Testament is literally a testament to my incredible parents and the love I have for them both. They never encouraged me to be anything other than my most true self, and to fight for that person. They let me experiment, they let me fall, they let me soar, fall again, and soar again... and I am probably still doing this to this day. But they taught me self-awareness. Awareness of whether I was making choices for myself, as opposed to for someone other than myself. Be it out of fear or out of empowerment, recklessness or something risky yet brave. Because it is heartbreakingly brave to commit to one’s true self.
Testament also came out of a moment in time when I did genuinely, through much trial & error, began to find love in myself. I wasn’t the skinniest I’d ever been, I wasn’t looking the most fresh-faced, I remained truly flawed and I was tired – but in a good way. Tired because I had grown and fought and created… My work had started to represent a beauty and purpose more important and beautiful to me than a set of scales, or a reflection and a past I was trying to come to peace with.
I collaborated with Shezaana Sadikeen, an illustrator and friend, whose illustrations were dark and honest and I really resonated with that unapologetic and raw perspective of self. The individuals who walked the runway were cast based off of their own zero fucks attitude and their story. We were striving to achieve significant diversity in casting the Testament runway by scouting a diverse range of empowered individuals who were more than simply a body.
The show opened with the incredible voice of Conor McCabe of Fortunes. Who began singing solo in the middle of the crowd. Then we began, what I called, the mourning ceremony. Where models shrouded in pvc coffin like coats entered with fringed/weeping headpieces. This was a piece missing from the original Valium showcase. It was simply overlooked by the head creatives working on that runway 2 years prior. But two people did hear me, loud and clear at that show - and promised to make this important mourning ceremony and my vision for this runway happen… exactly as I envisaged.
Dee and Kat of Duende Co_, who have since become family to me, have worked with me since day 1. They made Testament happen and I probably wouldn't still be in this industry if it weren’t for them not giving up on me and my vision. They hear every little detail & understand why every little detail is there & is important.
There was a lot of constriction within the design and construction of the garments - with strapping and belts and elastic and leather lacing. All to do with the suffocation of living against one’s truth. I do tend to reference the fetish and bondage culture in my work, and Testament was no exception. Because ultimately bondage is misunderstood, like me in some regards. Bondage isn’t about ownership. It is about consent, it is freedom, it is empowerment, it is liberation and ultimately trust. Obviously, people have the ability to abuse all of this, but I think my freedom of expression has also been abused, by people who have been threatened by that freedom. In Testament, I took that back – and I wanted everyone to leave that warehouse having taken a piece of themselves back.
I had spent the year before this runway not creating anything, and essentially being owned by a male. Owned because I stayed and I let him dictate my thoughts and beliefs about myself and how I looked. Owned out of some fear I had of losing him, potentially a fear of being alone, I’m not entirely sure - but I do know the fear was very real. Maybe it was fear that I could actually walk away and that I was more powerful than I was giving myself credit for. I still cannot believe I held onto that fear for so long.
So, this show was also a testament to the fact that no one would ever take dictatorship over me again. Because I had the power, self-worth and strength to not let them.
This runway was about empowerment, embodiment and ownership of self - so I didn’t simply force the models into garments. I wanted them to feel incredible in the clothes they were assigned to for the runway, no one needed to wear something they didn’t feel empowered by. We finished the looks off by littering them with their own accessories, shoes, tights… and attitude.
I wanted the models to walk that runway as their own empowered selves. Touching themselves, feeling themselves, seducing each other, stopping to smoke a cigarette with the crowd, giving their drinks to the crowd. It was sleazy, it was sexy, it was intimate, it was interactive. There were cheeky grins, shameless giggles and moments when both the crowd & the models found themselves blushing. All to the unapologetic and abrasive sounds of a live hard-core punk band, and dear friends of mine, Motovilhika. It was ownership, it was vulnerable and it was the true birth of Alabama Blonde.