We must start this article with a monumental thank you to everybody involved in the show on Friday. Our volunteers and models made the experience an incredible success with their hard work and passion for the cause. It would not have been possible without the unity and high energy of you all on the day.
The event truly felt like an overwhelming success; after months of planning and exasperating hard work Annie, Georgie and I managed to pull together our first event working late into the night and weekends around our full time jobs. We emailed until our fingers were numb, persistently fought for funding and flyered until we ran out of places to go; it all paid off on the day and we seamlessly improvised through unexpected challenges.
The Team: Annie (Media), Holly (Director), Georgie (Stylist), Danielle (Event Manager at Cargo)
We welcomed guests including the Women’s Equality Party’s Sophie Walker and Catherine Meyer, plus size model Jada Sezer, activist model Rain Dove and America’s Next Top Model’s first homosexual contestant Cory Wade. All of whom were incredibly passionate about the cause and recognised the necessity of opening a conversation about the detrimental impacts of fashion around gender, beauty, diversity and representation. Sophie Walker gave a captivating speech about WEP’s #NoSizeFitsAll body image campaign, in which a fundamental component is to pressure London mayer Sadiq Khan into withdrawing funding from London Fashion Week for shows that do not cast at least one model of size 12 or above. Our audience were reassuringly engaged and opened up further important conversations around body image and fashion. Take action here.
Sophie Walker, Leader of the Women’s Equality Party, speaking on 09.09.16
Then the show began! Our models were beaming with confidence and excitement and it showed; for some it was their first time on the runway and for others it was second nature. Our Wonder Woman stylist Georgie styled and dressed the models on the day with help from our dedicated volunteers, all in perfect timing with each walk as we watched in awe. Designers included Gudrun & Gudrun, a sustainable knitwear brand and Neon Moon a feminist lingerie brand. Each look made a statement through visual culture in terms of gender and beauty.
VIPs at the ProjectFEM event, 09.09.16
We must talk diversity and representation – our fundamental aim and integral to our values and mission. We were successful in achieving racial diversity amongst our cast of models and we had a range of genders and ages. However, we must recognise that we did not capture a cast as representative as we had hoped. We had recruited plus-sized models and models with physical disabilities; however they pulled out last minute which was out of our control. This meant that we did not manage to represent physical disability in the show, whilst invisible disabilities were present amongst our cast.
Catwalk Finale, 09.09.16
Upon reflection, as much as we advertised through social media, flyered and put out casting calls with diverse modelling agencies, we struggled to capture the amount of transgender, age diverse models and models with disabilities as we wanted. This is because in comparison to the wider modelling population, there are seldom models with these qualities; this seems obvious reflecting back, but we felt that we would easily find these models with diverse agencies. We already knew diversity and representation of these demographics were under or unrepresented, and if there is no consistent mainstream space for these people then how can there exist an aspiring population of models ready to jump at our advert? We advertised with a diverse modelling agency but that brought us only young, slim and ethnically diverse models. Diversity is more than that.
Models from the ProjectFEM Catwalk, 09.09.16
This challenge exemplifies the necessity for us to continue our work in advocating true human representation within fashion; to achieve that we need to provide opportunities, hope and change for human beings who are completely unrepresented by the fashion industry. We need to give them the space to become models in the first place, to pressure fashion week organisers, designers and advertising agencies to allow equal space for these models. We cannot simply widen the goal posts of idealised beauty by having racial and size diversity, we need to reinvent those ideals from a deeper primary level with the radical value that we are all beautiful, all races, abilities, genders, sizes and ages included.
We cannot widen the goal posts of what or who is considered beautiful, we need to revolutionise what we are told beauty is. If people outside the stereotypical ideal of beauty are not represented then they are unlikely to aspire to become models. We must provide that empowerment and a platform for them to do so. We have learnt a tremendous amount just from hosting our first event and our values, drive and integrity has never been stronger!
Feedback from models following the event
Author: Holly C x