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BUZZ - Fashion Bites Back

Yet what an aura surrounds you;
Your evil little aura, prowling, and casting a numbness on my mind.

That is your trick, your bit of filthy magic:
Invisibility, and the anæsthetic power
To deaden my attention in your direction.

But I know your game now, streaky sorcerer.

From DH Lawrence, The Mosquito

We learn from the poem by DH Lawrence that he didn’t like mosquitoes. Not at all. So irritated was he by them trying to bite him, he wrote 110 lines in ire at their existence. However, whereas Lawrence used blank verse to combat the homicidal pest, JCI (Junior Chamber International) are next month using the equally unlikely medium of fashion to combat that "streaky sorcerer".

JCI is a global network for young people in their 20s and 30s. They work in more than 100 countries and have almost 200,000 members across the world. There latest venture will take place here at Northern Ballet and it’s called Fashion Bites Back. Seven designers at different levels of their careers will show work in an event to raise money for Nothing But Nets, a charity that raises money for and awareness about malaria.

Malaria infects 225 million people a year and kills 781,000, most of them under 5. 10 new cases of malaria are contracted every second. Every 45 seconds, a child in Africa dies from malarial infection. It’s an unglamorous illness (one celebrity endorsement from Cheryl Cole aside) and a single vaccine that provides long-term protection still evades the sterling work being done by researchers. The tiny insect makes a mighty foe and on October 8th JCI will seek to fight fire with fire, bite with bite – saliva-induced haemostasis-inhibiting blood-suction with a great big sartorial munch.

The designers gnawing at the malarial bit are

Bozena Carter

Originally from Poland, Bo has shown work at Leeds Fashion Show, Virginia Fashion Week and Malta Fashion Week. You can see her designs at her boutique in Birds Yard, Leeds.

Hannah Ashworth

Hannah was taught to sew by her grandmother and has taken this bedrock skill on to new heights. Currently in her second year at Leeds, Hannah has also started a placement with Vicki Martin.

Jaey Nengomasha

Born in Zimbabwe, Jaey is passionate about creating extra-ordinary knit wear garments. She’s currently studying Fashion Design, Marketing, Manufacture and Promotion at Huddersfield.

Jag Sahota

Jag showcased her designs at the 2010 Leeds Fashion Show and, before that, studied at Leeds College of Arts and Designs. Jag’s family hail from Kenya and she is excited by using that familial heritage to infuse her designs.

Nicola Jane Designs

Having obtained a degree in fashion design, Nicola turned her hobby into a professional practice and founded Nicola Jane Designs. Each piece is an unreplicated design and look to offer something unique.

Sharon Banga

With her graduate collection shortly to be splashed across the pages of Fab Magazine, Sharon is one to watch. Her work has been shown at the Young African Fashion Weekend and you can look out for her African-inspired designs that celebrate female empowerment at this event.

Victoria Shea

Victoria also draws inspiration from African fashion, this was the focus of her dissertation at Leeds, and she is excited to be working on a net-inspired garment for this event, once again taking inspiration from African roots.

The whole spectacle will be presented by Gavin Mintus, currently of the BBC, and it will feature a contemporary dance performance inspired by African rhythms by local artist Gwenny Rose Robson. Each of the models will be groomed for their strut down the catwalk by Penny Wood, a Laban graduate of enormous experience in dance and movement from Leeds to Sydney. Penny is something of a polymath – a dancer with TV and stage credits, a Miss Universe Great Britain Finalist, an experienced body-artist and a talented vocalist. She, along with Gavin, Gwenny, the designers and the ultra-committed JCI team will make this event a heady gumbo of young talent and inspiring commitment. So…

Don’t miss the gumbo,
Down with mosquito,
Come see a poncho...

It rhymes, sort of, but it’s not Lawrence. To play us out, the real thing:

Away with a pæan of derision
You winged blood-drop.
Can I not overtake you?
Are you one too many for me
Winged Victory?
Am I not mosquito enough to out-mosquito you?

My thoughts exactly, DH.


learn more about Fashion Bites Back book now for Saturday 8 October

The views expressed in blogs are those of the author and not necessarily of Northern Ballet.