Fashion with a conscience

Tampons2ART students have drawn on current affairs to make political statements with their latest creations.

Priestley College’s Art Foundation students took inspiration from recent news stories as they explored whether fashion can have a political conscience.

One group tackled the ‘tampon tax’ with their piece – making a flapper dress from the sanitary items.

“When we found out that tampons were being treated as a luxury item and being taxed we thought it was ridiculous,” said former Bridgewater High pupil Isabelle Pennington-Edmead.

“We chose to make a flapper dress because the 1920s was glamorous and luxurious so it made a stronger statement.”

Priestley’s Art Foundation course is for students over the age of 18 who have completed A-Levels or the equivalent and provides the opportunity to explore their strengths and interests before applying for specialist degrees such as Fine Art, 3D Design, Textiles or Fashion.

It has a strong tradition of helping students secure places at the very best art schools and colleges including the Glasgow School of Art, De Montfort, UCLAN and the University of Westminster.

In the students’ brief, many examples of the fashion industry’s insensitivity and lack of sympathy, or knowledge, towards social and political issues were highlighted.

However, there were further occasions when designers used fashion as social commentary such as in 1906 when Paul Poiret freed women from the corset and the couturier was immediately hailed as a pioneer of the Women’s Liberation Movement.

In their assignment they were inspired by current politics, designers, photographers and political and protest movements of the past.

They were challenged to reinvent and upcycle everyday materials, clothing and found items to create their garments which were photographed for a fashion zine.

Ex-Bridgewater High School pupil Abbie Laidlaw said the project had made her think differently about what can be achieved with fashion.

“It’s great when something you have created works on a fashion level, but also makes a statement,” she said.

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