Edinburgh International Fashion Festival

I’ve heard about Edinburgh International Fashion Festival for quite a few years now but I’ve never actually attended myself due to various reasons, but this year I decided to go with a couple of my friends. The festival is made up of a series of talks, book signings and pop-up shops – sort of like the Vogue Festival but free, and on a much smaller scale. It was held last weekend and the events I attended were on 23rd July.

First we went to the talk on sexuality and the objectification of women in fashion entitled “Object of Desire – Sex, Fashion, and the Female Gaze”. I found it rather interesting but I think that it wasn’t really about fashion at all. It was about women and sexuality, 100%. Do you find it it empowering? Is it objectification? What is desire?

The talk was meant to be all about how we present ourselves to the world and how our sexual desires are translated into our clothing and appearance. For this reason the panel consisted of a designer who made erotic style jewellery, a designer of functional bondage and accessories, a visual artist who does erotic illustrations, videos and tattoos and then the moderator, an insanely cool journalist who possessed that je ne sais quoi that only French women can.

I was expecting to see some images, perhaps by the likes of Helmut Newton or even Terry Richardson and some commentary (and criticism of Terry’s in particular) on them. There were a couple of fleeting references to Carine Roitfeld (the queen of porno-chic) and the Tom Ford Gucci ads with the pubic hair, but apart from that fashion was barely mentioned. I think the discussion perhaps went a little off-topic but I still found it interesting. The discussion was more centred on pornography and the availability of it, especially to children, and the difference between meaningful sex and a hook-up. Diesel, for example, came under fire for advertising on Grindr as their target market is apparently teenagers. I didn’t understand this point really as teenagers will not specifically seek out Diesel adverts, and if they’re on Grindr when they’re too young to be, that’s nothing to do with Diesel as a brand.

My one criticism would be that I found that the moderator was slightly pushing one of the panelists to say things that she may have not thought/wanted to say so I didn’t really like that too much. The panelist in question owned the bondage/fashion accessories business focusing on luxury leather goods. She, personally, seemed rather reserved, despite the nature of her business, whereas the other panellists were a lot more open with sharing their own experiences. I left this talk feeling slightly confused as to what I had just heard but it made me think about things, definitely. It has also made me want to further explore sex in fashion because that is what I was keen to hear about.

Afterwards we went to the “Masterclass: Sustainable Business Models”, which is am going to talk about separately because I think this linked into a lot of the issues that I have been exploring in a sustainable/ethical fashion thread, featuring an executive from Stella McCartney, the famous vegetarian fashion brand. They don’t use real leather, they don’t use cashmere, they don’t use any animal based products. This makes the brand rather unique in fashion as fur, leather, suede, wool is used consistently in fashion. Look at a selection of shows during the FW season and you’ll see an abundance of these materials being used. This discussion was actually very interesting and a topic that I was keen to learn more about given my recent investigation into the area.

So yes, overall I did enjoy the events that I attended at the festival and I think I would return again, should I ever be back in Edinburgh for the summer (although that’s unlikely for the next few years as hopefully I will be interning). I do enjoy hearing talks about these issues, especially when people from real businesses share their business practices. I hope that I come across lectures on things like this once I get to college after the summer but I’m not sure what to expect. I like getting engaged and exploring issues that I hadn’t considered before. I don’t particularly like Stella as a brand but I appreciate the work that they are doing. I like having my mind opened up to other things, however the sexuality talk had me thinking about societal issues much deeper than fashion.

Eve Gardiner is the founder and content creator behind evegardiner.com

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