Fashion for Conservation is an organisation founded by three women with the goal of engaging designers and consumers to support endangered wildlife and indigenous peoples through their fashion choices. Whilst their AW18 showcase has admirable aspirations, it is ultimately let down by appropriative styling.
This season Fashion for Conservation has collaborated with two designers for the show: Kalikas Amour and René Garza for Magpies and Peacocks and, as the guests were ushered to their seats, the soothing sounds of this season’s Amazon rainforest theme echoed around the art deco venue of Freemason’s Hall.
Kalikas Amour offers bespoke evening wear and this collection, restricted to a black and gold palette, created luxury through texture. Sequins and lace covered sheer maxi dresses as well as tuxedos with exaggerated shoulders. Creative Director of the brand, Jatin Patel is conscious of unnecessary waste in fashion production, which can be easily limited for a bespoke brand as opposed to a fast fashion brand.
However, the adherence to the rainforest theme was slightly reductive, with the connection seeming to come from the peacock headdresses worn by the models, although peacocks are not native to the Amazon rainforest and actually originate in Southeast Asia and India.
René Garza for Magpies and Peacocks had crafted the garments from recycled waste textiles into sculptural pieces evoking rainforest flowers. As the first model walked down the catwalk I noticed her intricately braided hair at first with admiration. I held my breath as each new model walked by, hoping that there would be some other than the willowy white ones I was seeing, as if that would absolve the decision to appropriate cornrows for all the others. Finally, one black model did appear, although, ironically, she had her hair natural.
For an otherwise interesting and thoughtful collection, this was a huge disappointment. Given the media attention appropriative cornrows has had over the last five years; from controversies with Ke$ha, Katy Perry and numerous Kardashians – Kim only in the last month – it’s pretty shocking to see on a catwalk at London Fashion Week. So, if you you’ve been living under a rock for the last five years, or are just in need of a refresher, this gal-dem article and Amandla Sternberg video are good places to start.