Backstage at BAFW never fails to entertain me, observing the frantic reconstruction of complex outfits, so abstract as to leave you wondering how a market for these products even exists. The melee of colours, textures, sounds and smells produces a spectacle like no other; it really is a mouthwatering prospect for any photographer.

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Alternative fashion shows are a colourful microcosm of 21st-century Western culture and the extremes to which humanity will stretch in order to find boundaries to challenge. These boundaries are, however, built on such fragile foundations that heads no longer turn when they are breached.

Sex and rebellion were the two main themes at this year’s show; anti-war slogans, pro-sexual freedom sentiments were once again regurgitated to rapturous celebration. Although this is evidently an example of freedom of expression, if all artistic expression reaches consensus, the viewers must ask themselves whether ‘alternative’ opinions are spurned because the world of fashion has now found harmony, or because conflicting ideas are no longer allowed in this arena, I fear it is the latter.

Aside from these criticisms, the talent, indefatigability and creative vision of these designers cannot be questioned. The message to the audience was quite clear – enthusiasm makes anything possible. Whether it’s creating a clothing line from the ground up whilst ignoring all the rules of design or whether it’s organising an event at which these clothes are exhibited, you can achieve it.

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Photos and text by Harry Leath