15th of February 2018. Put it in your diaries. Whack a post-it on the wall. Tell your friends, flatmates, housemate, tutors, lecturers, anyone and everyone. Leeds RAG Fashion Show is returning for the 10th year and this turn of a decade is set to complement the increasing diversity of the wider fashion community. With the first ever RAG vision set out by male Creative Directors, Jonathon Canizales and Nickolas Fola Egunjobi, they envisage a show that breaks the boundaries of purely ‘models on a catwalk’. With the aim to incorporate the political with the visual, homing in on influences of modern art with a prime focus on setting and atmosphere, it’s set to leave you experiencing “fear, admiration, happiness, sadness, everything.” (Jonathon Canizales)
Although keeping this year’s theme top secret, Canizales and Egunjobi plan to draw upon inspiration from personal and wider experiences with mental health, choosing to dedicate this years charitable funds to a variety of organisations including Leeds Mind and Dementia UK. Canizales wants this show to unite the audience in gaining empathy for mental health and opening up about the taboo topic, giving the audience an experience where “you’re going to be fighting yourself”. Having taken a year abroad and coming face to face with the isolation of mental health, Canizales wants this year’s charities to run parallel with the show itself and reflect the difficulties of recognising the reality of such issues for an individual. Canizales highlights this as something that is particularly difficult for those like himself, from ethnic minority backgrounds where a stigma towards mental health is still very much present. It’s clear that the show is bound to reflect honest and genuine experiences in correlation with the theme.
For Egunjobi, fashion has always been a prevalent factor in his every day life (he laughs sharing that “Whenever I got ready for school my dad would be like ‘you’re not going to a fashion show’”). However, for Canizales fashion is a new tool of expression that came to him in his second year of university after modelling for RAG himself. Yet the directors are no strangers to the arts. Both are members of the Street Dance Society, working together to create the society’s merchandise. This year’s show offers the duo the opportunity to delve further into the fashion industry and immerse themselves behind the scenes.
Last Tuesday gave an inkling of what to expect. At the launch party, held at The Faversham, stylists, directors, organisers, models and fashion enthusiasts came together to celebrate the partnership of creativity and charity. The atmosphere was fuelled with excitement housing grins and embraces, exchanged alongside some jazzy dance moves being dropped to the beat of the in-house DJ. A hue of blue light cast across the floor embellishing the army of unique styles sported by the party- goers. Fashion was not so prevalent here but style certainly dominated. Uniqueness and authenticity was celebrated by the attendees’ excited preparation for the much anticipated February show and theme coordinated by Canizales, Egunjobi and their ‘bomb-ass committee.” (Egunjobi).