Fashion & Freedom

Manchester Art Gallery


Fashion & Freedom includes a series of specially commissioned films. These works, collaborations among visionary directors and designers, provide contemporary reflections upon the social and cultural changes brought about by the First World War and are reflective of how historical events continue to inspire cutting-edge creative production.


SHOWstudio is the home of fashion film and has championed the medium since the site’s inception in 2000. SHOWstudio also serves as an educational resource to young people, students and those interested in fashion – offering a critical and considered series of films around historical fashion, current movements and the future of the industry.

Fashion & Freedom is a very natural fit. When working out our plans, we chose to continue our commitment both to fashion film and, more widely, to supporting emerging talent, so selected from our wide range of brilliant contributors those key creatives who are making waves in their respective fields.” – Charlotte Knight, Executive Producer, SHOWstudio

Designer: Phoebe English
Stylist: Ellie Grace Cumming
Director of Photography: Britt Lloyd
Produced by PRETTYBIRD
Executive Producer: Juliette Larthe
Producer: Hannah Bellil
Make-up Artist: Laura Dominique
Hair Stylist: Cyndia Harvey
Set Design: Simon Costin
Manicurist: Mike Pocock
Handlers: Philip Ellis, Bradley Sharpe, Harris Reed and Pablo Rousson
Phoebe English Design Assistant: Megan Sharkey
Stylist Assistant: Ben Schofield
Make-up Assistant: Yae Pascoe
Hair Assistant: Jennifer Lil Buckley
Art Department Assistant: Meriel Hunt
Handlers Casting: Philip Ellis
Production Coordinator: Laura Thomas-Smith
Production Assistant: Ella Knight
1st Assistant Director: Bryony James
Focus Puller: Sean McDerrmot
Gaffer: Yan Murawski
Electrician: Hamza Twomey
Offline Editor: Raquel Couceiro
Colourist: Houmam Abdallah at Electric Theatre Collective

SHOWstudio were kindly hosted by The London EDITION.

To explore the fall of the corset, SHOWstudio commissioned Rei Nadal, a young Spanish filmmaker and artist who regularly explores themes of femininity, rights of passage and role-play within her work. Fashion designer Phoebe English was tasked with creating the garment – she was selected partly because of her focus on adorning and accentuating the body though laboured construction forms and handwork techniques. Stylist Ellie Grace Cumming, a regular collaborator of both Nadal and English, also lends her eye.

Designer: Gareth Pugh
Fashion Historian: Shonagh Marshall
Production: Stink Studios

With special thanks to Carson McColl and Aine Geoghegan.

While many know Gareth Pugh for his interest in club culture and performance, he is respected throughout the industry as a master cutter and tailor, with a skill for precise fits and razor sharp lines and shoulders. Military wear, therefore, is the perfect avenue for him to explore when considering historical costume. Filmmaker George Harvey, who is known for his clean black and white aesthetic, has a similarly sharp, considered focus and so makes the perfect partner.

Designer: Craig Green
Models: Ia at Models1, Gaby at Next and Xu at Storm
Stylist: Anna Pesonen
Choreographer: Del Mak
Director of Photography: Franklin Dow
Hair: Sofia Sjoo
Make Up: Yin Lee
Focus Puller: Will Hadley
Gaffer: Naomi Hancock
Camera and Lighting: SLV
Soundtrack: Kiat
Runner: Egle Andriuskeviciute

Rising London talent Craig Green is known for combining humble fabrics such as calico and traditional, masculine silhouettes with cerebral concepts and emotions. His work is quiet and unassuming, yet moving and rousing. Workwear is a constant obsession in all his collections. He partners with Marie Schuller, a filmmaker known for her diverse focus and bold subject matters.


For Fashion & Freedom, filmmaker Luke Snellin has written and directed a short narrative film entitled first, which re-imagines a young woman’s first day of work as a bus conductor during the First World War. The film stars Sai Bennett and features re-styled women’s civic uniforms designed by Manchester fashion label, Private White V.C.

Produced and edited by Luke Snellin
Co-Producers: Max Milner and Matthew Gallagher
Executive Producer: Darrell Vydelingum
Clothes by Private White V.C.
Costume Designer: Nick Ashley
Costume Supervisor: Lily Ashley
Costume Assistant: Beatrice Vermeir
Director of Photography: Carl Burke
Production Designer: Beck Rainford
Art Director: Freya Closs
Hair and Make up Designer: Alyn Waterman
Original Music by Jeremy Warmsley


Sai Bennett
Marion Bailey
Dino Fetscher
Rebekah Staton
Sarah Sweeney
Dominique Moore
Roy North
Elizabeth Sankey
Matthew Stathers
Will Chitty

With thanks to:

The London Bus Museum, One Stop Films and Lee Lighting

“The inspiration for the idea came from talking about the changes to women’s fashion during the First World War. Women were given new responsibilities and pushed further towards equality as a result. The clothing reflected this, it became more officious and the cut and shapes began to shift towards more powerful and authoritative silhouettes.

So initially it came from the clothing, but then thinking emotionally about a narrative I started to consider what it must be like to face a first day at work when you are thought of as inferior or inadequate to do that job. There is a nervousness, an anxiety – drama, and yet pride and excitement at the opportunity to prove to people that you are capable.

I also liked the idea of a young woman’s life changing over the course of her first day at work; for her individual story to be shadowing the changes in women’s rights that were jump-started during the period. I wanted it to be a love story too and felt it just as important to tell the story of her beginning to fall in love as her beginning her working life. The balance of these things was key to the tone of the film and to portraying her as a three-dimensional woman.

My idea was also to be slightly rebellious and try some things to distinguish the style from traditional period films. I wanted to combine loyalty to the period with subtle, more modern progressive details like a contemporary score, typography and other aesthetic details such as casting choices and the props and costumes.

This vision came full circle with Nick Ashley and Private White V.C. executing a modern, minimalist approach to the clothes, which I think neatly underscores the connection between the two periods, one hundred years apart.” – Luke Snellin

About Private White V.C.

For Fashion & Freedom, the fashion label Private White V.C. has designed and crafted the uniforms worn by the female workforce in first. The wool dresses are a contemporary take on the civic uniforms of the First World War and for the film were worn with period accessories to complete the look. The fashion label Private White V.C. pays homage to its namesake, First World War hero, Private Jack White. The clothing line has a subtle nod to White’s military legacy, with many items based on classic wartime pieces, updated with added functionality and detail for the modern man.

All clothing is constructed by hand in the Private White V.C. factory in Manchester, where garments are designed and developed using the finest regionally sourced fabrics, trims and materials.


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