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The Oxford Fashion Gala is Back!

You heard it here first! After an incredible sold-out 2023 show, The Oxford Fashion Gala is back for 2024, so get the date in your diary (W3 TT24!), because after speaking to the OFG President, David Akanji, and Creative Director Zaira Christa, we’re convinced that it won’t be one to miss. 

In case you haven’t heard, The Oxford Fashion Gala is an annual fashion showcase, celebrating creativity and fashion design which is so often overlooked at Oxford, which, this year, is focused around the theme A Voyage in Ascent. This year’s Gala is in support of Oxford Mutual Aid, a not-for-profit company which is working towards reducing homelessness in Oxford. To give our readers an exclusive insight (!), Cherwell spoke to the team themselves to get all the hottest on their vision for the upcoming OFG, and we can assure you they didn’t disappoint!

It appears that we’re in good hands, with the multi-talented OFG President himself – David Akinja – a second-year medic at Oriel, who explored his motivations for applying for the role as rooted in his experience completing a Foundation Course at UAL, where he focused his Final Major Project around the evolution of the UK black fashion scene and its impact on current trends. David is intrigued by fashion, being at the “forefront of [his] creative endeavours” as an extension of sculpture and 3D art, and is excited to share this creativity through his Presidency! 

The brilliant Zaira Christa, second-year music student at Somerville and OFG Creative Director outlined her motivations as based around bringing her own experience in the fashion industry to Oxford, being her self-titled brand ‘Zaira Christa’, which launched in September 2022 and first took to the runway in London Fashion Week 2023.

The theme, ‘A Voyage in Ascent’, is adapted from Issey Miyake’s SS22 collection A Voyage in Descent. This collection is a representation of a journey into the abyss, whereby the looks play with fluid, dynamic and lightweight fabrics, combined with flowing curves, glossy textures and intense colours to represent a progression into the deep sea, from the silence and peace which come with entry into the water, to the discovery of new creatures and sensations as the voyage continues. The team explored their fascination with, and subsequent adaptation of this collection with their initial attraction to “celestial” ideas and the stark contrast of such with “depths … and darkness”. David told Cherwell that “upon more research, I came across Miyake’s SS22 collection, … which made me think that would be a nice spin to put on it … instead of descending downwards, let’s take that and spin it and bring everything upwards”. The OFG team is keen to “give designers a good breadth to take the theme and push it in any direction … so it becomes a more celebratory event where designers have their own creative vision and they are free to explore any avenue”. Contrast appears to be an element the team is excited to work with, as Zaira explored the development of her original “lunar eclipse” idea, where the “guests would dress in black so the designers would have the freedom to design in any colour”, which was built on by the team’s focus on “celestial bodies, and spiritual ascent as well as literal ascent”

The OFG team plans to make the celebration of who the designers and models are a priority this year, with a production of a catalogue of looks with bios of each designer, and spaces for them to discuss their ideas and thoughts, to contextualise the garments and bring them to life. Zaira emphasises their focus on a “space of creative expression… with a celebration of fashion and art for both designers and guests”

However, the Gala itself isn’t solely about the expression of artistry, as David delves deeper into their focus on sustainability, stating the team’s pledge to “align ourselves with brands that are ethical and … work well with the environment, … adamantly steer[ing] away from retail”, despite its potential economic benefits. The team “values integrity … as a society”, and is encouraging upcycling, emphasising to designers that “you don’t need to go out and buy yards and yards of fabric to create a look! … The resurrection of clothing is an avenue we’re really trying to push designers to go down”. 

Perhaps the most exciting element of The Oxford Fashion Gala, however, is that you can get involved! The call-out for both models and designers is open now on their Instagram, @theoxfordfashiongala! With no experience required, this is the perfect opportunity to channel your creativity, as either a designer or model, as David emphasises his desire to decrease gate-keeping of the industry, and increase inclusivity in the event, calling for “everyone to have fun, and enjoy themselves through fashion”.

Image Credit: Oxford Fashion Gala

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