Swansea student’s body positive design heads global advertising campaign

A surface pattern student from Swansea College of Art, UWTSD has become one of five people commissioned to design and create a garment for use in an international ad campaign to promote a positive body image by feminine protection brand Libresse / Bodyform (owned by Essity).

Applicants were asked to design a garment that would promote body positivity and Rebecca Davies was one of the five students selected to receive a £2,000 bursary to enable her to bring her design to life. The dress she designed is now being used as part of a global campaign by Libresse/Bodyform.

“The brief was to redefine the term ‘Designer Vagina’, which is the adopted name for the labiaplasty surgical procedure – so that it was disassociated from that procedure,” says Rebecca.

“Libresse/Bodyform wanted to take the term and turn it into a celebration of inclusivity and diversity – so that when young girls and women search the term ‘designer vagina’, what they see first is images of fun fashion and body positivity, not the ads and images of labiaplasty clinics encouraging them to question the way that their body looks.

“I feel that it is so important, in a time where we are over-exposed to the expectations of others, to say that there is not one way that you are meant to look, and that the differences between us are completely normal. Our differences should be celebrated and accepted, by ourselves as well as others.”

Applicants were asked to design a garment that embodied Libresse/Bodyform’s more positive definition of “designer vagina”, and Rebecca’s response was to create a beautiful dress whose floral print incorporates imagery of the vulva.

“From the examples on the brief, they were looking for the garment to resemble a vagina,” says Rebecca. “However, being a surface pattern design student, I produced a pattern that incorporated the vagina into a floral motif, and instead printed the pattern on to silk and designed a dress that was a more ‘wearable’ shape. I wanted the wearer to feel empowered and comfortable in the dress, as she should in her own skin. This was the first garment I have ever made, and I am so pleased with how I all came out.”

The dress was then modelled by Rebecca’s sister and professionally photographed for the campaign.

“It was so special to have my sister modelling it in the campaign,” says Rebecca. “The day of the campaign shoot was such a positive experience for us both. Being able to see someone else respond to your design, by styling it and giving it a narrative to empower women, was an incredible experience, and one that I feel very privileged to have taken part in.

“Using fashion is an effective way of illustrating the message of unconditional beauty, especially as the fashion industry has often been used to project a very specific beauty standard. Every design is completely different, capturing varying personalities and perspectives, that still somehow complement each other and work together to tell the story.”

Rebecca adds that the project has benefitted her studies and will also be a boost to her future career in fashion.

“This project was quite the whirlwind and I still find myself recalling things that I have learnt that I will take forward into my further learning and into my career,” she says. “To see this video complete and available for others to view, really solidifies the experience and makes it all feel so much more real. I am very grateful to have had this experience and look forward the further content that is still to be released.”

Rebecca’s course tutor Georgia McKie, a senior lecturer in Surface Pattern and Textiles, is delighted by Rebecca’s achievement.

“Rebecca has managed a spectacularly ambitious and highly sophisticated project which has clearly connected with the intended audience,” she says.  “What a game changer for her portfolio; to be able to see your beautiful pattern design featured on a conceptual garment that you have made from scratch, as part of an international advertising campaign such as this is an incredible accolade and achievement for a student.  

“Rebecca has not shied away from the challenge of handling a sensitive subject: the growing issue of the self-inflicted barbarity of labiaplasty amongst women and girls who are burdened by the monumental pressure exerted by so called ‘beauty norms’ that exist in our society. We are so proud of her positive stance against these beauty myths. We are a female strong programme, and we feel so inspired by what she has been able to say in this design.”

Luciana De Azevedo Lara, Global Brand Communication Manager (Libresse/Bodyform) added “We’ll proudly continue taboo-breaking until the work is done and there is no more vulva shame. This new purposeful fashion bursary is another chapter.”

Find out more about this campaign and see other styles created for this here:  https://www.libresse.no/

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