This article was originally published on online magazine Disability Horizons; who I regularly write for as a freelance journalist.
In January, we spoke to Lucy Martin to find out what it is like being the first visibly disabled BBC weather presenter, how she secured the job, why she became interested in meteorology and what life was like for her growing up with her disability. Our writer Emma Purcell recently caught up with Lucy to talk about her catwalk debut at the diverse Fashanne Awards.
As well as having an eye on the weather, Lucy Martin has a passion for fashion. In June 2018, she took part in the Fashanne Awards, the only regional graduate fashion awards in the country to take diversity to its heart. I spoke to her to find out more about the event, what it was like walking the runway next to Paralympian Richard Whitehead and her views on diverse fashion events.
We also discussed Lucy’s cameo in the Wimbledon trailer, and her thoughts on more disabled people appearing in mainstream media.
What is the Fashanne Awards?
The Fashanne Awards is the only fashion awards for students in the East Midlands. Now in its third year, it was founded by BBC presenter Anne Davies. It aims to champion the next generation of graduate designers from five universities in the region, bringing their designs to the catwalk for the first time.
This year there was a move to include a variety of both visible and non-visible disabilities on the catwalk, with guest models including myself, double gold medal Paralympian Richard Whitehead and motivational speaker Sian Green-Lord.
On the night, the designer’s work is judged by a fabulous panel of industry experts. This year’s panel included Patrick Grant from The Great British Sewing Bee. As well as winning the accolade on the night, the finalist also gets to display their collections in a two-day exhibition before.
Held in St Mary’s church in Nottingham, the event included the catwalk show, live music, food and drink. Not only did it showcase great fashion design students, but the event itself was put together by students from across the region, with them doing the catering, hair and make-up.
How did you get involved in Fashanne Awards?
I did a significant proportion of my training to be a BBC weather presenter in Nottingham with the East Midlands weather team. Anne reads the news for East Midlands Today, so we met there. We used to chat a lot whilst doing our make-up in the dressing room. The Fashanne Awards obviously came up in conversation a few times, so I was really excited when I was asked to take part in it this year.
Can you tell us more about what you wore and the designers?
All of the outfits were totally different. The first was jumpsuit with white trainers and a matching bag by Patrycja Raczynska. Patrycja’s collection was based on division in society, drawing inspiration from the solidarity movement in Poland in the 1980 and protests happening now. She was also influenced by sportswear and tailoring.
The second designer was Megan Scott-Jenner, who was inspired by broderie anglaise (a French style of lace work), a Fendi campaign and a trip to Venice. Using a mix of traditional and modern technology, she’d used brightly coloured wool to create her collection. The jumper I wore was embellished with laser-cut felt details.
The final look was by Mesoni Lindsay. Taking inspiration from Sri Lanka’s exotic sea life, she mixed simple silhouettes with bold, lively prints to create the beautiful patterned dress and jacket that I wore.
What was it like modelling alongside Paralympian Richard Whitehead and Sian Green-Lord?
Fantastic! They’re both lovely, fun and doing some very cool stuff. It was mine and Richard’s first time on the catwalk, so it was nice to have someone to share the experience of being a total beginner with.
There was a lot of positivity about our modelling from people in the audience and those I spoke to following the show. I have been asked to take part again next year, so that means I must have done something right.
What was your highlight of the event?
I loved seeing my outfits for the first time and meeting their creators. I had no idea what I was going to be wearing until I arrived, so it was a great surprise. I had such a variety of looks, so it was fun to switch between them and try stuff that I wouldn’t usually have the chance to wear.
I was also excited to try something new and out of my comfort zone. But, most importantly, I was thrilled to be a part of the movement calling for disabilities to be properly represented and diversity celebrated.
Do you think diversity was presented well at the event?
Yes. I think any step or move towards greater diversity is wonderful. The Fashanne Awards did a great job, making a conscious step forward and shining the light on this issue.
But for me, there is always more that can be done. Diversity is a goal that we have to keep pushing for until inclusivity is the norm and these sorts of questions no longer need to be asked.
Do you hope to attend other fashion events in the future?
Definitely! Both on the catwalk and in the audience. It was such a great experience and I really would encourage others to get involved if the opportunity arises. It can be so dramatic and makes for a great night.
If you could give our readers one fashion tip, what would it be?
It sounds so cliché, but make sure you are comfortable in whatever you wear. Ignore the numbers on the label and pick something that makes you feel great. You can have the most beautiful clothes, but if you don’t feel confident in them, something will always be missing.
Clothes have such power to change your mood and express elements of your personality. So I would encourage everyone to just try things on and enjoy them.
Oh, and never underestimate the power of good underwear!
In addition to the Fashanne Awards, you also had a brief cameo in this summers Wimbledon trailer. What was it like being featured?
Wicked! I knew that a clip had been used, but I didn’t see the finished piece until it was shown on TV. It was a short clip, but the trailer was played at half-time during one of the world cup matches, so a lot of people will have seen it.
More people with disabilities are appearing in reality TV shows, such as Strictly Come Dancing and The Great British Bake Off. Would you ever consider being a contestant on a reality show?
I am so deeply excited by this surge in visibility on big-name, mainstream shows. I hadn’t fully felt the impact of seeing people ‘like me’ on screen until I watched Strictly and then Bake Off back-to-back on catch up – I was whooping and bouncing off the walls!
I love new challenges and competition (you’ve been warned!) so would definitely be up for being a contestant on one of these types of shows. Strictly and Bake Off are so iconic and culturally important, so I would obviously love to be involved. I also really love The Island with Bear Grylls at the moment – that could be really interesting.
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Thank you for visiting Rock For Disability! If you enjoy reading my blog content, please consider supporting me by donating money to help fund future blog posts. Plus 20% of each donation will go to disability charities! ♿️🎸🎶🎵🤑😍❤️