Tuesday, 28 February 2012

All the Rage

The All Walks protest march around the city of Edinburgh on Wednesday proved to be more than a success. Not only did the teams from Edinburgh College of Art and the University for the Creative Arts raise awareness and receive positive responses from the public, who were actively engaged in supporting the cause of diversity in fashion, but we even got a slot in the Edinburgh Evening News!

With copious amounts of enthusiasm and energy, we proved that there is a strong demand for change. There is no doubt that we, as the next generation, can make a positive difference for the fashion industry. The Diversity in Fashion team is very excited to continue our collaboration with the Edinburgh College of Art students, and carry on the campaign. The protests in Edinburgh were only the beginning of what is sure to be an enduring and influential project. Next stop, London Fashion Week!

Get involved by following the Diversity in Fashion team on Facebook here and on Twitter here.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Protest In Progress: Part One

Day two of our All Walks collaboration and we're taking the mannequins out onto the streets of Edinburgh to challenge the public's views and opinions of beauty. Here are the first three of the bunch...

Mannequin one (from left) - "Alice"
Holly Glover, Melissa Villevielle, Sarah Kilkenny and Bella McLeod have used a collage of diverse images to showcase forms of beauty rarely seen in commercial, westernised magazines. Melissa said, "It's such a dynamic and colourful world out there. There's so much more than the bland models you mostly get."

Mannequin two - "Reflector"
Instead of forcing their message onto the public, Colleen Leitch, Lilly Archebald and Emma Lawrie decided it was better to hear how people perceive themselves. Recreating the effect of looking in the mirror by using reflective material, they are trying to encourage a positive rather than a negative response. "We don't just want to tell people [our message], we want people to tell us," said Lilly.

Mannequin three - "Marilyn"
Andrew Dhesi, Nina Cutler and Kate Cockburn contrasted pre-Raphaelite nudes with the skinny models of today to show that throughout history, the beauty ideal has changed many times. "Beauty is malleable, not concrete." They raise the question, if curves were beautiful back then, why in a more liberal world are they not beautiful now?

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Can't we go back to the 50s?

After talking to the students here at Edinburgh College of Art, it is clear that the young designers are looking for change in the fashion industry. The overall consensus is that the industry's idea of a 'normal' body type is damaging the self-esteem of young women and that students want to design clothes for healthy bodies. As one young designer pointed out, "It's frustrating that at London Fashion Week a size 8/10 is a plus-size."

The students are aiming to promote confidence by creating designs that honour the natural healthy body, regardless of size or shape.  The second-year project has been inspired by a genuine 50's mannequin, a Marilyn Monroe-shape, more typical of that era. Diversity in model shape has become stagnant since the arrival of the waif-look in the 90's, when beauties such as Helena Christensen, Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford dominated the fashion pages. There is a certain nostalgic element to the project; real, healthy women today are not considered high-fashion. The shocking treatment of Gemma Ward back in 2007 after her small weight gain, stylists walking out on Mark Fast's plus-size models in his S/S 2012 show, Karl Lagerfeld (enough said!)...

The weight debate is a delicate one. However, after meeting the Edinburgh students today, the future looks bright. If tomorrow's fashion designers are striving for change, perhaps the reign of size 0 is finally coming to an end.                                                                                 

A Form Of Protest

UCA's All Walks team interviewed Fashion Design students at Edinburgh College of Art taking part in the All Walks Centre Of Diversity Protest 2012 about their mannequin designs, which are being taken out on the streets of Edinburgh tomorrow to confront pedestrians with the growing need for diversity within the fashion industry, whether it's a matter of size, ethnicity, age or height.

"How can the death of models not be enough? These are unhealthy distorted thoughts of what the body should be and it's a vicious circle within the industry. But at the same time, we shouldn't push a certain size on models." -Holly and Loren

" Our design is about a reflection on the positive.Through the project we have realised, in regards to the extreme thinness of models today and just one standard clothing size, that it doesn't have to be like that. The industry should aim for it to just be about being healthy and what's best for you." -Colleen & Lilly, whose mannequin design is covered in reflective, mirror-like material.

"It is not about stopping 'the skinny', but embracing the new body.' - Heather

With such varied views on the subject diversity in fashion, we are looking forward to what tomorrow's protests in Edinburgh will bring, watch this space for further updates...

We've arrived!

The team

After five hours of rolling countryside and herds of sheep, we've finally reached Edinburgh!

This morning (after several cups of tea), we set off to meet the fashion students at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA), as part of the All Walks Beyond the Catwalk project. Greeted by head of fashion, Mal Burkinshaw, we had the grand tour before hearing what some of the students had to say about the project.

ECA students presenting their ideas

Once we were briefed, we were shown some of the students' design work and spoke to a few first and second year students about their inspiration and how important the All Walks project was to them...

Some of the toilles made by first year students  

The students are passionate about spreading the message of diversity in fashion and this translates to their design process. Second year student Lisa Berry focused her work around the ideal that "using words is the best way to get a message across." Words such as, "voluptuous" and "refined" helped to describe the female form. With regards to All Walks Beyond the Catwalk, Lisa said, "if enough people group together, maybe it could happen."

Another second year student, Sarah Innes found her 57-year-old muse in the local Boots. "I was interested in an older lady, as it's not something that you always see." Sarah's muse (with her candyfloss locks) encapsulated the words "unique" and "graceful", proving that style knows no age.  

Talking to all of these students, it was encouraging to see that the designers of tomorrow want to make a change today!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

All Walks Beyond The Catwalk

The time has finally come and we're all getting ready to head to Scotland tomorrow. It's here where we get to work with All Walks Beyond The Catwalk - founded by Caryn Franklin, Erin O'Connor and Debra Bourne.

The initiative aims to work with "influential catwalk designers and top industry creatives to celebrate more diversity within the fashion industry." This means broadening the boundaries in age, weight and race for models. All Walks realises that fashion can be a very powerful tool of communication and so intends to rectify the misleading ideals that it often perceives.

We'll be blogging and tweeting throughout the course of the trip so be sure to keep checking the blog and our Twitter (@diversityuca).

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Lagerfeld calls ADELE a "little too fat"

You're nominated for six awards at one of the most (if not the most) prestigious music award ceremonies in the world.
You leave said award show the recipient of all six awards.
Your record was the worldwide best-selling album of 2011.

But Karl Lagerfeld thinks you're "a little too fat".
What's a girl to do?

The comment made by Chanel's head designer and creative director came to light last week as he was guest editor for the Metro newspaper in Paris. As the public backlash and a threatened boycott of all Chanel products gathers pace, Lagerfeld is now claiming that his comments were "taken out of context", adding, "She [ADELE] is my favourite singer and I am a great admirer of her."

While close friend and comedian Alan Carr has had some choice words in retaliation to Lagerfeld's "out of context" comments, the songstress herself has refused to comment. 

Maybe she's simply too busy being a cover star for American Vogue and hanging out with six, shiny new friends...

Do you think Lagerfeld was right to comment on ADELE?

Friday, 10 February 2012

What do you think?

Diversity in fashion represents everything new and interesting in the industry. Nowadays, we are subjected to the 'cookie-cutter' ideals of what society deems as conventional. This means that models have become the same height, weight and look, causing us to forget what real people and real women ought to look like. Think the shapely silhouettes of the past - Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner and Josephine Baker.

We're a group of fashion journalism students from UCA Epsom that have been set with a challenge to talk to you about diversity in fashion. It has become apparent that we have been trapped within certain standards of beauty. We want to know what you think about these issues, so get in touch via the blog, or follow us on our Twitter page.