LABEL: a body positive and inclusive take on fashion

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Label’s motto is to celebrate ‘beauty with a difference across gender, sexuality, physical diversity, and mental health.’ ‘OK. Nice idea’, I thought, reading the press pack with a cup of coffee, an hour before the show started. But the next thought that crept into my head was how on earth would the organisers manage to pull off a celebration of diversity through a fashion show, a type of event which by its nature is inherently focused (rightly or wrongly, you decide) on homogeneous standards of beauty, and that item of clothing or pair of shoes or bag, which, at a given moment, is ‘in fashion’ – I know, you do not need me to tell you this.

So it seemed an unusual choice for a method by which one might celebrate inclusivity – a noble cause, and valiant effort may it have been, nonetheless.

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Indeed, rather than celebrating each model’s individual style, or showing their individual take on a theme e.g. beachwear etc, which might have worked better, and indeed did with the final formalwear parade, the whole thing instead just became a selection of people in no particular order, wearing some form of jeans and T-shirt, for the most part.

One of the models had been quoted as saying “We’re establishing individuality” – I didn’t see any of the celebration of what made each model individual, and that…to be frank…is the organiser’s fault. In this respect, they let the models down. The philosophy behind combining the idea of equality and inclusivity (whilst commendable) with an inherently elitist kind of performance art was fundamentally flawed. In fact, it was hypocritical that in a show that promotes self-love and external acceptance no matter one’s looks or body shape, that the first boy to remove his shirt was coincidentally the most conventionally good-looking and the one with the best body.

One of the models, in their background voice recording, played over their walk down the runway, talked of using “Queerness as a positive label”. And here I was in my ignorance, standing there thinking that once again, the whole point in inclusivity is that people shouldn’t feel the need to use such terms or label themselves as anything at all.

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Having said all of this, the passion, commitment and drive of the models was clear and their individual talent in looking beautiful was second to none. I was thoroughly impressed. It was incredibly refreshing to see people with little or no modelling ” The whole point of inclusivity is not having to label yourself at all Photo: Jamie Ciardi experience standing up and bearing themselves to the world with such confidence and vigour. I can only applaud them for this and for their promotion of an extremely noble cause.

They were confident without being conceited and sassy and funny without being arrogant. Simply perfect. My hat goes off to them for their efforts.

I do feel for the models, as they were let down by a flawed concept which failed to allow them to showcase everything they potentially had to offer.

All in all, despite being an honourable effort to promote the fantastic concepts of individuality and inclusiveness, rather than doing this neatly in the form of allowing each model to showcase a talent or show how something they see as being ‘imperfect’ about themselves doesn’t hold them back, the medium of a fashion show created a strange paradox which could have been so much more.

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