LFW: A Season For Activism
For autumn/winter 2019, a continuing trend across London Fashion Week
was the act of fashion to protest, with many designers using their fashion
week platform for activism across numerous causes including Brexit, climate
change, women’s rights, and justice for Grenfell.
Vivienne Westwood ‘Homo Loquax’
Most vocally was Vivienne Westwood who used her autumn/winter 2019
catwalk to act more as a manifesto, with an assembled cast of activists
including actress Rose McGowan and Greenpeace executive director, John
Sauven addressing the fashion crowd on a number of issues including the
consequences of consumerism, climate change, and Brexit, which the designer
call a “crime”.
The underpinned message: “Buy less, choose well, make it last.”
As for the fashion, it was Westwood honouring her anti-establishment,
punk roots, with dishevelled-looking coats, hand-knitted recycled jumpers,
bold tartan suits, and slogan T-shirts including one of stating, “Too fast
to live, too young to die” as well as one saying, “What’s good for the
planet is good for the economy”.
At the end of the show Westwood herself skipped down the catwalk singing
the children’s song ‘Round and Round the Village’, with her model
protestors marching with banners to form a picket line on the stage of the
former church venue in Westminster.
Image: Catwalkpictures/ Vivienne Westwood AW 2019-2020
Justice4Grenfell takes a stand at London Fashion Week
20 months on from the Grenfell Tower fire in London that claimed 72
lives, 72 people, comprising of activists, bereaved families, members of
the community and supporters of the cause, united at the start of London
Fashion Week, calling for justice as nobody has been held accountable for
the atrocity of the fire.
The 72 models, which included musician Emeli Sande, models Adwoa Aboah
and Clara Paget, activists Heydon Prowse and Jolyon Rubinstein and DJ Becky
Tong, lined up on the official London Fashion Week catwalk wearing ‘No
Death in Vain’ T-shirts designed by Grenfell Speaks and two young community
members at SpiltSquare Design to remembered and honoured the people who
died at Grenfell Tower.
Yvette Williams, Justice4Grenfell campaign coordinator, said in a
statement: “London Fashion week is a perennial event in the international
calendar and highlights the world talent, creativity and inspiration in our
“The fire at Grenfell Tower is the unfashionable side of London where 72
people needlessly lost their lives. Their deaths will not be in vain. We
are honoured to be part of LFW that will assist our campaign in keeping a
global focus on what happened at Grenfell and to support the bereaved
families in their continued fight for truth and justice.”
Image: courtesy of Justice4Grenfell by Jeff Moore
Edeline Lee champions the power of women
Rather than using her two-hour presentation slot to showcase her
collection in a typical salon-style format, Edeline Lee instead used it to
put a spotlight on women’s voices from across a range of different
professions, inspired by Professor Mary Beard’s seminal text Women and
Power (2017), a manifesto exploring “the public voice of women and our
culture assumptions about women’s relationship with power”.
In her show notes, Lee explained: “Fashion itself is an arena where
women are always seen, seldom heard. As a response, this immersive
presentation is conceived as a two-hour marathon of women’s voices.
“I design for the ‘Future lady’ – a muse that I invented to represent
what dignity, grace, femininity, and power look like on a woman of the
contemporary world. Fashion is always aspirational. In today’s world, what
do we aspire to?”
The presentation aimed to inspired with more than 20 women sharing their
personal experiences and expertise, including gold medal-winning athlete
Sally Gunnell, Professor Dame Jane Francis, director of the British
Antarctic Survey, CNN war correspondent Clarissa Ward, Meg Matthews,
activist and founder of Meg’s Menopause, UK beatboxer champion Grace Savage
and Brita Schmidt, executive director of Women for Women International.
Images: courtesy of Edeline Lee
Mother of Pearl highlights sustainable fashion
Mother of Pearl transformed the Fitzrovia Chapel into London’s most
fashionable ball pit, with more than 300,000 pearl balls surrounding the
models to represent the “plethora of microplastics that are deposited into
the oceans each day from the washing of synthetic fibres”.
To highlight the brand’s focus on natural fibres alongside its
commitment to cleaning up fashion, Mother of Pearl also announced that it
will be donating 10 percent of sales fo the rest of the month to a charity
that helps clean-up the oceans.
To further highlight the brand’s sustainable message they made the event
as circular as possible by renting everything to “create minimal waste,”
stated the brand on its social media.
As for the collection, creative director Amy Powney has been inspired by
Pretty Woman’s Vivian Ward with polka dots featuring heavily across
dresses, shirts and wide-leg trousers.
Image: via Mother of Pearl Facebook
House of Holland’s ‘Global Citizen’
Henry Holland plastered his catwalk with political posters and
manifestos for his autumn/winter 2019 collection called ‘Global Citizen’ as
he protested against building borders in the wake of Brexit.
“Picture a globe with no colours. No names, no measurements, because
life is not measured by miles,” stated Holland in the show notes. “Global
Citizen is a love letter to outspoken and the rebellious. For those who
cross borders, scale walls and show that creative inspiration cannot be
The British designer presented a utilitarian uniform of sharp, quilted
tailoring in neon orange Prince of Wales check, animal jacquard silks and
ruched shirts, for what he calls the generation who feel “increasingly
unheard, misrepresented and angry at the way their world is being
While the underlying message was political, the commercial collection
was centred around the strong, empowered and invigorated muse who is ready
to make a change, and for that she needs a tough but feminine touch, which
was seen in the velvet, printed ombre lace, chenille knits and quilted
nylon micro minis, all finished off with Grenson hiking boot and Che
Guevara inspired quilted berets from Noel Stewart.
Images: courtesy of House of Holland
Climate change campaigners protest at LFW
Activist group Extinction Rebellion brought London Fashion Week to a
standstill as models and protestors mingled in the street outside the
official British Fashion Council venue to urge the fashion industry to
“tell the truth about the ecological emergency and act on it”. The movement
then heading to Blackfriars Bridge to block access to the Burberry show at
the Tate Modern.
The protest called on guests to “dress as though you are going to the
most glamorous funeral” and wrote to the British Fashion Council in an open
letter stating that London Fashion Week was key driver of global trends and
asked them to use its “influential position to tell the truth about climate
change, as there would be a surge in popular support for climate action”.
The group states that the fashion industry is doing little to cut its
own greenhouse gas emission footprint, which it claims is the same size as
Russia’s, and highlighted that the industries practices of worker
exploitation, pollution, and unsustainable mass production are largely fed
by encouraging a growing trend of fast fashion, where people buy more
clothes, wear them less often and throw them away faster.
Image: courtesy of Extinction Rebellion