Liberty, For Life: Pride 2020
An interview from The Outside ProjectRead more
For Pride 2020, Liberty, For Life is supporting The Outside Project, the UK’s first LGBTIQ+ homeless shelter and community centre. To kick things off, Project Director, Carla Ecola, sat down with current shelter resident (and future fashion icon) Felix to ask what they thought…
What does it mean to you that Liberty is supporting a project like The Outside Project this Pride?
It means a lot to me, especially as someone who has had quite a traditional fashion education. It’s rare for companies of that level to have any form of political or social view, you know they don’t want to have any controversy. For me it feels great because the fashion industry and stores are founded on and full of the work of LGBTIQ+ people. Recognition of the reality and the darker side of what our community goes through is hugely important because they will have LGBTIQ+ staff and LGBTIQ+ customers and will continue to do so because of the nature of their store.
Are you saying that Liberty is gay?
Liberty is pretty darn right gay! They have a textile archive which is famous and it’s a part of any conversation with people who love textile and fabric – a lot of those people are gonna be gay! Or at least aware or a part of gay society. It’s just like what BIBA did in the early '70s, it was part of gay culture that bohemian movement that environment. Liberty, Carnaby Street, the punk movement; it was and always has been very queer and Liberty is part of that history and an archive to that time.
“Recognition of the reality and the darker side of what our community goes through is hugely important.”
So, London queer culture in the '70s is linked to Carnaby St and fashion houses like Liberty?
And we didn’t call it queer. We call it queer now but previously it was bohemian, the new romantics - it’s the same thing.
So, the bohemians and the new romantics were like the fashion gays now?
YES! Without a shadow of a doubt.
Liberty are now supporting this side of our community identity and experience - the truth and homelessness is not something usually recognised by a fashion house like Liberty.
Exactly. They are always going to employ queer people and that is great and as they should; queer people go for the jobs constantly because it is luxury fashion - but to recognise the full spectrum of our community and our experience is very special.
You were a fan of Liberty before - how do you feel now Liberty is supporting your house?
Yes, it’s very cool. It feels certifying. They sell McQueen – in first year fashion they’ll tell you McQueen made his first collection on benefits. He wasn’t on film because if the benefits found out they’d pull his money.
There was a lot of secrecy and mystery at the beginning of McQueen, wasn't there? But it wasn't hype, he was just worried about benefit fraud. Queer people experience higher levels of poverty. And he was going through so much as well.
Gay mental health – we all do!
Yes, there is an over-representation of mental health issues in our community as well. Thank you for talking to us, Felix! Do you have anything else to add?
Yes, I am available for employment and COVID sucks.