Birmingham-born designer Osman Yousefzada joined the small but growing number of designers who forgo the traditional runway in favour of more creative and / or sustainable options. For his London Fashion Week presentation, Yousefzada collaborated with the Whitechapel Gallery and Livia Firth to screen his film Her Dreams Are Bigger.
The provocative art film aims to highlight the importance of sustainability, the harsh reality of fast fashion and the global concepts (or misconceptions) of beauty. The London-based designer says the idea for the film germinated on a trip to Bangladesh, where he showed a suitcase full of discarded clothing from British charity shops carrying the “made in Bangladesh” label to women who worked in the industry.
“These women were cogs in a wheel and would never have been allowed to try on the clothes they had made; it was heartbreaking to watch them. Although these clothes were cast-offs, they had a real respect for them, folding them neatly and packing them away afterwards,” the designer told The National in 2018, soon after screening a part of the same film at the Being Somewhere Else exhibition at the Ikon Gallery in his home town, Birmingham, England.
“They sat in a circle and started to try on various pieces, taking selfies and posing,” said Yousefzada, himself the son of working-class Afghani-Pakistani parents who migrated to Birmingham in the 1970s. “I asked them to imagine who their muses were.”
Some of the responses he got – and went on to capture at the London Fashion Week Screening – were: “They are tall”; “They look beautiful”; “Their hair colour is red”; “They wear different types of dresses which makes them look more beautiful”; “They eat different kinds of food, they only eat fruit, they eat frog, they eat different kinds of snake”, “They’re not black like me, they’re much fairer and very pretty”; “Beautiful faces, their lips, they are like dolls”.
“The women who make clothes don’t really know who they are making them for,” added Yousefzada. “They don’t wear those kinds of clothes, clothes that are put on ships and then offloaded halfway around the world to wind up in high street stores. That’s fast fashion.”
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