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There has been an arts element within the work of the British Council since when it took over the running of the British Pavilion in Venice.
This year it was presented in an exhibition at Somerset House where countries from all over the world were represented by talented designers from their native country. Each country had their own curation which included garments along with jewellery and accessories, providing a wide selection of styles.
How many different programmes, projects and initiatives make up the ADF? We work with countries across all continents of the world and in partnership with local design organisations.
For example I work with one region and in a year I'll be working on about projects this year to varying sizes. We split the world into 7 regions so that a year. This makes us less well known than other areas of the British Council, which are teaching English as a foreign language overseas and education partnerships, as well as the arts.
Most people overseas will have come into contact with us through the other education or language parts rather than Thesis skin designers.
Yes that is my experience growing up in Greece too, so it was fascinating to find out that you do all of these other things too. Could you tell me a bit more about the events around the world? These latter projects are more of a pilot at the moment to see if we can do more in business development.
So there is behind the scenes stuff as well as touring exhibitions and other projects or events that are more in the cultural realm. So what we do is a combination of cultural programmes as well as capacity building and skills development activities that are using UK expertise to increase the prosperity and development of other industries.
We do have UK international development funding within the British Council so that would tend to be focused on where the skills element side comes from. Do you work with individual designers in the partner countries? We always work with local partners, for instance, in a project we ran in Jakarta Fashion Week our local partner would select the designers and we would then work with them, so there is always an institution involved rather than us going directly to designers.
Originally in Jakarta it was a group of 30 designers and that has been renewed each year, so the end result can be work with an individual designer. Yes, what I think is different about IFS is that we are not going through are lot of the usual channels that are used for talent scouting, such as going to schools or to key influences and asking who is coming through, whereas we are going directly to the industry in the country.
I think this approach is one of the things we have really benefitted from because people appreciate the fact you are listening to who they think are the leading talents.
And you presumably give opportunities to a wider range of people as well by doing this? Exactly and it is where we are able to promote something quite fresh on the industry side.
When was the IFS first introduced and what was the idea behind it? How did the British Council and the British Fashion Council collaborate to introduce this new platform for emerging designers?
It is a public facing cultural event so it is seen a slightly different and engaging a slightly different audience. It began as a map in embassies' own venues and then across last 3 editions it's moved into a central venue.
We looked to reflect the international character of London's fashion schools and LFW schedule and chose to work with emerging designers as London is the capital of emerging talent.
We work with embassies and BC offices globally who help to identify a fashion authority in each country that put together a proposal with a selection of designers that make up the IFS advisory panel review. The difference in this model is it goes direct to local industries rather than through the same set of influencers or international fashion schools to identify designers.
We give advisory, curatorial and production support. What I like about IFS is also that it is free to the public, and the presentations are very approachable, would you agree?
Yes, well someone recently asked me if we would ever charge for it and I think that would go against the nature of it since we want it to be as inclusive as possible. What are the selection criteria and how strong is the bond of each designer you select in relation to their country of origin and cultural background?
Designers must be in their first 5 years of business. We are then looking for quality in design and often find designers who are reinventing their heritage catch the eye of the panel but the criteria we impose is mainly to the country - fashion authority, curatorial and curatorial statement, and work with emerging designers.
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