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LCF celebrate International Women's Day 2021

A procession of women supporting women rights
  • Written byJ Tilley
  • Published date08 March 2021
A procession of women supporting women rights
Photography by Michelle Marshall 2018 processions

To celebrate International Womens Day 2021, we asked the women of LCF, to share who inspires them in the world of fashion. Who are the women that are the backbone of the industry? Who are the women that have often been overlooked or forgotten? Who are the women that have changed the course of the industry in their particular field? Who deserves a place in the top spot for our celebration of women?

Naomi Richmond-Swift – Director of Internal and External Relations

My woman of inspiration is Charlie Craggs. I wanted to pick an LCF graduate (who I first knew when she was a student) because I think that’s what makes our jobs special; how amazing and inspirational the students are. Charlie was an editor on Pigeons and Peacocks magazine during her time studying at LCF, then when she graduated out into the world she was suddenly everywhere, having started her brand Nail Transphobia, combining the glamour and fun of a manicure with education through conversation on trans issues, making allies and dealing with issues together in a safe space. I guess that neatly describes Charlie; deep thinking, deep discussing, but always glamorous.

She’s given a voice to those who may have been overlooked, and her frank and honest style has made her sought after all over the world. There were interviews, endorsements, a book… she is a success story, and she’s worked hard for it.

Rebecca Munro – Head of External Relations

The person that inspires me daily is writer and fashion consultant Aja Barber.  We met serendipitously on the way to the Copenhagen Fashion Summit and we spent hours talking about our shared love for fashion, but also the complexities and harsh realities of a system which exploits both people and planet. She is sharply intelligent, engaging and erudite in the way she questions the status quo. She has encyclopaedic knowledge of all aspects of fashion – from designers, new materials and the supply chain to complex issues around racism and intersectional feminism. Her voice has helped me re-frame many of the questions that we should be asking about who made our clothes and what we should demand from the brands that we invest in. She shines a light on what’s important for the future of fashion and how we cannot separate the issues from achieving social justice and equality in wider society.

Carmel Lally – Specialist Technician: Cosmetic Science

I would like to nominate Professor Danka Tamburic, who founded the ground breaking BSc (Hons) Cosmetic Science course and then developed it into an integrated Masters degree. She brought the industry trade association (CTPA) on board with yearly sponsorship for the course. She's highly respected in the cosmetics industry and because of her, LCF alumnae are to be found throughout the global cosmetics industry.

Susanna Cordner – LCF Archives Manager

I have chosen two women – one from the past and one at work now in the industry – who changed the course of the industry, specifically underwear design and its relationship to women’s bodies – their experiences and needs.

Roxey Ann Caplin, Inventor and Corset Maker - Roxey was an inventor who was based in London in the mid-19th Century. She designed corsets suited, she felt, to the lifestyles of modern women at the time and their bodily needs. She wrote books in defence of the corset and women’s agency in their choice to wear them, which included illustrations and instructions on how to exercise in your corset. She also set up gyms for women in London and Manchester. In her 'Health and Beauty' book from 1856, she argued that "the principal writers upon the subject of corsets have been medical men, who, great as is their knowledge of their part of the questions, certainly know nothing of ours."

Ade Hassan MBE, Founder of Nubian Skin - Ade is such an inspiration – as a businesswoman and entrepreneur who has built her brand from scratch, and as an innovator and a disruptor for good in the industry. Ade founded her inclusive underwear brand Nubian Skin in 2014. Nubian Skin addressed the racist lack of inclusive colour ranges in skin toned underwear designs, and challenged this by creating products and shades ‘in your nude’.Other brands have followed where Ade led – and, I hope, others will continue to do so – and she has brought about real and necessary change in the industry.

Claudine Henry – Technical Coordinator: Garment Technology

Anna Wintour - her contributions to the fashion industry.

Naomi Campbell - inspirational icon and top supermodel.

I also want to highlight sample machinists and factory workers - where would the industry be without them?

LCF alumna Bethany Williams – her contributions to sustainable design, social responsibility and women’s refuge.

Also, LCF's Claire Swift - for her contributions to social responsibility, Making for Change and Poplar Works.

Dilys Williams - Professor of Fashion, Design and Sustainability and Director of Centre for Sustainable Fashion

Having worked as a designer in the fashion industry for 20 years, and having worked in academia for 15 years, I have had the pleasure and privilege to work and to know some incredible women. Some are household names, others are incredible pattern cutters, sample machinists and make-up artists that are not well known. So my response is to give a huge shout out to all of the women in the fashion industry, from garment workers to high profile designers – you form the collective backbone of the fashion industry. Some of the women who have been able to flex that backbone are Katharine Hamnett, without her, I would not have had the backbone to set up CSF. Sara Maino, a truly awe inspiring woman who champions talent from around the world, greatest respect to you. Penny Martin, through Gentlewoman, fashion has a dimension that it can be truly proud of. Bethany Williams, who shows that you can, so does Phoebe English. Marie Claire Devau from Kering is a phenomenal woman, so is Helen Crowley, both honouring nature through fashion.

The millions of garment workers who have been left unpaid, unheard, unsupported by their bosses, buyers and governments through the pandemic.

Tutors and technicians (professional and otherwise) change the course of the fashion industry through their care, dedication, patience, skill, expertise, creativity and unwavering support of students who apply, adapt, take forward ideas that they have conceived in the workrooms of universities and colleges, homes and community centres around the world.

Darla Jane Gilroy - Programme Director: Craft

I grew up with a fashion model that was based on designing in obsolescence and fuelling continuous consumption the backbone of the industry are people who have fought to change that through embedding sustainable, equitable and socially just practices, Katharine Hamnett for being courageous enough to take the road less travelled in the 1980s to stand against greed and excess to create a road map for so many others to follow.

Angela Davis - From her segregated upbringing the southern states of America in the 1940s and 50s Angela Davis and Black Panther party member creating the 'look' of an 'activist' and gave a lasting visual currency to the civil right movement in America.

Julia Daviy - Her approach to fusing science, technology, ethical design and fashion to create an innovative approach to accessory design and manufacture by applying new thinking to the specialism has been a game changer in terms of the use of 3D printing to create wearable and useable products and Anifa Mvuemba the Congolese designer behind Hanifa, whose use of 3D renderings in place of models has levelled the playfield to expose new young designers to a global audience.

Professor Helen Storey - Professor of Fashion and Science

Rachel – her work creates new landscapes and the ground for sub cultures to arise, she was thinking of alternatives to shopping, years ago and everything she touches, creates human activity, which bridges industry, education and community. She is a place maker too, someone who asks the questions our future needs us to think about – what is fashion for now?

Beth – as she moves between accolades and the hard graft of living by what you believe in – her way of working is still new to many, but in a time when the rotten in the high street is finally falling, she presents a courageous alternative path that puts fashion in direct service to human need. Her work is the start of how society could be more connected and fairer - she gives fashion, purpose, she deserves more company.

Carla – a maker, a new community leader and a poetic witness of our recent times. It is a measure of any good designer to listen deeply to what the world is asking for, before making a mark and then to respond with what’s needed, what might bring joy, what might keep us sane – her on line community making circles bring people from all over the world together, to stitch, patch, crochet, talk, encourage, raise up, grow and inspire.

All three have something in common. They are just a few of some of our brightest graduates between 2015 and 2021, women who expect more from fashion, blow the word apart and encourage us all to raise our games.

We would love to know who inspires you! Join the conversation on LCF's Instagram.