Style Points is a weekly column about how fashion intersects with the wider world.It’s become commonplace to say that a designer’s runway “looks like the world,” but truly world-reflecting casting is still, unfortunately, far from a universal reality. The London label Art School has been, since its debut in 2017, committed to creating a microcosm of real life on its runway. Designer Eden Lowath’s spring 2021 show, held at a park in Highgate, felt like the culmination of that mission, with 35 models in a wide range of ages, body shapes, backgrounds and gender presentations all coming together on his outdoor catwalk. The casting process, he says, has “been about reaching out to different community groups, and forming this kind of dystopian family.” That family could include everyone from “a 55-year-old straight woman from Dorset who’s a politician and found me through MatchesFashion,” the UK retailer that has championed the label, to fellow London designer Cozette McCreery of the brand Sibling, to a “19-year-old Muslim gay man from Leeds who I found on Instagram.”
A model backstage at Art School spring 2021.
“Many of those characters re-appear each season as people grow and change,” Loweth notes. “Obviously as part of that, we really have championed trans people from the beginning.” This season, he decided to “expand upon that and look at new communities.” After contributing to a paper on diversity and inclusion put out by the industry think tank Fashion Roundtable, Loweth met reps from Zebedee, an agency that works with people of different abilities and trans/nonbinary identites. “I corralled them outside the House of Commons,” Loweth recalls, and they connected him with some of the talent they work with, including several models with prosthetic limbs. The casting “said something really special about community, especially in the year that we’ve just had.”
One of the models from the brand’s spring 2021 show.
Speaking of community, “It was quite funny, because a lot of the models are now either seeing each other, or part of some kind of friendship group,” he says, laughing. “It’s scary; I’ve formed this really close-knit, incestuous family of models, which I quite love.” His customers were also represented on the…