To be fair, when I turned up at the Alternative Fashion Fest at Gorilla in Manchester I didn’t know what I was going to see. The clue was in the name of course and I’d seen that some of my favourite people were going to be taking part, Monster Cirque , THE Matt S and Amore Rocks so I had to go and check it out. Especially as the show was for charity. Profits were split between the Sophie Lancaster Foundation (working to stamp out hate crime and prejudice) and a local charity called Moodswings (Helping people recover from life’s ups and downs) both of which deserve support.
On walking in I felt bouyed by the positivity of the people buzzing around. There were all kinds of people of all walks of life, from young to old, from the conservatively dressed to the outrageous and all in between and you know, these folks were mixing freely and having a damn good time together.
My outfit for the night complete with elf hat and red stockings (you’ll have to imagine those. *L*)
Now, I’m not the most alternative looking person in the world.I’m not a follower of fashion and was ridiculed as a teen for my grown up choice in clothing (it wasn’t put so politely by those picking on me) which had a lot to do with my height, my size, the fact I had breasts and couldn’t fit in kids clothing from being about 11. I had an adult body and had to dress it in adult clothes. My daughter very much is an alternative dresser and she has her own unique style that I’m very proud of. I think we all should feel comfortable enough to wear what we want to wear when we want to wear it. And the Alternative Fashion Fest definitely agrees with that sentiment.
The show was amazing. There was cat walk shows as I expected but also mind blowing performances. It was never boring, always entertaining and most importantly always body positive. The individual beauty of every single person in that place was celebrated and that is what we need in the world today. Tolerance, acceptance and celebration of our unique differences.
I saw so many clothes to covet from show sponsors Didi’s Boutique , petticoats a plenty, Pyre Climber, Lindy’s Vintage Boutique, A Hat and a Beard (steampunk accessories), Offend my Eyes, Nicky Rockets and Amentium. Check out all the photos below. There was no boring ‘walk, twirl, walk back’ cat walking. There was dancing, there was strutting, there was celebrating and amazingly visual and entertaining adverts for these gorgeous items of clothing. Catering to folks of all shapes and sizes.
The models were all beautiful. What I adored was the patchwork of uniqueness. The models were all very different from each other (Hallelujah for that. Who wants uniformity? Not me!) but complimented each other wonderfully. You could see the camaraderie between them as they proudly strutted their stuff for tolerance and equality.
The most moving part of the night for me was when these brave, beautiful souls came up to the stage with a name written on the back of their simple, white Sophie T-shirts. Now where I was sat I could see them clearly walking up to the stage, so as they walked past I saw the name on the back of their shirts and each one made my heart contract. These beautiful people had endured evil bullying using awful labels that none of them deserved. Each wore their top proudly. Showing that they had become so much more than the bullies could ever have imagined.
On Stage we saw their beautiful, uniqueness and when they turned around we saw the nastiness aimed at them. I was in tears. I too have endured bullying based on my size and my faith. When I was a kid it was others picking on me for being a bible basher and in more recent years it’s been the church itself picking on me because I write erotica, thank God I found my church family who love me just as I am at St Aggies. I felt like I was standing with those models on stage. Forever labelled with words that hurt and wound but not held back by them.
We often say ‘Oh, kids are cruel’ but no, that’s not true. We live in a society that accepts bullying, that calls it banter, that envelopes it in so called ‘humour’ it pervades social media, TV, life and that is why kids are cruel because grown ups are and they see that and replicate it. I hope that the Alternative Fashion Fest goes from strength to strength and that the attitude I felt in there becomes not alternative but the norm, that people will not only tolerate one another’s difference but embrace them.
Not only were there clothes to covet (oh, so much coveting) there were amazing performances too. Things started out with fire and hula hoops and ended up with pretty ladies with snakes – perfect. There were performances from Harley Monsterr (Monster Cirque fame) and her bed of nails, MC Deviate with a rap inspired by Erin, a girl mocked and pulled down for the clothes she chose to wear but who has overcome that prejudice. There was a very funny song and dance routine from Condra, Some serious loudness from Reaper (loved the Abba song especially, lads!), Some astounding noises from Kimmy Beatbox (just her voice, awesome) and sweet harmonies from Molly and Ellie.
It was a night to cherish and remember. I had such a good time and can’t wait for the next one. I’m going to take my daughter (she’ll love it) and hell, I’m going to invite everyone I know because we all need to celebrate our unique beauty. Be proud of who you are, embrace others for their differences and in the immortal words of Ted Theodore Logan ‘Be Excellent to each other’.