Loose Debra equals fashion and freedom. In particular freedom from the bra, of course. In a quest to lose it altogether (my bra, what else?) I went along to Charleston Festival. Charleston is the one-time country retreat of the Bloomsbury Set, where every internal wall, every chair, every bit of garden, shows an overlap between art and decoration - a casual and beautiful refusal to be restrained by convention.
I hoped to find inspiration from Justine Picardie (ed of Harpers Bazaar), and designers Bella Freud, Erdem and Roksanda Ilincic, talking about the 'Language of Fashion'. Maybe these forward-thinking fashionistas could give me some ideas for bra-free style? Or at least I could drink in the Bohemia of Charleston and not give a monkeys whether I was wearing the damn thing or not. 'If I were a boy', as Virginia thought, and Beyonce sung...
Bella Freud, she of the outspoken jumpers (see pic), said that she often used to dress very deliberately like a boy. A boy as opposed to a man. She said she used to favour trousers, shirts and waistcoats for everyday dressing, and aimed for 'boyishness' as opposed to 'manliness', as boyishness implied "something that wasn't quite finished yet". I immediately warmed to Ms. Freud who was clearly "bovvered' when it came to bras - what would be the point of wearing one at all under a shirt and waistcoat when you were aiming for boyishness? Sod all point, that's what.
Justine Picardie spoke knowledgeably about Virginia Woolf, whom she quoted as saying in Orlando (a gender-fluid novel if ever there was one), "Clothes change our view of the world and the world's view of us". Yep, I see less limits when not wearing a bra, I thought, but I wonder what the world makes of me, all braless, brazen and pokey-nippled? (Well, that is, until Loose Debra came along, obviously). Then Justine, clearly picking up on my thoughts across a crowded room, said "women know the feeling of not feeling comfortable in their own skin, and I want to free them from that feeling". Oh wow! Overlooking the black gilet that should have been a red cape, I realised that the woman is clearly a Super Hero with telepathic powers and is on a noble mission to save female kind from the dreaded indentations of straplines.
On to Erdem, Designer of the Year 2015 no less. What could he do to break the chains that bind and relieve us of the bra? Justine looked at Erdem, the only man on the panel and one of the few in the room, and said, "What defines you is your respect for women rather than your objectification of women". Of course Erdem doesn't need to see bras under his collections! He wants to "create my own universe" with his fashion shows and use the environment to inform the audience about his direction. His last collection with patterns inspired by cross-sections of greenhouses and botanical drawings, was made after he read about Marianne North, the famous English botanist. Bras, pah!! Who needs them under patterns like that? (see pic).
Roksanda Ilincic went even further. "Women have been brainwashed to wear clothes given to them by a man" she said. (You'll remember readers, in Blog No 1, that the brassiere was indeed invented by a man). Whereas Ilincic, with her beautiful designs, often inspired by works of art, says that we don't have to "show skin, wear short dresses or shout to be feminine". Had she gone on, I know she would have said 'If you're wearing a bra to prove you are a woman, just lose it. Go on, throw it in the bin!' It's just that she was a bit short on time.
I wish I could end this post by saying "Whereupon I took off my bra and flung it down on the grass right there in the beautiful garden at Charleston". But I was wearing a tight T-shirt, as luck would have it, and wish I'd heeded this website's suggestions first. Next time...
Karen Dobres, Co-founder and Chief Freedom Fighter, Loose Debra