By Lydia Glavey
(Left: Josie Bennett/Right: Gabi Centro)
The RAG Fashion Show is undeniably the most visually aesthetic event of the year in the Leeds Calendar – what more could one ask for besides innovative, sustainable fashion with a charitable cause? In addition to the show consistently raising spectacular profits, (over £1 million since 2012 for numerous charities), LRFS celebrates diversity and individuality in every shape, size, race, or gender. The viewing of the show will obviously be different this year due to the dreaded C word, but I have no doubt in my mind that it will be any less incredible, or include any less glitter, glam, and raw talent.
I caught up with the directors of LRFS 2020, Gabi Centro and Josie Bennett, to discuss all things behind the scenes of this years’ show.
Tell me about yourselves; where are you from, what do you study? Do you have any career goals in mind?
Gabi - I’m from just outside of London and I study art and design – I’d love to go into producing or artistic direction. I also have a huge love of food, so maybe working in the restaurant industry.
Josie – I'm from Devon and I study Liberal Arts but major in Politics. I’m mostly interested in humanitarian work as a career; maybe working within human rights internationally.
Being a director is such a broad job but requires so much detail, and people don’t always quite understand how much work it requires - could you tell me the type of work you have to do as a director?
Gabi – We give our creative vision for the show, and our main job is to carry this through to the end. This years’ show is going to look a bit different, but we still have to follow through with our vision and ensure the committee knows what they’re doing, and how they’re going to do it.
Josie - We also hired the committee members which consists of just over 40 university students, and delegated roles to each team and we oversee everybody. We hold weekly meetings to ensure everybody is getting on with their tasks, alongside having individual meetings with heads of committee teams.
What is your overall vision for the show; are there any hints you can give without revealing the theme?
Gabi – When we started planning the show, COVID was still the biggest theme in the world. We didn’t want to base the show entirely around it, but instead, how the pandemic has bought out some benefits in society, such as hope, unity, peace, kindness.
Josie – The show is constantly up in the air and changing due to the uncertainty of COVID. We’re constantly having to adapt and try new ways of how we can put on the best show we can whilst still under regulations. The theme reveal is in March though!
What are the biggest limits and problems you’ve encountered whilst planning the show?
Gabi – The show was originally going to be held in February as it always is, so we were planning for it to happen then as we thought things would resume as normal by then. We’ve had to push the show back until May unfortunately, because of the constant changing and having to look at various options of how we can run the show within the restrictions.
Josie - It’s been so challenging at times because we’re both so uncertain, so it can be hard to portray this and keep the team motivated when nothing is definite and there aren’t specific tasks like there usually would be, but the team have always remained keen and pulled their weight. We’ve also had to do virtual fundraisers, which opposes other years having launch parties and other events so it’s harder, but we’ve still been successful. We’ve had online talks from YouTubers and events, so it’s been different but still fun.
The chosen charities this year are Labour Behind the Label and Carers Leeds. Could you tell me why these charities in particular were chosen?
Gabi – With Labour Behind the Label, we’re putting on a fashion show, so we wanted a charity that related to the cause. The charity works extremely well to investigate ethical problems within the industry, such as sweatshops and fast fashion, so we wanted to implement sustainability into the message of our show. Labour Behind the Labels’ work shows the humanitarian side of the fashion industry, as well as environmentalism, which are important factors when putting on a fashion show.
Josie – We also wanted to support a local charity, so we found Carers Leeds, which we thought was really relevant due to COVID. There are so many carers that are not being paid in these times, and therefore Carers Leeds helps to support these people, and we felt they could really benefit at the moment.
Is there anything else you’d like to add about the fashion show?
Gabi – Despite everything being so different, we’ve both had an amazing experience so far directing the show. Our committee has been so helpful and patient, even though things have been difficult. We still want to get as much out of the show as we can, so to keep updated please follow our social media pages as more will be explained over there.
Josie – To anybody interested in taking part in LRFS next year, go for it – it has been such a great experience and we’ve really developed as people. It’s an experience I think anybody would enjoy if they’re passionate about raising money for charity and fashion.
Facebook: Leeds RAG Fashion Show