Welcome to The Just Be Revolution. Here’s how it all began…
By Vicky Kidd-Gallichan.
This time last year, I was making some huge changes to my fashion label, Rockstars and Royalty. I was getting ready to launch an online range of customisable special occasion clothing and accessories. As I was planning the range and the website, I knew that I wanted Rockstars and Royalty to be inclusive and welcoming to everyone. I knew that the majority of my customers didn’t look like the homogenous models that you see over and over again in fashion magazines and campaigns and that a lot of them couldn’t relate to the brands and magazines who were only using these models. I wanted my customers to come to the website and see themselves represented. I wanted Rockstars and Royalty to be somewhere that my customers could confidently shop for the clothes that they wanted to wear, regardless of their dress size, body type, age, or gender.
Last September, I was lucky enough to do a photo shoot for with the incredible model Stefania Ferrario. Stefania has modelled for Dita von Teese, among many others, and is widely renowned for her androgynous shoots. Stefania is, quite ridiculously, classified as a ‘plus sized’ model, despite only being a Aus size 12. She started the ‘drop the plus’ campaign in response to this. Stefania is also an advocate for mental health issues and awareness. I was completely thrilled when she agreed to shoot with me.
The shoot that Stefania and I planned, which was shot and edited by award-winning Canberra photographer Lori Cicchini, had Stefania meeting herself. One Stefania was androgynous wearing a suit and a tuxedo, the other Stefania was glamourous in a sequin gown and a lace dress. The images were originally planned to showcase Stefania’s diverse talent as a model and to show that Rockstars and Royalty was making customisable accessories to match the dresses.
When I saw Lori’s final edits of the images, I knew that there was a powerful message within them, that they were more than just beautiful images to promote the creatives involved. Everyone agreed. We decided that they should become part of a series. We planned a second set of images, this time using a male model, Joshua, playing the roles. In these images, one Joshua is wearing a tuxedo, the other has glamorous hair and makeup and is wearing a long gown.
I started to form an idea of what we could use the images for and where the series could possibly lead. I knew that I wanted to use them to try and, firstly, encourage people to be themselves and, secondly, to encourage tolerance of others. It got me thinking about how often we see people being judged or discriminated against, based on their appearance alone. I thought about all the times my alternative and goth friends had been beaten up purely based on their clothing or makeup choices. I thought about all the times that I’d seen both kids and adults being picked on for not fitting in with what was ‘normal’. I thought about all the other situations, both in real life and online, where I’d seen people being discriminated against, teased, bullied, beaten up or worse based purely on them being who they are or expressing themselves how they wanted to. I know too many people who hide their real selves away because of the fear of other people’s reactions or because of bad past experiences.
I started talking to friends about the idea, and everyone had a story, either about themselves, or about someone they knew. The stories ranged from the girl who was teased at school for being overweight and the lifelong insecurities that this has led to, to the gay girl who was disowned by her family when she came out, to the mature lady who confessed that she’d always wanted to dye her hair bright colours and get a tattoo, but had been too afraid of what people would say about someone of ‘her age’ doing such a thing.
I sat and brainstormed ideas with different groups of friends, heard more and more stories, some of which were really shocking, and decided that this had to become a revolution for change and tolerance. It quickly became clear that this needed to become more than just a series of photos. I knew that people needed to hear these stories and more to stand a chance of making a difference. It needed to become a ‘revolution’, a campaign for change, a fight for a better, more tolerant world for everyone. We needed to raise a small army of like-minded people to stand up and speak out. Everyone who I had spoken to about it wanted to be involved.
I also knew that I didn’t want to only share the negative stories. I also wanted to share the positive ones to inspire. I wanted the revolution to encourage people to follow their dreams, to find themselves and their confidence, no matter who they are or where they are.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to my dear friends who believed in my idea and who have joined me to get this revolution started. They all have their own stories to tell and their own reasons for wanting to be involved, and they will all be introduced to you over the next couple of weeks in blog posts and videos. I couldn’t have got this off the ground without their advice, guidance and hard work.
So here we are, at the very start of The Just Be Revolution. We’ll be telling your stories – the good and the bad, the positive and the negative, the beautiful and the ugly. We hope that this will inspire more tolerance and kindness in the world. We hope that this will inspire courage, and give people the confidence to proudly be who they are or who they want to be.
Welcome to The Revolution. Join the Just Be army. Together we will fight for a more tolerant future for everyone.
All photos from the 'Just Be' series.
Photographer - Lori Cicchini for Loriana Fotografia
Designer - Rockstars and Royalty
Hair - Jeanice Branch for Guerilla Hair
Makeup - Kimi Sanders for What Would Blair Do?