In March 2019 I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with Eve Ensler and Annie Lennox at the AGM of The Circle NGO.
I have admired these women for many years – both for their artistic work, but more importantly for their activism. Eve Ensler in particular had a formative influence on me as I referenced her multi-award winning play ‘The Vagina Monologues‘ for my graduate collection. So when I joined The Circle as a member and was invited to spend an afternoon in their company I jumped at the chance.
A serendipitous moment
I was about to launch my new range of silk scarves featuring quotes by women in history with a percentage of sales benefitting the women’s charity Refuge. A cause I have been passionate about for years and again influenced by Eve’s own charity and advocacy work with V-Day and One Billion Rising. It felt serendipitous to hear them talk about women’s issues around the world, highlighting injustices but also offering solutions and action we can take to make things better for women and girls everywhere.
I mentioned my scarves and the thought behind them to the organiser of the meeting and she suggested that I bring one each for Eve and Annie. I was thrilled to do so and after the event had finished took the opportunity to gift them in person. It was humbling to see how down-to-earth and genuinely interested both these amazing women were. A very special moment for me.
Hearing about their courage in speaking out against inequality and proudly declaring themselves global feminists inspired me to do more and be more vocal about my own motivations for my work. Although I was quite bold with my graduate collection at university – drawing inspiration from feminist artists such as Judy Chicago and Eve Ensler – I have been more timid about it since. I think I was afraid that I would be seen to be unprofessional to draw attention to something that can be viewed as divisive. But being a feminist underpins who I am as a person and informs my creative approach to design.
I have always felt the hypocrisy about working in an industry that relies on the exploitation of women to function. From working conditions to unattainable beauty ideals it’s a difficult environment to navigate with my values in tact.
But I also see the benefits that style and great clothing can have. The opportunity it provides for us to communicate visually.
It’s one of the reasons I began working for myself. By creating bespoke women’s clothes I can stay true to my belief that there is no perfect size, only the perfect fit.
How do you feel about the fashion industry as a whole and your personal style in particular? Feel free to comment and let me know. I’d love to hear from you.