“To every human in the struggle, man, I wish you well.”
The first two models appeared in silence, two isolated men in the cavernous Old Spitalfields Market. Then one of them lifted a microphone to his lips and began to speak. For this catwalk show, thumping bass was replaced by poetry – declaimed by the poets themselves, describing themes of dreaming, anxiety and the futility of wishes.
This was Shanice Palmer’s graduate collection, shown as part of London College of Fashion’s end-of-year presentations. Inspired by church best and struggling London youth, Shanice’s collection was a shimmering slice of streetwear, showcased on models who didn’t so much walk as “hood bop” across the runway. “We’re keeping it real tonight,” she told her models – including the two street poets – as they prepared for the catwalk.
Shanice described how she was moved by the pride with which women dressed for “their special day of going to God’s house”, and the strength of her friends who had to “make the most of a shit situation” growing up. Colours evoke the streets of London at night, providing a cool backdrop for the the incandescent, angelic gold of her oversized bomber jacket, which seemed to explode out from the dark greys, deep olive greens and shiny blacks. The contrast of her beautiful memories of church and the toughness of growing up in London is evident through her collection.
“Music inspires everything,” she says, expressing a desire to “strip away the beat to look into the words” of the artists. Witnessing her friends learning and growing through their own poetry created a desire to collaborate with a different art form to bring her collection a deeper meaning. The night of the performance, she says, she tried to let go and let whatever happened happen. Her poets were worried that they didn’t know how to walk like models, but she was confident of their swagger. For the designer, their poetry rang with the deep, bold voice of her pastor, the soft hymns of her church and her grandmother’s voice telling her about the joys of heaven.
For more on Shanice Palmer head to http://www.arts.ac.uk/fashion/student-life-at-lcf/student-voices/shanice-palmer/