The Collection: Leeds Rag Fashion Show 2019
BY ROB STEEL
And just like that, it’s all over for another year! And what a year it was. LRFS19 is arguably the best show that RAG have organised to date – from the moment we stepped into Pyramid to the moment we collapsed into our beds at 4am, the whole event was a level of quality and professionalism that makes the night feel like it should be held during London Fashion Week.
For the past 5 months, the show has been meticulously organised by the directors Bella Bowes and Tamika Hewitt, along with their veritable army of 45 committee members. 100 models were chosen, dressed and sent down the runway in precisely choreographed routines to display outfits designed by up-and-coming designers and Leeds graduates, in an evening that truly celebrated their talents.
And on top of all of this, the show raised a massive £23,209.89 for this year’s two chosen charities – Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund (http://www.pcrf.org.uk/) and Behind Closed Doors (http://www.behind-closed-doors.org.uk/). Both charities do great work in Leeds – one of PCRF’s 59 research projects is taking place right here on the University of Leeds campus, and Behind Closed Doors provides support across the Leeds District to reach out to some of the 2.1 million people affected by domestic violence. Both are incredible charities with close ties to the LRFS team.
And now for the show! We were lucky enough to experience the VIP reception, held in Pyramid before the show started, it certainly got the night started in the right way. The band were in full swing, providing the perfect ambience for guests to mill around with their glasses of prosecco and sunshine yellow goodie bags. We’d like to take a moment to thank whoever chose to have Barburrito provide the food (in partnership with Deliveroo) because they were amazing (although definitely not vegan)! Two heartfelt speeches were then presented by members of both Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund and Behind Closed Doors, outlining what each charity was working towards and giving us an insight into what the money raised on the evening would be helping to achieve.
Before we knew it we were being whisked to our seats, guided by members of the LRFS team into an unrecognisable refectory, decked out with lights and smoke machines.
The Collection was this year’s theme, inspired by prominent art movements from the last three centuries, divided into five sections: Romanticism, Impressionism, Cubism, Surrealism and Pop Art. Each section wholeheartedly embodied its own movement, from the makeup and styling to the music and choreography.
Romanticism was a chiffon lovers’ dream. Pastel colours and flowing fabrics were draped elegantly over the models, who glided down the runway, solemn yet ethereal. Wildflowers adorned each piece, reminiscent of the marriage of humanity and nature that the Romanticism movement embodied. Each outfit had an edge to it to represent the movement being brought into the modern day – bold colours or leather trousers were worn in conjunction with light ruffled fabrics to give the scene an edge. The music was a combination of operatic arias and electronic backbeats to really emphasise this contrast of moods. Ballet dancers graced the catwalk with a routine to bring us into the next section.
Impressionism grounded us firmly back into the real world. The makeup was a real highlight for this section, with bold striking lines and colours expertly matched with the outfits on display. Raw outlines and strong, structured silhouettes were the game here – a combination of utility and industrial streetwear, the models captured this feel with strong and steady strides down the runway. Reminiscent of Virgil Abloh’s recent Off-White collections, we were treated to statement colours, asymmetric lines and hard materials and technical fabrics. At times it almost felt like the set of the new Star Wars movie. The temporality of the scene was brilliant and swiftly made way for the next era.
Cubism. A real homage to the art movement, cubism featured exaggerated outlines, bright colours and strong shoulders – a throwback to the power suits of the 80s. Models looked empowered and really strutted their stuff down the runway. This was definitely one of the most enjoyable scenes to watch, as each model took their own flair and gave the scene a powerful shine. 80s music accompanied the walks, giving a real dance feel to the movemen
During a short interval where we were treated to a performance by LUUMS Chamber Choir, we caught up with some of the audience members to get their opinions. Scarlett, Tom and Emma all unanimously agreed that Cubism was their favourite so far, with Tom calling it the “most wearable”.
Surrealism was next. Contemporary dancers crept onto the stage clad in black, skulking along the floor in jarring yet beautiful movements before the models casually paraded onto the catwalk around them. Power dynamics were really at play here and the outfits reflected this – eccentricity was key. Colours and textures clashed, with some of the most daring fashion choices featured here. Harnesses and duvets alike came down the runway one after another, the models posing with superiority over the dancers. Some of my favourite fashion items were featured here.
And then we turned in stark contrast to the final section: Pop Art. The runway became a dancefloor and the atmosphere turned into a 60s disco party. Definitely a crowd pleaser, and the audience were on their feet at multiple points during the scene as bright neons and clashing patterns playfully made their way down the catwalk. The makeup was bright and inspired by Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe, giving a bright and cheerful coverage to each face. Music ranged from Destiny’s Child to Bee Gees, and we loved every second of it!
All of the models were given another chance to parade down the runway in the closing number, and the party was in full swing! Everyone was on their feet and we were treated to some beautiful dance moves (and even one sickening death drop - you know who you are!). What was immediately noticeable was the truly diverse array of models that were involved in the show – something that the rest of the fashion industry could do with replicating. LRFS has shown us that it can and should be done.
And just like that, the show was over for another year! Everyone rushed over to Church, eager for the afterparty to begin, and the chance to hang out with all of the stunning models from the show.
From us here at Lippy we’d like to say a big thank you to everyone involved in organising the event, every second was as incredible as we’d hoped it would be.