Two disabled models walked in the opening show of London Fashion Week today.
The British design duo Teatum Jones cast Kelly Knox, who was born without the lower half of her right arm and Jack Eyers, 27, whose leg was amputated when he was 16, to model in their AW17 collection.
The show, entitled The Body, indicates a politically sensitive mood at the opening of the London collections that follows on from political protest at last week’s New York Fashion Week. To a blasting original soundtrack that included the voice of the poet Kate Tempest and an extract from Meryl Streep’s speech at the Golden Globes where she denounced President Donald Trump for his alleged mocking of a disabled journalist, the designers sent out a collection that they said was inspired by “a love of human stories and and rejecting the idea of the perfect human form.”
Knox was previously the winner of BBC3’s Britain’s Missing Top Model. In 2015 Eyers was the first disabled male model to walk at New York Fashion Week.
The seed of the idea came last year after meeting people in the para-athletics community, said designer Cat Teatum. “Able and disabled bodied people don’t have different desires when it comes to fashion. They want great textiles, interesting shapes. Kelly and Jack are dressed in the collection like the other models. We’ve just had conversations with them about how to adapt their clothing. The overriding message is that we’re all the same.”
This was a polished collection of both women’s and menswear from Teatum and Rob Jones, winners of last year’s prestigious International Woolmark Prize. Fluid, waisted, mid-length dresses and mannish tailoring (for women) lent a look that was elegant and perhaps more accessible than previous offerings from the designers.
Dominated by a dark palette of navy and black, with sleek dresses in rich deep red and raspberry, followed by palette cleansing flashes of silver, the chunky, over-sized knitwear was strong and their signature exaggerated coat shapes made for the sort of garment you want to huddle into immediately. Commercially, this could be one of their most successful collections yet. For London Fashion Week, it was a strong opening statement.