The fashion industry is one which is often associated with excess, wealth and glamour. Our obsession and need for the latest trends generates billions of pounds every year and countless magazines, television shows and news headlines give the spotlight to new designers, models and industry executives.
Whilst saving our money and hoping that we will one day be able to afford that Mulberry bag, it is easy to forget just how lucky we are. Last year, on average 8 million children died from extreme poverty, mostly from diseases that could be prevented with just a little help and intervention. Imagine the good that could be done for impoverished children if their needs were given the same platform and spotlight as the fashion industry.
Well one 21 year old student took that imagination one step further and organised Fashion For Freedom; a charity fashion show to showcase new talent with all proceeds to benefit the charity, Save The Children.
The event itself took place on Friday 22nd July in London’s Studio Valbonne, located in the heart of Soho. What with this being the first fashion show I have ever attended I was, understandably, nervous and as I joined the queue of excited people outside the club I couldn’t help but feel that I had stepped straight into an episode of Ugly Betty. Everybody was dressed to the nines and looked as if they had come straight from a fashion shoot for Vogue. I, on the other hand, was wearing a fuschia dress that I had found in the Miss Selfridge sale and had just tripped in front of everybody whilst trying to negotiate the cobbled pavements of Soho in heels; not the best of starts.
Once the doors open it’s not long until the venue is packed out and the music provided by DJ Svitlo helps to get everybody into the party mood.
Rose Tinnis from Save the Children’s London office takes to the stage to remind each and every one of us why we are there. All proceeds from that night’s festivities will be going towards the charity and in aid of their new campaign: No Child Born To Die. We are shown a brief, but very moving video clip and Rose informs us that at Save the Children they are hoping to save 15 million lives in 15 years.
As an appetiser to the fashion show, the audience is treated to great performances from a belly dancing troop and a Burlesque dancer who goes by the name of Titty Bang; who performs with such confidence it is difficult to not be in awe of her. Hello Mexico, a London based band, is up next and delights us with a 15 minute acoustic set which includes a rather good version of Jay Sean’s Down.
The fashion show itself featured six young, up and coming designers and as the show gets started I am blown away by the quality of the designs. The truth is that you never know what to expect from these type of events but I would happily wear any of the clothes that were showcased on Friday Night.
First up to showcase her work is Zuzana Fukalova, a young designer from the Czech Republic. After moving to the United Kingdom to pursue a career in fashion, she was selected as one of the eighteen best new fashion designers in the South West and subsequently had her work showcased at the Fairfields Art Centre. Her collection for this event encompasses dark colours and textures to create a distressed look in order to express the distress felt by those children who live in war- torn countries.
Cina Ale is up next and her inspiration is a combination of western culture and African tribes. This is evident as the collection makes use of bright colours, dye fabrics and interesting textures. Her work is definitely one of the most eye-catching of the night.
Next up and debuting her ‘Happy Fall’ Collection is Nabel Martins. Having already had success with her ‘metropolis’ collection which was shown at Caracas fashion week, she moved to London to hone her skills and she now studies fashion at Central St. Martins. Nabel takes inspiration from the modern-day working woman and the ‘Happy Fall’ collection is aimed at the European women in the 21st century and use vibrant autumn colours as a key feature of these designs.
The last collection to take to the catwalk was designed by Deborah Courtroy. Having worked for other designers in the past, including Johanne Riss and Lee Klabin, this was the first ever fashion show to showcase her own work. I loved every single one of her designs and was definitely my personal favourite of the evening. Working from a ‘Less is More’ concept, the designs are simple, yet eye catching. Hot on the heels of the recent colour block trend a lot of her designs feature blue, yellow and grey; which I must say go very well together.
Speaking exclusively to LoveScene, Deborah spoke of what inspired her to take part in the event: “It was really nice showcasing my collection, but knowing that the benefits went to ‘Save The Children’ made it better! There is nothing like the feeling of doing what we like and helping others at the same time.”
In addition to the fantastic new fashion on show, guests were also treated to free, delicious cupcakes which had kindly been provided for free by Passionate Foods and were, incidentally, the best cupcakes I have ever tasted. Free glitter, henna tattoos were on offer from Lipstick and I got a rather pretty, blue, sparkly design on my right hand, which seemed like a good idea until I awoke the next morning with glitter all over my hair, face and pillow.
Some amazing gifts had been donated for the charity raffle including jewellery, a Blackberry and even a Swarovski crystal dress. The event raised £2000 on the night, with more donations still coming in along with an increased awareness for a great cause; all in all a fantastic night really.
The remarkable thing about Fashion for Freedom is that it was organised in just two months by 21 year-old accounting student, Syafiqua Noor Azman. Syafiqua spoke to Lovescene about what inspired her to organise this event: “I felt like organising a fashion show would benefit me greatly as I would be able to combine my personal interests of fashion and entertainment and do something worthwhile that can make a difference as well as have an impact on people’s lives.”
The fact that Fashion for Freedom was the first ever event that Syafiqua has organised is inspirational; she plans to re-locate to New York next year and I’m sure that we will hear more from her in the future. When asked if she thinks that the fashion industry could do more in terms of charity and philanthropy she added: “Although there have been a lot of designers and labels promoting great causes such as fair trade, not using size 0 models, as well as boycotting child labour etc, there is definitely room for improvement and a lot more space to raise awareness for plenty of great causes. There have been a lot of fashion events supporting various charities lately, especially smaller scale and independent events, but I think bigger scale productions and organisations, as well as the fashion industry as a whole should definitely support these sort of charities more in order to achieve greater and bigger impact on society.”
It is worth mentioning that everybody at the event, including the models, designers, hosts and the band donated their time and effort completely free of charge.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Fashion for Freedom and I hope that I get to attend similar events in the future. It’s always fantastic to witness somebody that has taken the initiative to help others but combine it with such a fun evening.
Perhaps the fashion industry could do more to help, on a larger scale. As Deborah says: “Fashion has the power to change things and change people’s minds!”
For any more information on Fashion for Freedom and Save the Children please visit: