Rankin forces Fashion Week to face up to its limited view of 'beauty' with Portrait Positive

All images courtesy of the artist. Via Creative Boom submission.

The fashion industry will be brought face-to-face with its narrow standards of beauty this London Fashion Week, through a unique collaboration between world-renowned photographer Rankin, designer Steven Tai and the charity Changing Faces.

The Portrait Positive project, conceived by Stephen Bell, will challenge perceptions of beauty through a series of striking images of 16 different women with visible facial and bodily differences.

Shot by Rankin and dressed in designs by Steven Tai, three of the women from the portrait series took to the catwalk in Steven Tai’s presentation at London Fashion Week yesterday. This was followed by a panel discussion at London Fashion Weekend about the fashion industry’s limited conceptions of beauty.

The Portrait Positive images have been collated into a book of the same name – proceeds from the sales of which will go to support Changing Faces’ work across the country.

The Portrait Positive book will launch on Tuesday 25 September and will be available to purchase on the Portrait Positive website as well as select stores, boutique and art spaces across the UK.

Changing Faces is the leading charity for 1.3 million children, young people and adults in the UK who have a medical condition, mark or scar that makes them look different.

Approximately one in 111 people in the UK have a significant visible facial difference, despite being largely absent from representations in fashion and the media.

Rankin said: "Living with a visible difference you are literally judged by your appearance and compared to what I think is a fake idea of what it is to be beautiful or even ‘normal’. The only way to shift this perception is to talk about it and face it head-on.

"Our amazing subjects are dealing with these issues with grace, dignity and strength. It was an absolute honour to work with them and try to create a discussion around what it is to be beautiful. To me, they are all unique."

Becky Hewitt, CEO Changing Faces, said: "As a charity that supports people with visible differences, we are delighted to be part of a movement that challenges the way the fashion industry represents the difference."

Becky adds: "We want to break down barriers and change the narrow view of beauty that exists in society, especially in the fashion industry.

"These amazing images by Rankin will help to address the stigma around ‘looking different’ and show that true beauty is about being proud to be yourself. We want to see brands, publications and designers work with real people of all appearances so that fashion is accessible to all."

Discover more at www.changingfaces.org.uk.