Photography Lily Vetch

richard quinn shares a creative call-to-arms to save art education

Inspiring tomorrow’s talents, he turned his ever dazzling dial of colour, print and hyper-glamorous forms to 11. Theresa and co. are you listening?

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19 September 2018, 10:04pm

Photography Lily Vetch

How do you follow up the Queen of England attending your fashion show? It’s a question we all pondered because Richard Quinn secured the coup of autumn/winter 18 but his response was just as powerful. He invited students from his former art classes are from Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School, St Thomas More Catholic Comprehensive School and Central Saint Martins.

"In these dystopian times, there is a search for the things that can light our way," Richard Quinn explained in his creative call-to-arms show notes. From a whole host of American design talent pushing back against the on-going American nightmare of Trump in the White House during NYFW to London's brightest minds shining a spotlight onto their own socio-political possibilities, now more than ever, fashion is providing a much-needed torchlight in leading the way to a better tomorrow. Richard's answer was to turn his ever dazzling dial of colour, print and hyper-glamorous forms to 11. Against the infinite scroll negative news updates, we need drama, romance and glamour. Richard Quinn offers all of these and more.

"Recent political events have made people angry, more vocal and given us a reason to stand up and be counted," he explained to i-D last year. "Optimism is knowing the people bite back and have the power. Optimism is knowing the next generation is more informed and will fight for equality and peace." Creativity should play an important role in this fight. "I believe creativity thrives in adversity and now, more than ever, we need to be heard to make positive change," he told us then, before pausing, "it's always darkest before the dawn!" Here, after last season's front-page news of the Queen sitting frow at his show before awarding him the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design, he used his spring/summer 19 collection to light the way, not just for us but for the next generation too.

"It’s important to me to celebrate the community I come from, and thank British art education for the fact that I am business today," he explained in his show notes. "I have invited GCSE and A-level art pupils from the London state schools I went to, and print students from Central Saint Martins, along with their teachers today." It was an inspired and powerful move. After the royal endorsement, he knew eyes would be on him and he used his platform to call for change. "At a time when real damage is occurring to arts education, I want to point to how substantially its creative power lights the path to our future."

At a time in which creativity is being undermined in schools -- the English Baccalaureate, or EBacc, excludes creative, artistic and technical subjects from counting in key school league tables and there has been a 34% drop in arts GCSE entries since 2010 -- here was Richard showing that, far from frivolous, the arts are vital and fruitful too. "This year’s exam statistics show how seriously arts subjects are under threat in secondary schools in England, yet they are a foundation of our £32 billion fashion industry," he reminded us.

“I had a background where no one really did art and design but I was encouraged to do it,” he added post-show. Here he was encouraging the next generation; if he could do it, so could they. As they excitedly sat front row in their school uniforms -- usurping fashion’s somewhat jaded editors who normally sit in those seats -- the designers and artists of tomorrow dressed in their school colours as they watched on as Richard Quinn, the label and the man, further blossomed into one of our most exciting, fully-formed talents. "It made me think that maybe I want a job in fashion one day," we overheard one student excitedly proclaim after the London Philharmonic Orchestra played their last note and his high glamour girls had sashayed (and slayed) their way backstage. Now, that's the real show review.

This article originally appeared on i-D UK.