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Ephemeral Rebellion: Reflecting on Leeds RAG Fashion Show's 'Eclipse' Launch Party

For the last 16 years, Leeds RAG Fashion Show has been putting the University of Leeds on the map for staging shows that dare to be bold, innovative, and thought-provoking. Produced on the essence of compelling themes such as ‘Ignite’ and ‘Timeless’, the Leeds Raising and Giving Society never fails to push the boundaries of fashion whilst fundraising for a plethora of good causes. And this year is no different. Lippy had the pleasure of attending the show’s launch party last night which unveiled the theme ‘Eclipse’ as the creative vision for the 2024 event.

You would be forgiven for thinking that this theme would be a nod to the “whimsigoth” aesthetic, featuring constellation prints and soft silhouettes. However, the true intention for the show is to be a rebellious celebration of individuality and authentic style, both in the outfits on the runway and in the staging of the event.

Drawing on the ephemeral meeting of the Sun and the Moon, the upcoming show is set to explore the illicit celebration of our authentic identities that are often overshadowed by the societal expectations that are cast on us. But by mimicking the act of a solar eclipse, Leeds RAG is advocating for these barriers to be broken down and for our ‘lunar essence’ — or our hidden selves – to be thrust into the spotlight.

The concept is a breath of fresh air for Leeds RAG. Although highlighting social injustices and mobilising change is certainly not new territory for the society, this year's emphasis on the difficulty of fighting internal battles and presenting our true selves to the world is particularly powerful. In staging a show centredon the phenomenon of an eclipse, Leeds RAG reminds us to view ourselves as celestial beings and appreciate the divine beauty we have that cannot be defined by outside influences.

The dress code for the launch party was truly a testament to the ‘Eclipse’ theme. Inspired by the phrase ‘Shine Bright,’ attendees were encouraged to let their personal style shine through, and the outcome was a spectacle of individuality.

And it wasn’t just the fashion that exhibited the creative essence of the evening. The eclectic mix of performances, featuring a lineup of Flat Moon, Pleasure Centre, Staff, Nilanjanaa Jayant and a DJ set from Eoin Fyfe, perfectly depicted the beauty of originality in their vastly different musical styles.

The theme is not the only thing setting Leeds RAG apart from other fashion shows. This year’s focus on inclusive model castings is evidence that the Leeds Raising and Giving society is becoming a trailblazer for the wider fashion industry. By consistently working with the idea that societal expectations mask our true selves, these castings defied how the global fashion industry stages runway shows and campaigns with minimum regard to inclusivity.

In true Leeds RAG style, the charities being supported this year are closely intertwined with this social message. Ditch the Label, MESMAC and Leeds Nightline are all services that offer young people a non-discriminatory space to tackle their issues and gain support for problems that may be preventing them from accepting themselves. These non-judgmental services can be a lifeline to students in Leeds, and bringing awareness to them in such an evocative way will hopefully act as a reminder that they do not have to suffer in silence.

It is safe to say that in encouraging us to celebrate the beautifully unconventional aspects of ourselves, the ‘Eclipse’ theme and launch party are just the start of the transformative experience the 2024 Leeds RAG Fashion Show will offer us.

For more updates on the fundraising events that the Leeds Raising and Giving Society is putting on, check out their Instagram: @leedsragfashionshow

Words by Katie Martin (she/her)


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