“Wearin’it Together!” A Journey of Inclusion Through Fashion

Belgrade – On Friday March 15, the International Organization for Migration, together with the VII Academy, officially opened the exhibition “Wearin’it Together! A Journey of Inclusion through Fashion”, at the Museum of Applied Art in Belgrade. 

Building on its premiere in Sarajevo last year, the photographic exhibition features photos from the internationally renowned photographer Franco Pagetti, captured in the Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia in July 2023, and featuring fashion garments made in the Temporary Reception Centre Ušivak (Bosnia and Herzegovina) jointly by migrants and local designers as well as pieces of the Dolce & Gabanna Fall’s Winter 2016 Campaign.

The exhibition is also showcasing a captivating artistic installation, with several No Nation Fashion garments, displayed to celebrate the creativity and talent of migrants and local designers. Alongside, “Wearin’it together” partnered with Jase King who is exhibiting a selection of his creations.

The exhibition was opened by the H.E. Luca Gori, Ambassador of the Italian Republic to Serbia and Ms. Biljana Jotić, Director of the Museum of Applied Art, and followed by a panel discussion in presence of Franco Pagetti, Jean-Baptiste Andreani, CEO of the International Fashion Academy (IFA) in Paris, Ms. Aleksandra Krstić, Associate Professor, Faculty of Political Science, University of Belgrade and Lola Brigitte Inagbire, “Wearin’it together” model.

Through the lens of high fashion juxtaposed with authentic settings, the exhibition invites contemplation on migrant inclusion, challenging established narratives surrounding migration, and fostering a debate on solutions.

“Wearin’it together” is much more than a photo exhibition, it is a bold step towards a different look at migration, a journey of inclusion through fashion, one where migrants are human beings with talents, aspirations and most importantly, skills,” said Laura Lungarotti, IOM Western Balkans Coordinator and added that migration and fashion represent an unusual combination which enables regular pathways for integration as well as glamour.

News images of migration around the world have usually portrayed migrants and refugees as victims or threat to societies, borders, health and security, perpetuating polarizing narratives and stereotypes associated with migration. The visualization of migration in Western Balkans’ influential mainstream media has been limited to a representation of migrants as people in need of assistance, accentuating administrative and political aspects. One of the panelists, Aleksandra Krstić from the Faculty of Political Sciences in Belgrade confirmed in her research that such narratives influence negative public opinion and contribute to challenges for the inclusion of migrants into the society of the Western Balkans:

"Academic research is the basis for understanding the needs of migrants and how society responds to them, but also an insight into the ways in which migrants contribute to society," said dr Aleksandra Krstić and pointed out that it is important to bridge the gap between science, industry, society and migrants with sustainable solutions.

“Wearin’it together!” takes a bold step in approaching the topic of migration through innovative, creative and refreshing perspective, spotlighting individual stories, personalities and achievements of people on the move in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. Through a creative fusion of fashion and urban spaces, the campaign employes attractive visual and storytelling techniques to convey complex issues of identity, migration and encourage viewers to reflect on their preconceptions. The exhibition aims to spark a meaningful discussion on inclusion and the potential of fashion. 

"I would like to continue my studies, but fashion will always be an integral part of my life. This experience made me feel beautiful, visible and important," said Lola Brigitte, the model of the campaign.

Fashion can serve as a powerful medium for self-expression, allowing individuals to communicate their identities, aspirations, and cultural affiliations. Through this lens, No Nation Fashion (NNF) brand, powered by IOM, recognizes the transformative potential of fashion as a universal language of art and innovation. It envisions fashion as a bridge that transcends borders, connecting people from diverse backgrounds and experiences and creating opportunities for both migrants and host communities. By harnessing the creative potential of fashion, NNF endeavors to construct more inclusive societies and celebrate diversity.

"There is no strict division between fashion photographers,  war photographers - we all take pictures of people," said Franco Pagetti, the author of the exhibition, and added that working with migrants has ennobled him.

"I enjoyed taking pictures, not only of the No Nation Fashion garments, but of the people wearing them."

The unique approach of the campaign offers individual stories of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, their remembrance of the past and strivings for the future, therefore breaking stereotypical media representations and embracing the transformative phenomenon that is migration, people’s differences, diversity and multiculturality. 

"Instead of asking what fashion can do for migration, we can also ask what has fashion industry gained from migration at the global level," said Jean-Baptiste Andreani, director of IFA in Paris.

"In that sense, the transformative power of fashion should be purposeful and inpsirational."

The exhibition is open until March 30 at the Museum of Applied Art in Belgrade, before embarking on its journey of inclusion through fashion to the EU Parliament in Strasbourg in April 2024.

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