Last night Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex, Patron of LCF, hosted an evening reception at Buckingham Palace to celebrate ten years of Better Lives at LCF, encapsulating projects that use the power of fashion to tackle issues around equality, social mobility, diversity and sustainability.
Industry guests at the event included Emmanuel Gintzburger CEO of Alexander McQueen, Felicity Hayward, Nicholas Kirkwood, Christopher Kane, Giles Deacon, Phoebe English, Virginia Bates, David Downton, Justine Simons, Deputy London Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries, Geoffroy de la Bourdonnaye CEO Chloé and Vogue’s Suzy Menkes; who were all out in force to celebrate and support pioneering work in sustainability and social responsibility.
During the reception HRH The Countess of Wessex spoke about her commitment to the college – which began in 2013 – and her dedication to projects such as Making for Change – a training and manufacturing unit within HMP Downview women’s prison which aims to increase well-being and reduce reoffending rates amongst participants by equipping them with professional skills and qualifications within a supportive environment. HRH said:
What I love about the college is that it isn’t just about educating young people to create business opportunities, to create careers in and around the fashion industry, it also is an outward facing college and it takes its responsibilities very seriously. To give female prisoners the chance to come out of prison with a genuine job opportunity is a wonderful thing to do, and I’m thrilled that the college is working with recovered female prisoners. So, that’s just one example. And, of course this is just one part of the Better Lives programme. That, alongside sustainable fashion, which is becoming more and more prevalent. But we still have a lot of work to do and the London College is taking its part very seriously in ensuring that students are aware of how to sustain fashion and keep it on the agenda.
The audience were given an insight into the future of the college – talking about the historic move which will see all six of LCF’s sites united for the first time in its 112 year old history, on one purpose built campus in the Queen Elizabeth Park in the heart of East London in 2022. The development will be part of the vision for East Bank – a new cultural and educational destination for London. LCF will be joined by neighbours including the BBC, Sadler’s Wells, V&A and University College London and Loughborough University.
Under its new roof the work of the college and it’s ‘Better Lives’ agenda will continue to flourish and will be more vital than ever in a rapidly changing world – a rallying call to industry was made to ask for their continued support in nurturing the next generation of fashion professionals who pass through the doors of one of the world’s leading fashion colleges.
Head of LCF Professor Frances Corner also spoke at the event and reflected on how far the college had come – helping fashion as a discipline to extend and expand its influence, countering traditional stereotypes of fashion as a lightweight subject and how over the past ten years, the college has redefined its agenda, placing sustainability and social responsibility at the heart of what they do.
During the reception guests were able to see installations of work by artists Charlotte Hodes, Lucy Orta and Helen Storey – each piece telling stories through fashion around women’s suffrage and the current refugee crisis – projects which demonstrate that fashion is more than clothes and catwalks – but a powerful force for positive change.
All images by Unai Matteo Lopez