Fashion 5 December 2018 | 15:00

Catherine Quin is empowering women through fashion

05 December 2018 15:00

Draped in a crimson gown, Gina Miller, the lawyer who gave parliament the right to have a say on Brexit in 2016, stood in front of an intimate gathering of women, each likewise elegantly dressed, and read an extract from her new book Rise. Poised, regal and commanding the attention of the entire room, her presence was particularly poignant within the context of the current state of the UK government, but Miller didn’t offer her two cents on the matter. Instead, she shared a deeply personal story of what she considered to be one of her ‘failures’, although most would probably consider her resilience in the face of this particular adversity a tremendous triumph. She was, and is, a woman of grace, always standing tall as she takes on life’s toughest challenges.

‘This year I have been particularly struck by a list of exceptional women who have remained resolutely graceful in the face of hostility,’ explained Catherine Quin, the designer responsible for both gathering and outfitting many of the women who were in the room: powerful females from all industries – technology, film, art and politics – including Miller.

Catherine Quin reading an extract from Joan Didion’s 1961 essay on self-respect

The event – which was hosted at Maison Assouline, and included a tea and readings from Miller, Anjuli Pandit and Britta Fernandez Schmidt – marked the launch of Quin’s new collection and ‘Women of Grace’ campaign, but instead of seeing her designs on models, guests were able to see her pieces on real women who inspire her. Unlike your typical fashion show or presentation, everyone left not only coveting one of Quin’s timeless pieces, but also feeling uplifted by the words of their fellow women. It was a fashion event with purpose, felt in everything from the thoughtful care that went into curating the readings, to the bold and powerful shapes of Quin’s designs, that seemed to make the women wearing them hold their heads just that little bit higher.

‘There is not enough grace in the world to even the playing field, from Gina Miller who fought for democracy in the courts over Brexit; to Dr Blasey Ford’s powerful court testimony, and Cressida Dick blazing a trail for diversity in the police force; these women displayed extraordinary graceful defiance that everyone can aspire to,’ said Quin, who is donating 25% of profits from the campaign  to SmartWorks, an initiative that supports women in vulnerable situations get back into work through interview coaching and the provision of clothing.

The final speaker to read was Women for Women Founder Britta Fernandez Schmidt, who opted to read multiple short quotes from Rebecca Campbell’s Rise Sister Rise (2016). Visibly excited by the words she was reading, one quote stood out amongst the rest: ‘We are the granddaughters of the witches they couldn’t burn.’ With almost everyone in the room dressed in floor-length dresses, in hues of rich navy, burgundy and black, it seemed like the perfect way to encapsulate the energy in the room. An example of resilience, it reminded guests of how far feminism has come over the centuries and the women of the past who fought for our rights. Now, it’s our turn to do the same for the next generation – and, in Quin’s outfits, we’ll look damn good doing it.