Perhaps the most fundamental infrastructure of planet earth are the elements which can be traced back thousands of years, comprising briefly, but not entirely, of aluminium, titanium, silver, gold and copper. This dynamic Segment of the RAG fashion show incorporated a modern twist on a representation of these elements, perhaps most notable; two topless models, the female in bell bottom silver reworked denim jeans, and both covered completely from neck to ribcage in a thick layer of impenetrable glitter and rhinestones. Whether this look served as a statement of the earth as interwoven with the human race, or whether it bought the elements into the modern political fashion scene by paying homage to the ‘#freethenipple’, it was a strong one, and one which captivated its audience.
Opening the section, a PVC leather dress, slashed to look like a cage over a leather bra and brief set. Black Glitter around the eyes and minimal make up elsewhere sold this look as an embodiment of the earth’s fuels, oil and coal, striking and impactful. Perhaps another piece key to this collection, was a plunge neck halter jumpsuit, backless and made of black and gold glitter, interwoven and reflective of the elements. The rest of the section was more in keeping with the reflective and progressive style of the glittery torso’s as previously mentioned. Silver tasselled swing dresses and a caped copper coloured plunge bodysuit were worn by models with a forceful, powerful and energetic demeanour.
Throughout this section of the show, the energy and impact of the elements and the fuels we use from them was central in contributing the overarching show theme, the cycle of the earth. The show was a total success, perfectly capturing the past, the present and the future of our earth if we adopt ethical fashion choices.
The third section of this year’s Rag fashion show and my personal favourite was the ‘Minimalist’ stage. A paled palette of colour with a range of complementary textures and silhouettes this stage provided a sophisticated contrast to the glitter of the previous elements stage. The muted tones were Chloé -esque sharing the romantic feel that Clare Weight Keller brought back during her time as creative director.
Some of the stand out designs came from London and Berlin based designer Jule Waibel who provided my favourite piece of the show- a high-necked pastel peach mini dress. Waibel’s designs are completely unique in how their structure and shape is created through folds in the fabric which expand and contract. Having created similar pieces in paper to act as sculptural pieces of art, Waibel has brought the designs into reality using pleated fabric with great success. The geometrically structured design was paired with a black, tilted couture hat from House of Charles which added a contrasting aspect to the femininity of the outfit.
Another incredible piece shown in this section came from Norwegian designer Christine Smith Egeland and her label Stina Smith. An incredible black lace, full length spiralled skirt from Egeland’s SS/17 ‘Unquiet Mind’ collection was modelled by Lydia Evans. The shapes seen in this latest collection were apparently designed to accentuate the female body and this design certainly delivers by being the most structured piece in the show. A chunky cream knit sweater was the perfect addition, pulling the look together through added texture.
Big coats and soft colours created bold silhouettes which as stated in the show’s guide was ‘illustrative of wiping the slate clean’. Overall the section was beautifully put together and showcased different techniques with representation of the slow fashion movement.
The fourth scene of this year’s Leeds RAG fashion show ‘denim re-worked’ symbolised the idea of reconstruction in fashion. The collection, representative of the circular economy, symbolised a backlash against over-consumption and reaffirmed the values of upcycling old garments in exchange for buying new ones.
Earlier in February the Leeds RAG Fashion committee held a ‘rework your denim’ workshop where students could bring along their old denim pieces and bring them back to life with the help of Leeds University fashion students. This theme was continued onto the catwalk, which featured upcycled styles including embellished denim jackets, metallic-painted jeans and dungarees covered in reflective, fringed jackets.
Forget the daring double-denim, this year’s show saw triple-denim brace the catwalk! The ‘anything goes’ ethos behind the show is what made it so engaging and memorable. As upcycling is particularly relevant to students, the collection gave some inspiring insights into how to update old denim on a budget. Unlike the other sections of the show, denim-reworked created a playful atmosphere on the runway, with models dancing and clapping their way down the catwalk. Refreshingly the models looked as though they were loving every moment, symbolising the passion and creativity that is so central to the fashion industry.
Photography: Adriana de las Cuevas and Hannah Brown