Duce school, she was also chosen as an emerging talent to show at ModaFAD: “I was selected to take part in the T Project and had the chance to work with one of the most important platforms in Barcelona, 080”. Each season ModaFAD organises a show for emerging designers as part of 080 Barcelona Fashion. “The goal is to encourage and publicise experimental fashion,” she explains.

And Poulaustrou’s plans don’t stop there. The springboard that her final-project show proved to be also made it possible for one of her designs to be put on exhibition at the DHub de Barcelona building until November.

The market

“Shows are a huge platform both for designers and the textile and sewing industry behind them. It could be argued that a large part of the reason why our textile industry has been so important is because of the designers and the good shows that have been run,” says Antoni Garrell from FUNDIT.

His school puts on shows for first, second and third-year students. “The reason is so they can get used to seeing the pieces they design in volume and movement and gain experience in facing critics and the public.” Garrell says a piece of clothing takes on more meaning depending on how a show is styled. “The runway can also be used to learn about styling”.

The common purpose behind all student shows is to help graduates get a foot in the door of the labour market. The schools take the chance to invite the people in charge at major design firms.  “We also invite head-hunters from across Spain and other European countries to our Degree Show,” says Garrell.

With regard to the outcome of the shows, Sílvia Viudas stresses the importance of the visual material generated and which can be used to further promote the students’ work once the show has ended. “The students get a video of their show, which is the best way to promote their final-project work. We also give them a catalogue that functions as their calling card as it features shots of all their different styles”.

Like ESDI and Felicidad Duce, many other fashion schools in Barcelona also organise shows for their graduating students each year. Last year these schools included IED Barcelona, Elisava and Idep Barcelona among others. A student from the disseny BAU school, Guillem Rodríguez, won the ModFad Fashion Awards at 080 Barcelona Fashion after being chosen from among 21 finalists and nine design schools across the city.

A new school year has now begun and final-year students at fashion schools have an extremely important date already marked in their diaries: their final-project fashion show.

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