This year’s much anticipated 10th anniversary Leeds RAG Fashion Show took the captivating title of ‘TIME•LESS’, a show incorporating the moments in life experienced by all, ones to remember, ones we would rather avoid and ones we would like to revive. These key events in life are ones that fashion similarities between us all. With this in mind, directors Jonathan Canizales and Nick Fola Egunjobi provided a show that audiences, committee members and models all want to relive. Influenced by the concepts behind Kendrick Lamar’s hit album DAMN, in which all tracks are identified by a single, definitive word, LRFS 2018 focused upon the five themes of Birth, War, Peace, Death and RE. RE encapsulating the ideas of RE•VIVAL, RE•CYCLE and RE•BIRTH. All were perfectly captured in the showcased styles, chosen by RAG’s team of talented stylists, headed by Jen Sedona Lea. The charities chosen to benefit from the extensive fundraising organised by the RAG heads of events, Brogan Kelly and Kiran Manak, were Leeds Mind and Dementia UK. The issues associated with were both poignantly portrayed through the show’s name, TIME•LESS, highlighting the irrelevance of time when it comes to mental illness. In keeping with the five themes of the show, it can affect anyone at any time, becoming a significant event in the life of an individual and when experienced by so many, another similarity between us.
Starting at Birth, the show generated an atmosphere of anticipation, an audience in suspense of what the other themes may involve. The styles incorporated calm, subtle tones of nudes and whites capturing the innocence of the theme and setting the image of a blank canvas provided to us all at birth.The definitive focus upon each outfit was created through the simplicity of the performance, each model walking solo to achieve the full focus and attention of those watching. This simple yet captivating performance created a mix of emotions therefore offering two perspectives on the action of Birth.
Through the perceptive medium of music and lighting, spectators were instantly transported into a new element of our lives; WAR. As the lights fell to red hues and strobes flashed in rhythm to the heavy beats, bodies from the front row lunged forward in unison and anticipation. Models appeared in strong bold poses before marching in military fashion down the runway. This combination of direction and media complemented the khaki tones, chunky boots and double-breasted military jackets that invaded the catwalk. The calculated planning of human war was manipulated by an element of animalistic nature generated by the camouflage tones and tribal face paints, experimenting with our boundaries between ourselves as cultured humans and natural animals.
Yet as we were transcended into Peace, the work of stylists and Canizales and Egunjobi depicted a partnership between humans and nature. Looks took beautiful romanticised aesthetics playing with soft hues, fluffy textures and floral patterns. This scene resonated with the recent rival of the 70s hippie movement featuring elegant flares. Yet this 70s trend was removed from the decade and transported to the medium of timelessness with futuristic silver and gold foils immersing themselves in the festivity of peace.
Then of course came the inevitable; DEATH. This scene may appear minimal in artistic opportunity with an expected bombardment of black attire filtering down the runway. Yet RAG stylists achieved in expressing the various and complex emotions affiliated with death. The outlet of aggression was expressed through heavy gothic attires with chains draped across clothing symbolising that defence so often put up by many of us at such as difficult time. A quieter understanding of death was also conveyed with the use of soft black silks and veils representing the reclusiveness sometimes appreciated when mourning. There was even a suggestion of peace embodied into the scene of ‘Death’. A beautiful black silk dress accentuated by embellished oriental shoulder pads transcended down the catwalk as the model walked with a slow grace contrasting hugely against the original gothic symbols of death. This eclectic scene not only featured all aspects of style, but a variety of emotions representing mental health at such a difficult time.
Finally, we experienced RE•VIVAL. A theme that came as a breath of fresh air and one encouraging hope. Something reminding the audience that despite the difficulties associated with the issues of both charities, there is always a degree of hope and better times. This was flawlessly achieved through the bold, exciting styles displayed in the shows finale. Dancing to some of the best 80s dance tunes, models showcased looks conveying such energy that those watching wanted nothing more than to join them, or at least throw some shapes at the after party. Jumpsuits and dungarees emulated Comme de Garcons and epitomised a feeling of fun, well and truly making up-cycling fashionable and aiding its emergence as an innovative trend for 2018 and the future.
Indya Harvey and Isabella Minns
Images: Dylan Mentzel, Instagram: m.v_d