RUNaWAY: changing the rules of fashion shows

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1 February 2017, St Salvator’s Quad. Under the portico of St Salvator’s chapel the whole team of Label is getting ready to start. First step: a photoshoot, followed by an unconventional défilé along the streets of St Andrews. We all know Label for being “an organization that runs body positive performances,” as written on their website, but more than ever their first fashion exhibition of this year made a statement about the fil rouge that connects all their projects: inclusivity. The title of this Flash Fashion event was self-explanatory, simply because there was no proper runway involved and the doors of the show were open to whoever passed by the Quad or Market Street.

Another innovative element of RUNaWAY, the first event that launched Label’s series of four fashion exhibitions, each inspired by one of the four elements (fire, water, air and earth, in the order of the shows), was the freedom given to the models to wear their own clothes, and therefore to pick their own outfits. Very few hints were provided: they had to wear red and black to reflect fire, the element of the day, and be rather formal, in order to stand out from the crowd in the middle of the day. Although this choice might have been risky, it fit perfectly with the concept of the event, with fire representing the passion of the models and fashion considered a medium to explore their individual identities.

What I could immediately understand by looking at the models was the fact that they were feeling completely at ease in formal dresses in the middle of the day, precisely because they had picked those dresses. Uniqueness and diversity were evident in their looks; for female models, some opted for a more typical combination of cocktail minidress plus sandals or stilettos, while others, considering the cold and rainy St Andrean weather, went for different types of boots. Moving to the male models, suits were almost compulsory due to the formal dress-code of the day; however, an interesting alternative provided by one of the models was the combination of a white shirt, a slim tie, and a burgundy cardigan matched with a classic but timeless overcoat. A personal favorite of mine was the look of one of the girls, a tight velvet little black dress combined with a see-through turtleneck and a fringed black macrame jacket, with a little plus given by her beautiful aquamarine hair which matched her makeup.

When I asked the models how they felt about having to individually decide what to wear, they told me that excitement was probably the best way to describe their feelings. In fact, it is quite unusual for a model to be so actively involved in a fashion show, or at least a conventional one. But there was nothing conventional about RUNaWAY. The empowerment that comes from feeling free to express who you are through what you are wearing is something that many detractors of fashion certainly underestimate. Once again, Label proved to be highly creative in the organization of their events, where everything revolves around giving individuals a platform to show themselves, with their stories and their personality, through that wonderful thing called art.

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