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Featured Work: Introspect


Documenting the Work of Fashion Design

UC DAAP, the University of Cincinnati’s School of Design, Art, Architecture, and Planning is shorthand for young design talent—the school has consistently been ranked among the nation’s top design schools for the past decade. While the DAAP Fashion Show has been a local mainstay since 1983, the work that goes into creating the collections shown has been a bit of a mystery. Until now.

When fashion designer, artist, stylist, and educator Chelsea Cutrell decided to promote the work of Fashion Design seniors at UC DAAP, she called on fashion and commercial photographer Tracy Doyle to help tell their story. From initial creative inspiration to final look book photos, the Introspect series shows us what really goes into creating a runway-worthy collection.

This is a pretty ambitious project! Who was the client?

It was self-initiated, but the end clients were DAAP Fashion Design and Fashion Product Strategy seniors, The Myron E. Ullman, Jr. School of Design, and the DAAP 66th Annual Fashion Show.

How did the idea for this series come about?

This project idea was conceived with the goal to document the work of DAAP Fashion Design Seniors (class of 2017) that I was teaching in the spring semester and to promote the design work of the students at DAAP Fashion Show. I wanted the students to have professional documentation of their capstone design process for portfolio use, as well as to use this photo documentary project as an educational tool for rising fashion design students and the general public.


How did you choose who to collaborate with? 

I chose to collaborate with photographer Tracy Doyle on this project, as we had discussed her interest in potentially coming to DAAP to photograph some of the seniors' design work in the spring term. Collaboration with the DAAP Fashion Show Production Team came naturally, as they needed process documentation photos to show in the printed book and digitally at the show. The editorial shoot was a collaborative effort of the DAAP Fashion Design faculty, DAAP Fashion Show Production Team, Senior Fashion Design and Product Strategy students, local stylists, Macy's (sponsor of the DAAP Fashion Show), New View modeling agency, and a great team of assistants.

Did you work with anyone to determine the creative direction, schedule, or other logistics?

Tracy and I worked closely with DAAP faculty members Ashley Kubley and Kaley Madden on the creative direction of the editorial photo shoot. We also consulted with local stylists Ericka Leighton Spradlin and Kara Wade to curate ensembles combining student pieces with those from Macy's. Tracy's shooting schedule at DAAP was based on critique dates, project milestones, and the fashion show. We also worked with the DAAP Fashion Show Production team to get the process photos and editorial photos ready for the print layout of the show's book, as well as for digital and marketing use at the show.

Creating a collection is such a long process; how much time did you have to execute everything?

We had one semester (four months) to execute the project.  At the beginning of the semester, we worked out the logistics of capturing images of students' work at key points of the term.

We started the photo documentation of the students' process work at the mid-term critique, which showed thesis concept, research, sketches, mood imagery, and fabric swatches. This was followed by the garment construction process, research and refinement process, final critiques, final exhibit for Product Strategy students, and the final fashion show for all Fashion Design students.

That sounds like a lot! How does this complement or contrast your usual projects?

This was an unusual photo project, as the teaching and process development elements are generally kept separate from styling finished garments. Previously, I’d hosted portfolio day photo shoots at my studio to help the seniors document their work, so documenting the process and the finished work as one project was a new and enjoyable venture.

What was the funniest or weirdest thing that happened during the series of shoots?

Models interacting with unique garments made by the DAAP seniors—especially the multi-arm shirts (urban, alien dancewear-inspired) made by senior Jared Cole. It was great fun for the whole team to observe!

How should people keep up with you and your work?

Via my website www.chelseacutrell.com and Instagram @chelseacutrell, as well as Tracy's website www.tracydoyle.photo and Instagram @tracydoylephotog

How should people contact you?  

Through my email address: cc(at)chelseacutrell.com

Photographer: Tracy Doyle, tracydoyle.photo
Creative Director/Producer: Chelsea Cutrell, chelseacutrell.com
Models: New View, nvmodels.com
Stylists: Ericka Leighton SpradlinKara Wade
With support from: UC DAAP and Macy's