Uon’s Fashion Society: A Beautiful Take on Escapism

Light coming through stained-glass window in a church
Vivika Sahajpal

Rooted in self-expression and breaking barriers, Uon’s Creative House embodied the imagined concept of escapism in their incredible display of innovation and sustainability portraying complex themes, cultures and attitudes through this exquisite demonstration of fashion, music and emotion. Led by Joshua Nqo Jerenyama and Sara Coombe, the talented team of cast, crew and stylists created a thought-provoking exploration of their multifaceted theme.

Taking place in St Mary’s Church in the heart of Lace Market, the light streaming through the stained-glass windows and the high ceilings only enhanced the atmosphere of anticipation and mystery created by the perfectly chosen music that accompanied each look. The musical director Esther Sule-Odu’s contribution enriched the audience’s experience of every aspect of the show- from the suspense built between different looks, to the influence it had on how each look was interpreted and interacted with, challenging perceptions and inviting new perspectives.

Throughout the show, the audience was taken on a journey through not only the fashion itself but the singing performance and spoken elaboration of escapism that took place in the interval, keeping the minds of the audience constantly immersed in the ambience of the show and venue. The diligence that had gone into ensuring the success of this show from a dedicated team of runway crew and over sixty stylists and models was apparent in the professionalism and attention to detail in every element.

The looks themselves were incredible at illustrating the different approaches to the theme of escapism, tackling it in relation to culture, identity and the fashion industry itself. The models were extremely skilled in demonstrating the characters they were portraying whilst still allowing the outfits and design to be the focus of the performance. They each told a distinct story whilst still leaving the contents of that story up to interpretation, therefore, guiding each member of the audience through their own journey surrounding escapism and liberation.

The show demonstrated the way fashion, for some people, acts as an escape from their lives, pressures and circumstances allowing them to become someone or something else, even if only momentarily. It demonstrated the possibility of this with every look whilst displaying an amazing array of pieces and concepts creating constant cohesion whilst celebrating diversity throughout the show.

The show personified the need to escape

The theme of escapism was reflected in each look with pieces that connoted it in different ways; with the use of belts, masks and harnesses and other restrictive garments, the show personified the need to escape while contrasting it with outfits that revolved around the versatility and flowing style of the pieces that they were made up of. Alongside this, some of the looks were influenced by the fashion of cultures that had historically been excluded from the industry, embodying the theme of liberation in yet another way.

With outfits that defied societal norms and broke barriers of conventional fashion, the stylists created looks that were meticulously constructed to paint beautiful narratives. The use of creative forms of make-up and body art like gold body foil and winding vines and flowers brought each look to life assisted by accompanying headpieces and accessories that once again added to these detailed narratives. The simplicity of some of the looks balanced the elaborate nature of others allowing the audience to conceptualise them in different ways and relate to each of them individually.

This show demands a different approach that defies the negative effects the industry can have

An important focus of the show was the emphasis it put on bringing sustainable fashion to the foreground and demonstrating the way innovative, barrier-breaking looks can still be created using clothing sourced from second-hand clothing platforms and other sustainable methods. As an industry which massively contributes to environmental issues and can propagate harmful stereotypes and ideals, this show demands a different approach that defies the negative effects the industry can have.

This important shift in mentality around fashion challenges the idea that fashion has to be expensive and exclusive and instead creates an inclusive, creative and liberating community. Each layer of this fashion show displayed the theme in a different way with the looks themselves and the ways they were created playing a key role in the representation of the theme. Every component helped immerse the audience in a fascinating discovery of what escapism could mean.

Vivika Sahajpal

Featured image courtesy of Nenad Spasojevic via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

In article images 1 courtesy of @uonfashionsociety via Instagram. No changes were made to these images.

In article image 2 courtesy of @nqothecreator via Instagram. No changes were made to this image.

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