Leeds Rag Fashion Show presents a wonderful world of art and romance

Former Leeds University student Harriet Timmins found much to impress at this directional and colourful charity event. Pictures by Milly Hewitt.

Romanticism. Picture by Milly Hewitt.

Romanticism set the scene for the 11th annual Leeds Rag Fashion Show, with lots of chiffon, frills and floaty dresses on both men and women taking to the catwalk.

Showcased at Leeds University Union, ‘The Collection’ was directed by Arabella Bowes and Tamika Hewitt and featured five scenes based around historical art movements: Romanticism, Impressionism, Cubism, Surrealism and Pop Art.

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The show is a product of the Leeds Raise and Give society, and this year all of the money raised is going towards The Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund and Leeds based domestic abuse charity Behind Closed Doors. The Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund is working on pioneering research at the University of Leeds and in a grand reveal by the directors at the end of the show, we learned they had raised a grand total of £23,000 for their chosen charities – the most ever raised by the show in its 11 years of production.

Picture by Milly Hewitt

The clothes in the Romanticism movement were ethereal and feminine, drawing on a muted pastel colour palette and incorporating delicate fabrics like lace and tulle. The scene played with ideas of femininity and overcame boundaries on gendered dress that bought particular charm and elegance to the catwalk. Stylist Lily Kinnear Griffiths said: “Romanticism is a late 18th century art movement inspired by the power and beauty of nature and the fluidity of feeling over rigid rationality. To reflect this, [I] incorporated flowing silhouettes, transparent fabrics that draw focus to the skin, and floral detailing.”

Impressionism was styled by Ali Griffiths, who said: “Since impressionist painters focused on the world around them, what style is there to better represent this than street style? The style is born out of cultural and social influences, and represents everything about the world we live in.” The runway saw a combination of industrial inspired clothing, lots of denim and a spectrum of silhouettes and shapes. Griffiths’ styling included accessories by brands Off White and Mki Miyuki Zoku.

A particular favourite was Cubism, a scene full of block colours and some almost extra-terrestrial garments. Among the most wearable of the collection was a red and blue colour block two piece paired with black heeled boots so all of the focus was on the colour. Stylist Orla McMullan had wanted to use “garments that play with the idea of perspective, that go against the natural human form; exaggerated and oversized silhouettes and lots of structured and angular pieces to juxtapose the soft curves of the natural form”.

The final two scenes, Surrealism and Pop Art, both saw an explosion of colour on the runway. With bold patterns, tonnes of texture and decades of silhouettes, there was something for everyone for the final half of the show. The models were energetic, the atmosphere was electric and it all led to an unforgettable finale with live music and performers. Amy Brogden, stylist of Surrealism, said that the scene was supposed to be “weird, wonderful and a little disturbing” while Solene Rose wanted Pop Art to be “fun and rich with colour.” Rose also said she was inspired by designers Jeremy Scott and Gianni Versace.

Picture by Milly Hewitt

This year’s show can only be commended for the creativity behind every scene, the diversity in body types and backgrounds among every one of the models, and of course for the incredible amount of money it has helped to raise for two very important charities in the Yorkshire region and across the nation.

For more information on how to get involved with The Pancreatic Research Fund https://www.pcrf.org.uk/ and Behind Closed Doors http://www.behind-closed-doors.org.uk/

Picture by Milly Hewitt
Picture by Milly Hewitt