The annual Leeds RAG Fashion Show is one of the most highly anticipated events on the union calendar, and this year’s show, Samsara, was no exception. Samsara, directed by Scarlett Gurney and Assistant Directors Helen Clifford and Laura Clifford, represented the cycle of the earth, focusing on sustainable topics such as upcycling and slow fashion. The directors aimed to challenge the audience’s perspective of fashion by exposing uncomfortable, realistic elements of the industry. In honour of charities Labour Behind The Label and Cruelty Free International Trust, two important causes with powerful messages, the show aimed to educate consumers on their approach to fashion and consumption. The shows sponsors included No Curfew, Santander and Deliveroo.
Renegade Hair and Illamasqua provided and sponsored the model’s hair and makeup, creating a variety of striking looks from body paint to hair intertwined with fabric. Each of the 65 models were selected by model managers Helena De Carteret and Lauren Ann Wood based on their diversity, multiculturalism and gender neutrality. The show kicked off with an acoustic performance from the talented Joel Stewart, a Human Geography Leeds University student from Hertfordshire.
The show was divided into six scenes which all expressed a different element of sustainable design. The combination of student and exterior sustainable designers included Anna Bosworth, William Palmer, Jaded, Wear it North, Pretty Radical and Faye Hindle. This year’s head stylist Tiffany Grous and deputy stylist Maya Sherpa did not conform to traditional styles associated with sustainability but instead pushed the boundaries with a running theme of ‘#freethenipple’, body-painted torsos and the infamous triple-denim!
The first collection, ‘back to the roots’, reflected on the foundations of the earth, creating an atmosphere most people would traditionally associate with sustainability. The second scene, ‘elements’, provided a striking contrast to the previous collection with metallic, embellished designs and topless models. This scene focused on the earths finite resources and raw materials such as oil, water, iron and diamonds. ‘Elements’ presented some of the show’s most memorable looks with models painted in silver glitter and sequins. The third scene, ‘minimalist’, represented a clean slate with a muted colour palette and structured designs, expressive of the slow fashion movement.
The interval was followed by another acoustic performance from the reputable Thomas Harvey, a Leeds based singer-songwriter who is set to release his debut single ‘Swimming in Mud’ later this year. The scenes continued with ‘denim re-worked’, which presented upcycled designs including embellished denim jackets and painted jeans with models dancing their way down the catwalk. The fifth collection, ‘revival’, combined rich colours and texture from vintage inspirations, demonstrating ways of wearing pre-loved items in a current, updated way. The final scene, ‘samsara’, was the most dominant collection. Models graced the catwalk wearing fishnets, piercings and dark, textural garments, representing the powerful need for sustainability.
The Gryphon fashion editors received VIP passes into the show which included entrance to a private event held in Stylus. The VIP event, organised by heads of VIP Molly Wright and Els Pullen, provided canvas bags filled with goodies, vegan canapés from Humpit, a selfie printing mirror, live music and a Red Bull cocktail bar (which we particularly enjoyed!).
The show was an overwhelming success and raised an incredible £10,000 for the chosen charities. Following the show the committee enjoyed a much deserved after-party at The Back Room on Call Lane. The empowering Samsara exceeded all expectations. A night filled with live music, diverse fashion and such current, important values – three cheers for the committee!
Photography: Adriana de las Cuevas and Hannah Brown