Fashion: labelled with love: Rifat Ozbek asked designers, milliners and stylists to make a panel for a quilt in remembrance of those lost to Aids

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Rifat Ozbek is one of Britain's brightest fashion talents. But his life has been changed by loss. Two of his closest friends have died from Aids-related illnesses.

Stevie Hughes was a fashion photographer, known professionally for the high-voltage glamour of his pictures and famed among his friends for his wicked impressions of the supermodels. Tina Chow, model, mother, restaurateur, was an icon of style, the epitome of elegance.

When Ozbek went up to the podium to collect the coveted British Designer of the Year title for the second time in 1992, he held up his trophy and dedicated it to Stevie. But he wanted to do more to ensure that those whom Aids had taken from the world of fashion would not be forgotten.

He contacted international designers, milliners, shoe-makers and stylists and asked each one to submit a six-by-three-foot panel dedicated to a talent lost. The result is Quilts of Love, a collection of panels, which will be displayed in London's Hyde Park a week next Saturday and Sunday, 4 and 5 June.

Some individual quilts have heartfelt tales of lost friends behind them. Others express rage at all the lives lost. And some quilts are missing; a few designers whose bereavements are still too recent are not yet ready to commit their grief to cloth.

The panels will be placed together in the park. Their purpose is both to mourn the lives lost, but also to commemorate and celebrate those talents who once staked their place on fashion's global map. That - and to tell some of the stories behind the stitches - is our purpose in dedicating this week's fashion page to Quilts of Love.

Christian Lacroix, for Gilles, a friend.

'Gilles' passage in this world was brief and I really never understood why, but on a sunny day in May, Aids grabbed him from painting, from his family and friends, his town, music and life. I remember that I'd sell my soul to the Devil but the Devil seemed to prefer Gilles. So Gilles, wherever you are, I hope this 'rag letter' will reach you. Here, your bike and paint brushes are still in the same place, Rock 'n' Roll didn't get older, the Dordogne river flows and we try to live. Love will win.'

Ozbek, for his friend Stevie Hughes, photographer.

'Love, Streisand, Bowie, Glam rock, Techno, Amsterdam, Meisel, Ecstasy, Men, Women, Fashion, Health, Sushi, Grand Marnier, Greece, Morocco, Johnny, Disco, Nature, God, Aries, New-Age, Beauty, Star, Pope, Mum, ANGEL. Miss you lots.'

Blahnik, for his friend Tina Chow.

'The quilt is exactly what she represented to me and to herself. Tina was total elegance, from the inside. Her name is spelt out in her logo and I've signed it Manolino, for she always called me that. Nadia Lavalle was her friend, too. She embroidered our quilt and signed it with me.'

Armani, for all his colleagues and partners in the industry no longer here today.

'I have always privately endorsed projects that have been in connection with Aids

. . . it was important to me to become involved in this project. I think it is the duty of those responsible for the aesthetics of the world to help increase public awareness of Aids.

Mugler, for Salvatore Lampo, a stylist from the Mugler studio.

'Salvatore, we still love you, we miss you, but in this way you're still here with us. The quilt is for you.'

Richard Dawson, our good friend, by Richard Nott and Graham Fraser of Workers For Freedom.

'Richard always sent lots of postcards. We thought the quilt should be like a postcard. He loved black and white photography so we did it in monochrome. Not wanting to monopolise his memory and remembering how he loved flowers, we asked some of his friends to make flowers for the quilt. On 7 April 1994 we all stitched the flowers around his name.'

Oldham for Perry Bentley, a friend.

'Perry Bentley always will be a source of inspiration. His clever ways, his charm, his remarkable taste and his deep appreciation of the tasteless will fuel my creativity for ever. I miss him.'

Margiela, a collective tribute.

'We put the names of all our lost friends, because unluckily they became several.'

Price for his friends Paul Chandler of the West Indies and Nelson Davey of New Zealand.

