London Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2024 (LFW SS24) was not just a showcase of innovative fashion; it also emerged as a powerful platform for vital discussions surrounding mental health. In recent years, the fashion industry has recognised its role in raising awareness about mental health issues, and this season’s LFW SS24 stood as a testament to this commitment. Designers, models, and activists aligned to shatter stigmas and emphasise the significance of mental wellbeing. In this article, we dive into how several designers contributed to mental health awareness at LFW SS24.
Sinéad O’Dwyer: Redefining Body Standards
Sinéad O’Dwyer broke free from the conventional runway format this season. Her focus? The pressing issue of body diversity within the fashion industry, particularly the problematic aspect of sample sizes. Against the backdrop of the Royal College of Art, where O’Dwyer’s creative journey began, models elegantly walked the catwalk. During this showcase, O’Dwyer candidly shared her own experiences, delving into her battles with mental health and body dysmorphia, and her unique fascination with uniforms. She blended elements like hybrid shirt-leotards, thoughtfully designed to accommodate larger busts, with her signature knitted bodysuits, this time adorned with jewels and presented in vibrant colours. It was a collection and conversation that epitomised O’Dwyer’s unwavering dedication to driving positive change in the fashion world.
Ashley Williams: Unveiling the Beauty of Vulnerability
Ashley Williams’ SS24 showcase at London Fashion Week was nothing short of a poignant masterpiece, bearing her deeply personal connection to the realm of mental health. Williams, renowned for her unique blend of fashion and socio-cultural commentary, transformed her runway into a canvas for illuminating the often-stigmatised terrain of mental well-being. Her collection emanated a powerful fusion of vulnerability and resilience, with models adorning garments that conveyed messages of empowerment and self-acceptance. Williams, who courageously shared her own battles with anxiety and depression, harnessed fashion as a catalyst for destigmatisation, highlighting the importance of seeking help and nurturing a compassionate community. Notably, a number of pieces in Ashley Williams’ collection were reimagined in collaboration with 54 The Gate, a London arts centre dedicated to individuals with learning disabilities and mental health needs. Williams had been conducting a series of workshops with this organisation, channelling their creativity and unique perspectives into her SS24 collection, further amplifying the message of inclusivity and unity.
Williams’ also artfully incorporated the “crying girl” makeup trend, symbolising the unapologetic expression of emotions and the beauty in embracing your feelings. Ashley’s showcase not only celebrated her designs but also served as a poignant reminder that fashion can be a powerful medium for sparking vital dialogues about mental health.
T LABEL: Loving the Skin You’re In
T LABEL, the dreamy romantic-wear brand, invites you to rediscover the love affair with your own body. In the midst of the modern world, we often find ourselves disconnected from the very spaces we occupy. In their SS24 collection, ‘A Shell for a Human,’ T LABEL explores the human body as a shell and what Taylor-Bea Gordon’s (Founder and Creative Director) shell means to them. After experiencing her first panic attack last October before their show in Paris, Taylor found the sensitivity of our bodies and how precious they are fascinating. In her post-show discussion she said:
“I wanted to use the opportunity of showing this collection to be more honest about what it means to be a self-funded designer in this industry and the financial pressures of taking part in fashion week with small amounts of resources.”
With empathy and boundless affection, T LABEL guides us toward a rekindling of our connection with the physical world, reminding us our bodies are a safe haven where we can find solace and protection.
Mental Health Advocacy Beyond the Runway
LFW SS24 went beyond designers, with models and activists using their voices to champion mental health awareness. Adwoa Aboah, founder of Gurls Talk—a platform centred on mental health and wellbeing—took to the Burberry runway. Here, she candidly shared her own journey and experiences with mental health challenges, contributing significantly to dismantling the stigma surrounding these issues.
London Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2024 was not just about style and trends; it was a testament to the industry’s commitment to fostering mental health awareness. Designers like Sinead O’Dwyer and Ashley Williams showed that fashion can be a means of self-expression and a catalyst for positive change. Models and activists added their voices to the conversation, inspiring individuals to seek help and embrace their authentic selves. As the fashion world continues to champion mental health, it reminds us all that wellbeing should never go out of style. By merging creativity with advocacy, LFW SS24 set a powerful example for the industry and the world at large. In the seasons to come, we can expect more designers and influencers to use their platforms to address vital issues like mental health, proving that fashion is not just about looking good but also about feeling good from the inside out.