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Refugees Are Changing Parisian Fashion For The Better
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Refugees Are Changing Parisian Fashion For The Better

Picture of Jade Cuttle
Updated: 21 March 2018
Parisian fashion isn’t all Louis Vuitton, Coco Chanel and Christian Dior, the luxury chic brands whose legacies seem set to last forever. Rather than insisting on their unrivalled prestige, a new initiative provides refugees with donated clothes, allowing them to realise their creative potential for a fashion show in Paris. The Hope Walk is a groundbreaking and generous initiative from the Good Chance Theatre, a temporary arts centre that offers asylum seekers in Paris the chance to participate in inspiring creative workshops.

Previously, these disciplines have included theatre, music, dance, sculpture and poetry, but most recently, the creative opportunities available have extended to fashion.

Refugees partnered with students from the French capital’s International Fashion Academy to test their creative design potential, a project that has been in the making for several weeks.

The fashion pieces on show were hand-crafted entirely from unused donated clothes given to Emmaüs Solidarité, one of the largest humanitarian charities in France.

Not only does this organisation offer a safe space to socialise and get creative, but it also provides a welcome relief from the administrative and emotional stress of refugee life.

Eritrea Refugee Camp Somalis Huts Landscape Tents
Refugee Camp Tents | © Maxpixel

‘They tell us that the theatre gives them a reason to get out of bed, and to hope for the future again,’ say the organisers, as reported in The Guardian. This is why they named the Saturday showcase ‘Hope Show’, an event open to the Parisian public to spread awareness.

Solidarity with refugees | © Haeferl / Wikicommons

The people involved hailed from a wide range of countries and included Nouredine from Sudan, Pape from Senegal, Waga from Guinea, and Muhammad Ali from Afghanistan.

These budding creatives not only collaborated in the design and creation of several vibrant outfits, but they also participated in the application of makeup and being models.

More than a thousand refugees live on the streets of north Paris, according to Médécins sans Frontières (MSF), and this number is only growing.

“La Bulle” has become a particular hotspot for migrants with nowhere else to go, and receives an average of 80 new refugees and migrants every day.

Afghan refugees, living on the Canal Saint Martin | © Evan Bench / Wikicommons

Up until August 2017, “La Bulle” had been a makeshift camp for over 2,700 refugees. But when the camp was dismantled for the 35th time, some 2,000 of the migrants were moved to temporary shelters.

Initiatives run by places like Good Chance Theatre are vital to the successful reintegration of migrants into society.

Coming to the end of the initial three-month residency, the organisation is looking for further support to continue its work.