The Leeds Rag Fashion Show, LRFS for short, is a much anticipated charity fashion show that is hosted annually at Leeds University Union. Every year the show takes on a unique, captivating theme but 2018 was a particularly special one. The show ‘TIME.LESS’ was a milestone, marking the 10th anniversary of this tremendous event, an annual one that has carried fashion and awareness into the city of Leeds through the foundation of passionate students.
TIME.LESS explores the journey of time, from history to the far future. The runway scenes were relatable in every way, representing moments people rather avoid, want to forget, cannot forget and want to relive. It also hinted at the direction the fashion industry could take in the upcoming years. Directors Jonathan Canizales and Nick Fola Egunjobi took the audience as well as the models and crew into a trance, confronting us all with how fluid time is and how a ticking clock affects us all. Exploring Birth, War, Peace, Death and RE(VIVAL/CYCLE/BIRTH), The Refectory was exported out of the Union and into a time machine.
Starting with Birth, the concept of purity was explored. The introductory scene also built suspense, teasing the audience of the unknown which would follow after. Nude tones covered the walkway, all emerging at a calm pace. This is what I would call a clean slate.
Suddenly, war broke out – a recurrent tragedy that accompanies humanity and unfortunately is marked in our history. Military outfits, bold poses, and a thumping bass turned heads, people’s attention and eyes all gravitating towards the centre of the room. The walk eccentric and dynamic, the audience inched closer to the models and further away from their seats as they were captivated by something dark.
Then came the calm: Peace. Serenity filled the air as the models walked amicably in white, some in fluffy textures and floral prints, other in silk. The scene was romantic and not just because the models were all beautiful. A true contrast and almost reward for the previous scene.
But then it got serious again.
Death. The most uncomfortable theme of them all, referring so directly to our inevitable end. The stylists did not just think plain black and blood; experimenting with gothic attire, metals, and synthetic materials, the clothing was much more than just ‘dark’. It was aggressive, provocative even, making us think back to the supported charities Leeds Mind for mental health and Dementia UK as life is not always pure and peaceful.
And finally, RE. The prefix to words like revival, recycle, rebirth, relive. I was fortunate enough to be a part of this incredible show, my second LRFS after Samsara last year, but I was simply lucky to be a part of the finale. RE was more than just an epilogue to a show. Carefully styled by talented stylists, individuality of each model was expressed, the clothes bringing out personalities rather than covering it. Inspired by Victoria Secret’s fun runways, it reminded the audience that despite difficulties depicted in the past scenes, there is always another chapter and always hope out there. The scene a party rather than a catwalk started off with confetti and ended with laughter and happy tears. The models dancing, not walking down The Refectory, infected the room with energy. A dance broke out to 24K Magic by Bruno Mars, making the crowd roar all the way to the end.
The LRFS is always an event to remember but this year, was particularly special. Supporting two charities that work on issues that affect thousands of people, the show raised awareness about how throughout life, history, and just in general: time, there will be hardships but there will be good as well. At times uncomfortable, at times overwhelmingly enjoyable, there is an infinite nature to the experiences we have because of their everlasting impact on us.
As my dear friend Mark said on Instagram: “LRFS is more than a charity show; it’s about diversity, putting the most unlikely of people together. People who then develop an undeniable, unwavering and unified support & care for one another. Backstage @ every show, every year, EVERY SINGLE person is rooting for you.”
And that is why I love LRFS and you should too.