Twenty four students from CONEL's hairdressing and make-up courses worked with students from the University of the Arts London and other colleges from across the city, to produce the fashion show, Enslaved, at Late at Tate Britain on July 6th.
Leading designer and University of the Arts London graduate Romero Bryan, who counts Kate Moss, Beyonce, and Victoria Beckham among his clients, acted as a mentor to the students taking part.
The brief was to commemorate the 1807 abolition of the transatlantic slave trade and the student designers used fashion, hair and make-up to interpret the Enslaved theme. Exhaustive research into the slave trade, both historic and modern, provided the students with insights that informed their designs.
Enslaved is the culmination of ten intensive weeks of research, fashion, hair and make-up design at Tate Britain and London College of Fashion. Throughout the project the young people have worked with designers, curators, artists and stylists including Romero Bryan, Anissa-Jane, Mike Kaye, Desmond Murray, Martin Myrone, Sharon Robinson, Sam Walker and Zoe Whitley, as well as staff and students at Tate Britain and University of the Arts London.
Tate Forum, the young people's group that organises events to encourage their peers to visit Tate Britain, conceived the project. Enslaved involved collaboration between University of the Arts London, Tate Britain and Arts Aim Higher, to get young people to view university attendance as a real option.
CONEL make-up student Vicky Perry said, "The theme of slavery posed a real challenge for us - I didn't know much and was shocked by what I learned. For the designs, we thought of birds being totally free and how slaves would see them - it's such a contrast, the birds and the freedom that slaves never had. We used a feather motif across the eyebrows of the models and the fashion students added feathers to jewellery. Working on Enslaved gave us a real behind-the-scenes taste of the industry through the high-pressure environment of a fashion show. It stretched us and we all felt very proud of the achievement."
Ingrid Richards expected to work on styling two models' hair but was also called upon to do some finishing. "It was a challenge, very fast-moving but I loved it," she says. "It was exciting to work in a team of different talents, where all our creativity came together in one great show. I feel ready to take on anything now!"
Project Creative Director and University of the Arts London fashion lecturer, Angela Drisdale-Gordon, said, "The students learnt a lot about a terrible time in our history but they also learnt a lot about themselves and what it takes to break free of the low expectations heaped on them. They were inspired to commit to a very challenging project and turn something appalling into a positive, life affirming experience. These students now know what it is like to work in a university and a major gallery. They now know that their ideas and abilities are as valuable as everyone else's. They now know that they are capable of anything, if they apply themselves and believe."
Fashion designer Romero Bryan said, "The fashion show is a great way of celebrating freedom and liberation through the expression of art. Slavery was a starting point for this project that took a really unique look at the trade and interpreted it in an amazingly creative way."
- Last Updated: 20 July 2007