Norwich, United Kingdom (PressExposure) September 10, 2009 -- This year at London Fashion Week, a new initiative was launched to promote more diversity in the fashion and modelling industries. There is endless concern and debate about the restrictive nature of the high fashion industry, including issues of age, race and size. More and more people are trying to change this, and a group of them came up with All Walks Beyond the Catwalk.
The idea behind All Walks Beyond the Catwalk is "to expand upon the imagery coming out of London Fashion Week and mirror a more realistic range of women, in age, size and race, than standards currently offer." The idea was founded and directed by fashion writer and broadcaster Caryn Franklin, fashion consultant Debra Bourne and model and co-founder of Model Sanctuary Erin O'Connor.
All they needed was an array of different models, some great designers and an award-winning photographer who would be willing to work for the cause. With backing from the British Fashion Council, eating disorder support charity BEAT, and sponsorship from companies including Marks & Spencer and i-D Magazine, they launched at the 25th London Fashion Week.
The models were aged between 18 and 65 and were sizes 8 to 16. Designers included Mark Fast, William Tempest and Hannah Marshall, who all created bespoke versions of their spring/summer 2010 collections. It's obvious that every person involved believes that this is the type of work we need to see more of in the fashion industry, and there are many positive testimonials from the designers, models and supporters.
"Young people are inspired by fashion and influenced by its ideals," states Susan Ringwood, the Chairman of charity BEAT (beating eating disorders). "By offering up these wonderful images of diverse beauty, we know that fashion's influence beyond the catwalk can be seen as a positive force in young people's lives."
"London Fashion Week is all about celebrating British brilliance, and All Walks Beyond the Catwalk is a chance to be proud of British beauty," says, Sarah Brown, wife of the Prime Minister. "It brings together models of all colours, shapes, sizes and ages in a dazzling array that looks gorgeous - because it looks like Britain. It's a reminder that true style and glamour know no boundaries."
All Walks Beyond the Catwalk was launched through a photographic exhibition of the models and designs during London Fashion Week. You can see some of the shots on the All Walks website. It's just a shame that it was a one-night, invitation-only event. Surely more accessible exhibitions will happen in the future.
One designer who is involved in the initiative makes a great comment about the role of models in the fashion world. "It's been wonderful to make a connection with the woman who will wear my design," says Georgia Hardinge. "A model isn't just there as a walking coat hanger."