“People always think of fashion as mediocre and excessive. But this is real: now we are people who have the expertise to provide protection that can save lives. ‘This is the talking hat maker Noel Stewart, who I met on the phone when he was completing the latest batch of 1,700 visors, made by members British Hat Guild, which will be donated to London hospitals this week.
A real turnaround – you can say that again. The last time I saw Noel, he was backstage in Paris in Givenchy arranging his dramatic and sensational black floppy hat on a model that opened the show. It was March 2. Now, he is one of the London East End millmill forces who joined the national #VisorArmy, supplying essential face protection for frontline staff. “This appeared, and it felt like a guerrilla enough,” he said. ‘We are all within walking distance, so I can lower hundreds of foam and elastic strips that have to be cut, collect at social distances and then collect with the visor. Because we are all accustomed to speed and quality, this is something we can do with volume. ‘
Visor Army was started by ICU consultant Deborah Braham as a small Facebook group. Harvy Santos, an East End hat maker, has posted an Instagram video showing him dressed silly, in action, in his studio. “I occasionally appear to make people laugh – happy to laugh,” he said. But his post ended with a deadly serious appeal: a sign that led people to GoFundMe Make Visor Save A Hero a page that funds component purchases. “WE NEED MORE MATERIALS!”
Providing visors for frontline ICU staff – scrubs, surgical gowns, masks – and even funding for vaccine research: who knows that the industry is blamed for its superficiality, providing consumerism with narcissistic services and its damage to the planet will be very important for the community. weigh with a pandemic emergency service much faster than many Western governments? This is a phenomenon that has taken place quickly wherever you look: from designers, mega-brands and manufacturers to bespoke tailors, students, citizen volunteers, drivers – people who are involved in fashion everywhere in Italy, France and the US, and throughout the breadth of Britain.
They felt it came first in Italy, where news of Covid-19’s first case broke out in the middle of Milan Fashion Week. The response to the ongoing disaster in the upper echelons was for the most part very fast. Prada, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Moncler, Bulgari, Dolce & Gabbana, Chanel, Gucci, LVMH, holding company Valentino, owners Chloé, Ralph Lauren, Tiffany have all donated millions to local, international and UN efforts. Whether directed to remanufacture factories to make hand sanitizers and PPEs, or trigger the development of vaccines and medical research, the multi-branch collaboration of mega-brands in the fight against viruses has become new to normal so that the only question seems to be above them. whos not. I want to know what impact this time will have on our loyalty in the future: will we want to see social responsibility woven into what fabric we buy?
In Britain, the reaction is an extraordinary mirror aimed at the ingenuity and public generosity of the people who inhabit the fashion industry. What he shows us visually, in communities throughout the country, is how important it is to have local manufacturing, and the mass participation of many talents that are ignored. The impact is on all of us to feel: that we can no longer be an abandoned island, only dependent on foreign imports. “The reason we are in this mess is because everything is made in China,” Kate Hills said Make it English. “But it proves that there is a willingness there.”
On Burberry, volunteers who usually make trench coats in Castleford, Yorkshire supply the NHS with 100,000 pieces of PPE and increased. The company precedes government funding for all staff, contributes to vaccine research at Oxford University and directs voluntary salary deductions from senior staff and board members to international aid funds. In Somerset, Mulberry staff make dresses for Bristol Royal Infirmary, in response to direct requests from hospital ICU consultant Dr. Jess Webster.
But a bigger scene, repeated everywhere, is that fashion activists act independently to throw defense shields around local hospitals and care workers who are screaming for help with PPE. From organized citizens For Lulur Cinta, who recruit people with home sewing machines, to students who use patterns downloaded from Central Saint Martins, to designers who sell luxury clothing all over the world – all organizing directly with local hospitals after their voluntary offer falls in shame. deaf government ear.
That’s personal to many people. “I started working with Lewisham Hospital, because I was born there, and my mother and sister worked there,” said Richard Quinn, who now sends the most jazziest non-surgical printed scrubs to doctors and nurses who DM her from all over the country. He appears in a suitable mask made from cut-offs with each set. Meanwhile, Phoebe English, Holly Fulton and Bethany Williams were formed Emergency Designer Network, making ‘a hospital, but not a government-approved outfit, for support staff and caregivers’, with an army of 100 makers recruited quickly, including Simone Rocha, Roland Mouret, Emilia Wickstead and John Smedley, and launched a logistics network from scratch with the Net -A-Porter, Match and more. Their Go Fund Me page donations are used to free PPE which is very rare for ICU.
Surprisingly, national efforts depend to a great extent on British women who have overcome extraordinary obstacles that prevent them from ignoring the Government. Caroline Gration, whose daughter is the head of the ICU unit, was encouraged to put aside her daily work as the organizer Fashion School a children’s sewing program to organize sanitized and socially socialized production units to make surgical gowns from operating room curtains replaced for Royal Brompton Hospital, to patterns created by designers Julie Brogger. ‘People from all walks of life have volunteered – teachers, filmmakers, make-up artists. I think we’ve got the entire second floor Selfridges here. ‘
Among others are Michael Halpern, whose regular business is super-glam sequined flares, and Simon Holloway, English creative director of the Italian luxury collection Agnona, switching from handling countless fine cream camel cashmere to sewing plastic-coated fabric for the ward. The compulsion to contribute hit him when the Italian industry was locked. ‘As the scale of infection and death rates in London began to skyrocket, the horror of Covid-19 exposure from our NHS frontline team became clear. People are and are dying, “he said.‘ So it was an opportunity to take away my long-time inactive sewing skills. It’s rare that the fashion industry can provide direct support to life-threatening situations. Sewing here seems the most I can do. “
This state of emergency has revealed the goodness, resources and capacity for work that can bring hope to work throughout the UK. ‘People who have discovered new skills are now knocking on doors like they have never done before. “After this pandemic, I think fashion companies will look for local production,” said Kate Hills of Make It British. “There must be a long-term solution for manufacturing.”
What we have learned so far will be counted for the future of our country. This taught us the power of localism, about what can be achieved even when there is no central system that is responsible. It might even change the way we look at the clothes we wear and from whom we want to buy; even changing the reputation of fashion and the people who made it. Everything becomes visible. And in the meantime, history will record that fashion people have stood to play their part in fighting the biggest battle of a generation.
This is amazing, but simple, as far as Richard Quinn can see. “The sooner everyone helps,” he said, “the sooner this will end.”
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