SISTERS ARE DOING IT FOR THEMSELVES was not your usual fashion show, it was girl power done the Lewisham Way, literally. In late honour of International Women`s Day, PLACE/Ladywell, the colourful warehouse building home to nine pop-up shops all run by women staged a fashion event for the local designers.
The venue itself is owned and run by Meanwhile Spaces, a company offering affordable pop-up areas for start-ups and independent creatives in London, and organises other similar stages, such as Pop Brixton.
I arrived at the show a few minutes after 6 and was offered a drink from a selection of wines, bottled beers or soft drinks, provided free of charge by the local over the road. I spy another table in the hallway filled with various nibbles, crisps, vegetables, dipping sauces and even some type of scones, most likely prepared by the PLACE/Ladywell women who put the night together.
The runway is set up at the back of the ground floor behind the shop cubicles, sided by wooden benches for the spectators and decorated with stunning flower arrangements by one of the spaces vendors, Anne-Marie, a classically trained florist and owner of Anne-Marie Flowers. I, along with all other guests are offered raffle tickets to buy. The fashion show was about to begin as the benches filled up completely with ladies of all ages and a few men who came along. It was not your usual Goldsmiths crowd, and to be honest it was quite a refreshing change.
As far as I can recall, this was the first time I have personally experienced a local community stand up for and wholeheartedly support a community organisation that is exclusively run and mainly caters for women. It probably sounds cliche, but I am hopeful for the future of Lewisham in the fight against gentrification if the local residents continue to favour and support their own in such ways.
As for the fashion show it really was a celebration in many ways, the celebration of the women running their own businesses in the community spaces, the celebration of their talent and the celebration of the beauty of all women, regardless of their shape, age or colour. All clothes – some beautiful African fabrics – were products of the shops of the market space and they were all modelled by amateur models of all shapes, sizes and ages, including school girls and some of the shop owners.
All ladies were loudly cheered and complimented, making the atmosphere the most welcoming and positive I could imagine at a fashion show. I left happy, uplifted and with the satisfying feeling that I have, in the end, done something special for International Women’s Day, even if not exactly on the day.