Rumney Valley Express
Real Women in Fashion - at last
Thursday 15 February 2007
WHILE internationally-famous designers show off at London Fashion Week with an array of A-list celebrities and stick thin models, an acclaimed artist from the Rhymney Valley was staging a different kind of event.
Tracey Moberly who was born and grew up in Gilfach, Bargoed, unofficially opened the seven-day style extravaganza on Monday night with a fashion show celebrating real women.
The former Fine Art lecturer, who now lives in East London, designed shock factor outfits made out of real human hair and sent out unshaven women, some complete with cellulite and love handles, down the catwalk.
As part of an art project with students from Brighton University, Tracey, a mum-of-three, has lent her talents to a programme for the body image series by BBC Three which looks at why society demands women make themselves body hair-free.
The result, unashamedly showcased at the Cafe De Paris in central London, was a parade of models with hairy navels and bristly legs working the catwalk in daring creations from fuzz-lined knickers to hair trimmed lingerie.
And these are for all to see when the programme is screened later this year.
Among the models atTracey's show was 25 year old Morris dancing biker Susie Yates, who has not shaved her legs for four months and is a comfortable size 12-14.
The first time model told the Express: "I feel very proud to have been part of this. It's great to celebrate who we are not what we should be. I haven't cut my hair for fifteen years and I feel happy about the way I look."
Susie was just one of the many who got involved with the idea after Richard & Judy appealed for 'natural' women to grow their body hair on their prime-time TV show.
And the presenters themselves, along with Howard Marks and KLF's Bill Drummond, even donated their own locks for Tracey to work her weaving magic.
Tracey, who is more used to making political statements with contemporary art exhibitions, said after the show she had already received several offers to buy her furry garments.
"It's never been done before," she said. "It's the complete opposite of what's going on at London Fashion Week and the size zero debate. "Women have become so extreme in their grooming so I was really pleased to get involved with this project. "It's a really strong message for women who feel pressure to look a certain way. It's been interesting for me as it's made me question my own vanity."
Tracey aged 42, attended Heolddu Comprehensive School where she says she may have sunconsciously collected ideas for the show.
"There was a girl at school I remember who had hairy armpits," we probably laughed at her but now I think it's wonderful. When I was in school I had my own hair mishaps-I had a reversed mohican! I think people from home would love to buy them. People from the Rhymney Valley are a really fun and open lot - that's why I am like I am.
Stand up comic Shazia Mirza , presented the fashion show and gave up her beauty regime for the project.
She said: " I used to wax all the time so when I started this three months ago, I thought this was going to be very difficult. But I've carried on with life despite being hairy! Tracey's designs are amazing." BBC Three's body image series is being screened this March.
Show was a big hit
So what did the audience think? MELINA Kalliabestos, aged 27, has been the subject of stares and bullying because of her own facial hair. She said: "It was difficult but eventually I learned to accept it and stopped trying to get rid of it. People are being squashed into being something different to what they are and it leads to depression. This project is amazing because it lets people celebrate their uniqueness. Body hair is a natural thing and everyone should be allowed to express themselves."
A model wearing one of Tracey's attention grabbing designs told us: "I got sick of having to look 'perfect' all the time and for being successful purely as a result of looking a certain way. There is so much pressure on young girls to look like models and it shouldn't be like that. This project was great for me as it gave me a chance to do something that wasn'y necessarily about looking good.."
Simon Hall, aged 24 was in the audience and said: "It's really refreashing to see beautiful women not being hung up on conforming. "There should be more fashion shows like this one."
Caption: REAL WOMEN: A model takes to the stage in Tracey Moberly's catwalk show, right. The Bargoed designer's show was a hit at the Cafe De Paris in London. [Photographs Grant Triplow]