By Dayana Soroko, Second year, English
The Croft Magazine // Meet Elsa, FUZE’s Fashion Director: How ‘Utopia’ was birthed in the dystopia we live in.
Being Bristol University’s largest society, FUZE fashion show is a combination of fashion, art, dance and music, each year embracing a new theme and charity. As we approach the annual FUZE show (now being held in June), we are anticipating FUZE’s largest model cast yet!
Elsa managed to take some time out of her busy schedule to have a chat with me about all things FUZE and fashion over Zoom, revealing her inspiration behind this year’s ‘Utopia’ theme and all about her favourite brands that she is working with.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m Elsa, a second year History student, I am currently locked down in my room in Bristol surrounded by lots of dead plants, but I am trying to revive them! Growing up I had always wanted to be a hairdresser or go to drama school but my dad wasn’t happy about that, so instead I do History now. I am lucky enough to love my course, as some people don’t like their course as much as they'd originally hoped to - I’m living my best life, I love it! Home for me is Windsor, but I don’t go back there often since I mostly live in Bristol full time.
What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion is a form of therapy and an art form for me; it's a really important way of expressing yourself, not necessarily for other people, but for yourself. When I feel a certain type of way, it translates into my clothes. I wouldn’t say I have a specific style because how I feel changes every day - some days I mean business wearing a turtleneck and a suit, other days I will be in black, dramatic eyeliner with bright orange hair. It is about validating being able to express different sides of myself. Furthermore, I come from a low-income background and am the middle child of six siblings, and as a result, I would wear hand-me-down clothes, which limited my ability to express myself through my own choice of clothes. Now that I am financially independent, I am able to practise self-love through purchasing clothes I have picked out.
When you were younger, how did your interest in fashion manifest?
Obviously when you’re young you are placed into a gender binary, and consequently that dictates the clothes you wear. I never really got into gendered clothes, I used to wear corduroy trousers and plaid shirts which other kids would comment on saying I ‘dress funny’ or 'like a boy’ - especially when I had short hair. Despite this, I have started leaning towards more ‘feminine’ fashions and the art form behind ‘girly’ colours like pink and dresses. It is interesting because it does coincide with me breaking down the internalised misogyny.
What has influenced your style?
I have taken inspiration from different eras, rather than individuals. For example, the 60s Mod look is absolutely iconic, both menswear and womenswear. I also love the Georgian era with square neck corsets, and of course 90s fashion.
How do you make the fashion aspect of FUZE happen?
Since I stepped into my role, it has been a rollercoaster, especially in a COVID world. My main role is to find brands to present their collections in the show, cast and dress the models, and direct the creative vision of the show. I loved the idea of creating a microcosm of society, a ‘Utopia’ where the audience can escape for one night from the dystopian world we currently live in. My committed fashion team members have been smashing it this year and have been amazing despite the numerous lockdowns. We managed to form a beautiful cast of 101 models this year - our largest model cast yet! We then dress the models and assign them to brands. This year we've tried to revive the creative industry by networking with other creatives, rather than being a one-off show. The creative industry is at risk, and we want to connect creatives and open up opportunities to work together to create one big FUZE family.
How has your own style influenced the pieces?
I’m a big fan of statement, avant-garde and high fashion pieces. I don’t get to wear that kind of stuff in my day-to-day life, so I will be living through the models during the show! We have taken lots of inspiration from black and Hispanic queer spaces in the 1980s since they completely paved the way for fashion and culture. We wanted to respectfully appreciate this whilst also celebrating it. We have also taken inspiration from the documentary ‘Paris is Burning’. This influence can be seen in some of the colour schemes, music, and of course, fashion in the show.
What is your favourite outfit in the show?
I don’t have a favourite outfit, just because they are all so unique and amazing - it is difficult to choose! But, I have a couple of favourite brands that we are working with:
Hannah Eleri Russell - her aesthetic matches the FUZE 2021 Utopia theme. Her work is a celebration of club life from her hometown in Wales.
Klone Klone - high fashion unique looks starting from size 2XL and are then altered down to specific measurements. This is great as often plus-sized fashion is so overlooked, sometimes leaving unexciting choices.
BECCI - she uses beautiful feminine designs and silhouettes.
One thing that struck me from interviewing Elsa is how dedicated she is to ensuring all her models feel good in what they wear. We spoke a bit about body image and how weight fluctuation during lockdown has impacted our view on the clothes we wear. By sending out measurement forms each month in the run up to the fashion show, Elsa has allowed models to update their sizes which she will then send to the brands to ensure every single model feels fabulous on the night.
FUZE are currently open to work with more brands for this year’s show, contact them via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or DM on Instagram.
Featured image: Epigram/Morgan Collins