Climate activists glued themselves to a door and poured out a “bleeding” red carpet at the opening of London Fashion Week on Friday, seeking to draw attention to the apparel industry’s impact on the environment.
Protesters from the Extinction Rebellion group have vowed to disrupt the five-day event, where Burberry, Victoria Beckham, Erdem and other luxury brands are presenting their spring 2020 womenswear collections.
The group, which has staged protests in recent months calling for action to tackle climate change, had asked the British Fashion Council (BFC) to cancel the event.
Wearing white outfits with blood-like stains, five protesters glued themselves to one entrance of the main London Fashion Week venue. Other demonstrators briefly lay in a pool of pink liquid, which they said depicted blood.
The protesters arrived before the first show and were gone a few hours later. Fashion editors, buyers and bloggers entered the building through another main door nearby.
“(The demonstrators) are calling for the fashion industry to tell the truth about its contribution to the climate and ecological crisis,” the group said in a statement.
At a time of growing public environmental awareness, fashion brands are being urged to be more sustainable and cut waste.
BFC Chief Executive Caroline Rush told Reuters demands to cancel Fashion Week did not “solve the problem in terms of the way the industry needs to address the climate change emergency”.
“By having a platform like Fashion Week, it’s an opportunity to bring designers and the industry together and engage them in the conversation,” Rush said, adding the BFC was promoting a Positive Fashion initiative.
“We’re looking forward to five days of incredible creativity and we’ll be showcasing fantastic businesses, that many of them are already working in terms of how they can address the climate change emergency and what they’re doing to address positive change.”
In a separate protest, nine members of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) group poured buckets of black slime over themselves to highlight what they called “the hazardous waste associated with the leather industry”.
London Fashion Week is the second leg of a month-long catwalk season that also includes New York, Milan and Paris.
The shows draw buyers, editors and bloggers, and in London for the first time, the public will also mingle by the catwalks.
London will hold six public shows where, for tickets priced at 135 pounds and 245 pounds, fashion fans can watch models strutting down the catwalk in outfits by Alexa Chung, Henry Holland and Self-Portrait.
Designer Mark Fast, known for his knitwear, held London’s first show, presenting a colourful rainforest-inspired line of vivid green and neon pink cropped tops with matching short skirts.
Also nodding to 1990s looks, there were brightly-coloured fringed dresses, mesh tops and snakeskin prints on outfits and footwear that included lace-up heels and knee-high boots, all inspired by the rainforest flora and fauna.
“The destruction of the rainforest started to happen and I thought maybe this show should be a celebration of the beauty of the Amazon,” Fast told Reuters backstage referring to the recent fires in the Amazon rainforest.
Asked about the Extinction Rebellion protest, Fast said: “We all have our own fights we have to express and we express it in different ways.”
Designer Bora Aksu looked to Persian princess and women’s rights activist Taj Saltaneh for his frilly dresses embroidered with floral patterns.
Aksu contrasted pastels with bright orange, red and pink for layered tulle and organza frocks as well as printed dresses, accessorised with lace tights and floral headpieces. Models also wore tailored jackets, capes and calf-length trousers.