ANOTHER VIEW : Real message of fashion

Wayne Hemingway, Red or Dead
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The Independent Online
Red or Dead has never sat on the fence and has always believed that high fashion should not be restricted to "ladies who lunch". It may come as a shock to some fashion editors but many people without big bank balances are interested in fashion. For many involved in the industry, fashion is pure narcissism but to an increasingly large socially aware generation, the clothes you wear portray your feelings and personality.

In Red or Dead's headline-grabbing catwalk show as part of London Fashion Week last Saturday, models carrying blood-stained household implements symbolised not the OJ trial but a post-apocalyptic view of a world inflicting violence on itself. It has been said that fashion and politics/social issues don't mix. Maybe they don't for the "narcissists" but they do for Red or Dead's customers in the same way that a social conscience and the music industry are linked - take the Clash or U2, for example.

Some of the crap that has been written about the so-called violence in the Red or Dead show has highlighted the gulf that exists between a free- thinking British youth culture and a right-wing fashion-editor clique which believes that good design equals clothes that sexually excite the "fat cat" husband.

While the tremendous amount of publicity we received will undoubtedly lead to large sales for the Red or Dead brand, it is a shame that the real message of the collection has been missed. The press release accompanying the show opened like this: "It is some time soon in the new millennium, the French have made the mistake we all fear. They have gone further than just destroying some coral - they have annihilated the balance of the world and society as we know it."

The section that received the "shock horror" headlines read like this: "With television - the drug of the nation - no longer available, the ignorance it has bred and the degradation it has fed has persuaded the housewife to be a 'psycho ...' "

Yet one of the reporters from the People told me she hadn't even attended the show. I had my first experience of a tabloid reporter who only wanted to know if Red or Dead were a group of satanists and a danger to society. They steadfastly refused to have the press releases faxed to them or to listen to our viewpoint.

Even worse was the Daily Telegraph's reporter, who said yesterday the violence "caused buyers to leave in droves" - what a load of utter rubbish!

If anything more is to come from the events of this weekend, let us hope it is the realisation that there are now more important things in life than a pretty cocktail frock. Fortunately, the younger generation already understands this.

The writer is head of design and co-founder of Red or Dead.

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