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RAG FASHION SHOW REVIEW

Updated: Mar 3


Review by Jo Beverley


The long-awaited Leeds RAG Fashion Show just premiered last weekend in a sold-out show spanning from Friday the 25th to Saturday the 26th. The event managed to raise over £19,000 in its two-day run for two amazing charities: The Racial Justice Network and Stop Hate UK. Not just that, but many of the clothes and materials used in the show will be reused and recycled after the event, fitting in line with RAG’s sustainability policy to focus on favouring environmentally friendly and recyclable alternatives.


The long-awaited Leeds RAG Fashion Show just premiered last weekend in a sold-out show spanning from Friday the 25th to Saturday the 26th. The event managed to raise over £19,000 in its two-day run for two amazing charities: The Racial Justice Network and Stop Hate UK. Not just that, but many of the clothes and materials used in the show will be reused and recycled after the event, fitting in line with RAG’s sustainability policy to focus on favouring environmentally friendly and recyclable alternatives.


The show itself was split into 5 scenes, along with a show-stopping finale that featured musical and entertainment acts.


Scene 1 was titled IGNITE, and it was a great introduction to the theme of the night, with bright, bold colours and glamours looks, this scene was one to watch. Starting with an introduction into RAG fashion, with a voice over by Creative Director Jameliah Adekunle (check out our pre-show interview with her here) and a poem reading setting the scene and rising tension for the upcoming event.


The outfits in this scene were alluring in their colour scheme and varied in their inspirations, some evoking glamorous western fashion with ruffles, flares, and corralled skirts, while the others had clear influences from African and Asian backgrounds. The theme of IGNITE was created as ‘a radical explosion that provides the catalyst to societal conversation’, and it certainly has done that. The attention to detail is what made this scene in particular stand out, from the details of styled edges and colour coordinated fits to the cohesion between looks. Though the bright colours of this section were sometimes lost with the dark blue lighting used for the opening of the show, the mood was set very well for an exciting evening.


Images of the show taken by Jo Beverley, Rebecca Harrison and Dacia Atputharajah.


The next scene (INSPIRE) begins with a continuation from the poem heard in Scene 1, which really comes into its own in this section with gripping lines that encapsulate the motivating theme of INSPIRE expertly.


“I believe hurt people hurt people […] You hold all the keys on all the locks on all the doors”

- Natasha Montisieri


Going from the colourful and eccentric first scene to a more natural, ethereal tone should have been jarring, but the smooth transition from poetry to the first model walking onstage was handled very well. The looks in this scene were earthy: green and brown tones, contrasted with pink or neon accents. The outfits were more cohesive than in others and evidenced the professionalism and skill that went into the Fashion Show. The lighting here was much brighter, in a neon green to fit the colour palette, and was paired with the artistic visuals of a walk through a forest on the screen behind the catwalk.





Scene 3 was EDCUATE, which threw the audience into the action with shouted protests from above, bringing the viewer’s eyes to the balcony above the stage that held the models with cardboard picket signs with various political slogans. This scene was the most politically weighty, with blatant references to discrimination of marginalised people, such as racism, immigration, war, sexism, and homophobia. The makeup and styling of this scene was much darker to fit the serious and complex subject matter, contrasted with the bright pink lightning. Each model then took the stage holding their sign, often stopping, and flashing the audience with the words to demonstrate their significance. While EDUCATE was clearly the most important and meaningful scene of the show, something could be said for the sometimes-simplistic method of writing an issue with words instead of trying to demonstrate it visually, though, as many cultural issues are still blatant in society, the scene seems to be evoking the importance of protest and speaking out against injustice, which is one of the main aims of the RAG Fashion Show this year. The scene notably ends with a video of political activist Angela Davis giving an impassioned speech about terrorism experienced against black people, ending with the chilling quote:


“I mean, that’s why when someone asks me about violence, I just…. I just find it incredible. Because what it means is that the person asking that question has no idea what black people have gone through… what black people have experienced in this country since the time the first black person was kidnapped from the shores of Africa.”





Following a short intermission, the penultimate scene, CHANGE began with a surreal dance performance by Issy Moore (@issymoore on Instagram) before jumping into the action with arguably the most dynamic looks of the night. CHANGE evidences the importance of immediate action against discrimination and prejudice in this age.





The final scene, EMPOWER, continues this idea to focus on unity over everything else to overcome societal challenges. This scene was accompanied by multiple performers: rappers dukeDomo and Draags (Dylan Goodacre-Taylor and Luca Vitale), who captivated the attention of the audience and moved around the stage and performers with ease; music in the Finale video by Ben Adamson and Jake Wrigglesworth; and drag queens @youronlydeville @canophanta and @ruby_the_drag_queen on Instagram, who owned the catwalk with sass and excellence. To celebrate the exciting end to the show, the models danced to the music down the catwalk, creating an amazing and upbeat energy that had the audience bopping in their seats. The show ended with heartfelt thanks to everyone involved in the show and a word from the charities that the show’s proceeds would go towards.





Overall, the show was a jampacked and engaging performance that educated and engaged its audience expertly. Check out the livestream of the show here if you missed it!


And don’t forget to donate if you haven’t already, using this link.


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