Expression: What to expect from Durham’s Queer Fashion Show

Leather, lace and lessons in queer history, here is everything to expect from Durham’s most stylish Pride Month offering…

Setting Pride Month off to a fabulous start, Expression fashion show on the 8th June, 2024, is set to showcase the best of Durham University’s queer designers and creatives.

Created to be a safe space for self-expression for students in the LGBTQIA+ community, models, designers, and attendees are all encouraged to come dressed in whatever makes them feel fabulous! Where members of the community may feel concerned for their personal safety or made uncomfortable by others for their appearance and gender expression, the fashion show encourages attendees to feel that this is a safe space to wear what they like and celebrate.

Throwback photograph to Expression Fashion Show 2023.

With the money raised from the fashion show and fundraisers, Expression gives back to the community with profits not reinvested into next year’s show, going to help local queer-owned businesses and charities, including the Brianna Ghey memorial fund, set up in memory of the murdered transgender teenager, as well as local charity Moving On. Funds also go to the Designer Fund, helping with start-up costs and providing assistance to designers involved in the show, showcasing to the wider world the amazing talents of Expression’s queer creatives.

Moreover, funds from the show this year will be used to establish ‘The Trans Fund’, assisting transgender young people with financial support to change their names on legal documents, in a gender-affirming manner.

Entertainment for the night includes emo band, The Bitter End, DU Troupe, DJ Prochain, lip-sync by Luther and DJ Hayley for the after-party, representing a wide variety of queer Durham talent.

The show is set to consist of nine walks, showcasing Durham’s queer designers and creatives, whilst highlighting and interpreting through fashion key moments in LGBTQIA+ history. The walks are set to feature as follows:

1. Casanova

An exploration of bisexual icon, Casanova, designer Blanca Harrison, inspired by baroque literature and art, taking from tradition with traditional silhouettes and Catholic iconography, is set to illuminate the sexual exploration of the legendary, Casanova, himself, in the subtle sexuality of each outfit Harrison has designed.

2. Carmilla

Designer Ada Charytoniuk, reimagines the lesbian vampiric novella, Carmilla, where sensual horror and late-nineteenth century style meet, the walk is intended to reflect the ‘transformation that can take place upon discovering one’s queer self’.

3. You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me

From Elton John to Ziggy Stardust, there is set to be queer icons galore referenced in this walk designed by Charlie Armstrong, an homage to those who have come before in the queer community, expressing their gender identity and sexuality fearlessly on the world’s stage. The walk is also a reminder that the struggle is not over, that though paying tribute to fallen icons and pioneers, the journey continues to greater self-expression and liberation, looking back with admiration, yet forward with passion!

4. Pride’s a Riot

Designed by queer creative, Athena Kent-Egan, this walk embodies the origins of Pride, with the 28th June 1969 Stonewall Riots and the iconic Marsha P. Johnson. Kent-Egan takes us right up to recent years gender protest, taking inspiration from ‘Pussy Riot’, the Russian protest group known for supporting LGBTQIA+ rights there whilst often donning colourful balaclavas to complete the look. Kent-Egan says of the walk, “It’s loud, proud, colourful and camp and focuses on our ability to express ourselves and demand our rights.”

5. Satanic Panic

Turning ‘accusations of deviancy into a rallying cry’, designer Olivia Hornik, subverts moral panic around surrounding the queer community to produce a pagan-inspired show of resistance.

6. Leather and Lace

Not only the name of a Stevie Nicks song, ‘Leather and Lace’ also features as the sixth walk in this year’s Expression show, with designer Charlie Lloyd-Jones, celebrating how queer sex and kink often blurs traditional gender lines. Taking inspiration from both the traditional masculinity of leather and feminine, delicate qualities of lace, to “highlight the limitless potential when mixing gender and sexuality, while reminding the audience how unique and important queer sexuality is to queer culture.”

7. Rebirth of Venus

Forget Botticelli and his original ‘Birth of Venus’, Durham’s Expression Fashion Show, has Lilyella Stevens take on ‘Queer Rebirth’ in her walk. Embracing the queer feminine, we are told to expect, “floaty layers of organza, evoking the ever-changing hues and waves of the ocean”. Using maritime and oceanic themes, this walk intends to symbolise the constraints of heteronormativity whilst embracing your queer self.

8. Revitalize

Brought to you by designer, Clare Nicholson, the eighth walk of the show, makes an environmental stand. Highlighting the destructive nature of fast-fashion, Nicholson celebrates, “sustainability and the ability of the queer community to express themselves- no matter the situation or budget.” Taking second hand pieces and clothing the walk showcases queer individuality and reinvention at its best!

9. Children of the Earth

This ninth walk of the show, utilises the serene and natural to observe the diversity and beauty of the LGBTQIA+ community, reaffirming that being queer is, “a natural and intrinsic part if humanity, deserving of recognition and respect.” Each piece is set to reflect the model’s own cultural background, to emphasise the connection between their sexuality, cultural identity and position within the community.

Images courtesy of @durham_expression on Instagram.

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