Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
On Saturday night, I walked into Unit 1 at 6:45 (truly the earliest I think I have ever set foot there), excited for a night of fashion. The main dance floor had been filled with chairs, set up to include a runway right through the middle. We took our seats, second row from the front – the front rows were reserved for the designers responsible for the garments we were about to see grace the runway (this was the moment when I felt like I really was at a real fashion show). The Re:Claimed Fashion show, put on by Exeter Fashion Society, aimed to showcase local and student ethical, sustainable brands with a focus on celebrating the diversity and creativity of the sustainable fashion industry. The show promised a celebration of fashion’s creativity, as well as performances from URBN Dance, Pole Fitness, Breakdance, Dance Society and Mishaal Javed.
Keeping in line with their focus on sustainability, the dress code for the evening was ‘Green Tie’. The society challenged its attendees to dig out their old finery and re-wear something they already owned – essentially, Black Tie without the carbon footprint. All the normal stress of finding the perfect outfit was gone and I was able to relax knowing that all I had to do was search my own wardrobe, rather than the shops. We should all outfit repeat more often, seriously.
Image Source: Exeter Fashion Society
Sitting in the audience as people took their seats, I still wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I was worried that, despite all the focus on diversity, as soon as the models started walking it would be lost. I really shouldn’t have worried. As soon as the show started, the diversity of both the models and the clothes shone through. The models walked down the catwalk with ease and confidence, enjoying every step of their time in the spotlight. It was so refreshing to watch a catwalk with such a range of models, and it made me that bit more interested in the fashion on the runway.
As for the clothes? Wow. The models walked out in t-shirts, loungewear, athleisure, embroidered jeans, fifties dresses, jumpsuits and mini-skirts that would make Cher from Clueless jealous. There was a beautiful mix of clothing, as well as a lovely number of pieces that could easily be worn by everyone, regardless of gender. Every time a new model walked out, I found myself gasping at the outfits. On one occasion, a model walked out in an embroidered waistcoat that instantly reminded me of Rachel from Friends in her waitressing days, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. It was truly spectacular. There also has to be a special mention to the makeup and hair, which worked so well within the whole show. Models wore deep red eyeshadow, as well as statement pink blush, glitter and hairclips. It gave the whole evening a distinctly high fashion edge.
Image Source: Exeter Fashion Society
There were a few awkward pauses between performances, but these were forgotten as soon as the performances actually began. I wasn’t sure how the performances would fit into the show and was slightly worried that they would take attention away from the focus of the show. But instead of distracting from the focus, the performers (dressed in the clothes that had graced the runway not moments before) showcased the versatility of the outfits, their dynamic performances giving the audience the chance to see the way the clothes moved. What I loved most was that each society wore clothes which reflected the tone of their performance and allowed for all the different styles to shine. One of the standout moments of the night, though, was the performance by Mishaal Javed. Walking onstage with an air of cool confidence, she effortlessly captivated the room. In comparison to the runway at the beginning of the night and the performances after, Mishaal Javed’s performance was incredibly stripped back. Despite the simplicity, her performance perfectly complimented the minimalistic fashion which we had seen earlier on the runway, and it worked incredibly well.
Notwithstanding the incredible clothes and performances, what truly made the night so special was the passion and commitment from everyone involved. Their hard work really shone through and it made the entire evening feel so much more personal. Their creativity showed that fashion can be even more fun, vibrant and exciting when it comes with a diverse and sustainable edge. Clothes are meant to be fun – they are meant to be experimental and individual. Most of all, they are meant to incite confidence in the wearer, bolstering their own creativity. The Re:Claimed Fashion Show managed to capture the multifaceted joy of fashion, with the varied clothes and styles showing that there is never one way to be stylish, but that sustainability and diversity will never go out of fashion.
– Ruby Jackson
Featured Image: Exeter Fashion Society