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Eudaimonia: A Review

Imogen Gray reviews...

The day finally arrived for the Leeds RAG Fashion Show of 2023, under the name ‘Eudaimonia’. A word of Greek origin, described by Aristotle as “the highest good humans could strive towards - or a life well lived”. A life well lived, however, doesn’t come without its challenges and the RAG show set out to take us on a well trodden journey of mental health struggles, in collaboration with Young Minds UK and Leeds Surviver-Led Crisis Service, which the show was able to raise over £20,000 in aid of.

The show was split into 5 scenes, mirroring the psychological order in which we venture through lows to highs. We were taken from darkness to the light, greeting both the devil and the angel on our shoulder. The first scene began with ‘Sadness’. The beautifully solemn Moonlight Sonata filled the dark room, casting a light on the stately procession down the runway of beautiful black lace veils, long leather skirts and buckles and black tailored jackets with platform leather boots. This conveyed an alluring curation of mourners, perhaps for the death of a treasured punk-rock star, in harmony with the undercurrent of a Victorian funeral march. The scene was closed by Alexandra Thomas: an enchanting black angel in a sea of spectacular ruffles. The audience stuck in stillness as we watched on with sorrow ourselves.

A video interval between each scene catapulted us to the next, with the models reflecting on their own experiences with the corresponding emotion. Next, the audience was transmitted to a new vortex, “Lost”. While darkness was still permeating, the clothes had the added air of alien sci-fi. More daring outfits emerged, with one model wearing merely a draping of black mesh, with knee high leather platforms. The intricate white embroidery and sculptural corseted gowns, alongside the beautifully tailored, Jedi-esque garments gave Balenciaga a run for their money.

The atmosphere was once again replaced by “Anger”. The models channelled their inner rage, which kicked Lippy creative brains into gear as we prepare for our upcoming RAGE issue. The outfits were a shocking display of deconstructed suits, BDSM harnesses, chains and rips, with punk embellishments. We saw head-to-toe, red tartan, and Lippy’s own muse, Saba Siddiqui, in a sheer, red, knitted, rock star, dream of a dress. The audience was on a journey; you could feel the energy in the room become exhilarating. We were left with a doting salute, to the Godmother of Punk herself, Vivienne Isabel Westwood.

Once we had come to terms with the first half of our journey, through Sadness, Lost and Anger (after a cocktail in Terrace, which is besides the point) we were finally ‘Found’. This was one of my favourites. There was so much individuality from ensemble to ensemble, a beautiful metaphor for the distinctive experience of feeling found. There was a bohemian feel of pastel, 70s silhouettes, with a mix of cottage-core, softness of satin and tulle. It was a gorgeous display of a unique variety of femininity and elegance.

Lastly, we were ‘Feeling Good’ as we were led into ‘Hope’, the final scene of the night, with Nina Simone filling our ears, played by Tiger Edison and her groovy 7 piece soul band, the only pick-me-up song we should be listening to get out of a funk. The outfits encapsulated fashion freedom in its greatest form. Every colour you could imagine with feathers, satin, lace and sparkles, corsets, modesty and conversely the most audacious tops going. Each outfit told the story of every beautiful soul that strutted down that runway with immense ease and confidence. There is always hope, there is always light at the end of the tunnel and the final message here was: being yourself is the purest form of expression. My only hope, leaving the show, was that one day I could borrow the most heavenly, hot pink, sheer, dress of everyone's hopes and dreams, which Joy Celly graced the runway with to end the show. Joy will be living in my head rent free, forever more, my fairy godmother.

Everyone involved with putting together Eudaimonia should be more than proud, with special mention to Creative Directors, Joshua Davies and Zuzanna Fiedorowicz, and Fashion Show Coordinator, Kelsey Campbell. Also, we can't forget to mention the incredible stylists, Lily Sutton (stylist for Sadness), Ashita Doshi (stylist for Lost), Jessica Brodigan (stylist for Anger), Jessica Dunn (stylist for Found) and Charlotte Parry (stylist for Hope).


Words: Imogen Gray

Image credit: Imogen Gray & Julia Brookes


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