'My quilt shows an incredibly beautiful angelic boy because Paul and Nelson were both rude, great looking boys and I'm not trying to paint them as straight. Paul was the Caribbean queen, fabulously handsome and an excellent artist, with his jaw always held high. Nelson was dedicated to work, gorgeous in that floppy-haired antipodean way. I heard he'd died in Australia. This is for them both.'

Tanya Sarne of Ghost for Jacques Buisson, French retailer and friend Jacques Buisson was a larger than life person, warm, emotional, sensitive, caring and fun. He was the best kind of friend and will not be forgotten.

Michelle Stein of Alberta Ferretti, for her soul mate Ed Riley

I met Ed in '78. . .we were both fresh faced, filled with enthusiam and ready to conquer New York, if not the world. Ed went to work for Halston (and) often invited me up to Olympic Towers where he worked and where all the beautiful people came to visit. Ed Riley was a sweet Southern boy. . .we came of age together in the wild years of New York - through the Disco madness of the 80s to the New Age spiritual awareness of the 90s. Ed was my best friend and my closest collegue for over ten years. . I cannot accept that Ed is not here with me every day. . .How could such a beautiful spirit be extinguished in such an unnecessary way in the prime of his life?

Valentino, for children.

It is unreasonable that children suffer, always, and even more for this cruel disease. I cannot accept it.

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana for lost friends.

For our quilt we put together different pieces of fabric that, in a symbolic way, stand for all those who are not among us anymore.

Patrick Robyn of Ann Demeulemeester, for Robert Mapplethorpe, photographer.

When I first met Robert in New York, I gave him a card with my name and telephone number. He said that he didn't have a card but he intended to have one printed; a black card with a little hole in the middle. That's why I made a black memorial quilt with a hole in the middle.

Nick and Barry Kamen, songwriter and painter, for Ray Petri, the pioneering stylist of the 80s and creator of the Buffalo movement to which the brothers were central.

As we were making the quilt, we kept asking 'what do you think, Ray, do you like it?' as we made it. The base is camoflage fabric because he was very much a soldier, then there's orange because he had a buddhist monk's temperment and deep blue cotton next to crisp white cotton because he was a gentleman. The quilt says it more simply than words.

Helen Storey, Quilt for an unknown child

From somewhere deep inside an unfairness unjustifiable rages. A rage for the painful passivity displayed on the faces of children for whom life is defined by disease. An agony enough for those who have experienced existence before 'it' - a seemingly godless earth to allow a Being, unable to shape its own destiny, this experience of life.

Philip Treacy, a general dedication.

My quilt isn't dedicated, fortunately I haven't known anyone who has died from AIDS. But I met someone a month ago whose partner is dying and I thought, How must he feel, how harrowing for boyfriends, girlfriends, family, for everybody. Death, for whatever reason, touches us all.

Stevie Stewart and David Holah of BodyMap, for Stevie Hughes, photographer.

It's for Stevie and he'd like it. It's based on a photograph of him in drag at at one of our shows. It's personal, but it is hideous to think how many other people we could have deidcated the quilt to, how many others we have lost.

Isaac Mizrahi.

I dedicate my quilt to life, hope and miracles.

Ralph Lauren, for Angelo Donghia, late of his design studio

I am honored to memorialize Angelo Donghia's talent and great personal style by participating in this project. He was one of the most gifted designers and his untimely death is a loss to us all.

Bill Blass, for Jack Congleton, company account executive.

Jack was an integral part of our organization. . . One person remembered Jack for his sense of humour. .albeit a little wicked at times. Another spoke of Jack's easy elegance. .both in dress and general air. It is our sincere hope that his memory will blaze brightly with this panel for the world to know him as we knew him.

Joe Casely-Hayford, for everyone lost.

The idea behind my quilt is to show that all life is sacred, whether it be someone living in an isolated part of Africa or a high profile celebrity. Equal respect and support is essential. .

Katharine Hamnett,This quilt commemorates all the unmourned throughout the world, and their families and friends.

Wise before our time. This is to symbolise the way we all are living today. We have to 'wise up', not take anything for granted any more.

(Photographs omitted)

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