In 2016, thanks to social media, mobile technology and the internet being entirely integrated into our private lives, the lens has never been so obviously angled towards the female form. From women criticising other women, to the Mail Online's sidebar of shame, via Hollywood, Bollywood, Nollywood and back, we're constantly inundated with idealised, airbrushed, nipped and tucked images of what it is to be "female." But at long last a world-famous department store is waging war on anti-woman fashion, beginning, appropriately enough with underwear. To celebrate the opening of Selfridges' new 37,000 ft Body Studio, which is part of a five-year £300 million redevelopment, the Oxford Street megatore commissioned director Kathryn Ferguson to make a short film starring five of London's most exceptional women. The quintet were invited to take an introspective moment to consider our relationship, as women, with our bodies.
The diverse cast is made up of WAH Nails founder Sharmadean Reid MBE; model and body activist Naomi Shimada, trans nail artist Charlie Craggs, Michele Lamy, Rick Owens' muse, wife and creative collaborator and Ruqsana Begum, Muslim Thai Boxing Champion and designer of Hijab activewear range for women. Choreographed by Wayne McGregor MBE, the film is a gorgeous, celebratory and relatable look at how we can be empowered by our own individuality instead of being afraid of it. It's the ultimate antidote to the unbelievable and discriminatory images of women in their underwear that have become so customary on our television screens and magazine pages. "My eyes" says Lamy, "my face" Reid intones – the women calling out their favourite features, as they stretch languidly in a faux-Roman bath interior. Shimada glides through a pool and Begum side-steps an opponent. Ferguson's short is an ode to the marvellous female body – these incredible machines.
In Ferguson's own words:" For so long underwear advertising has been dominated by sexualised imagery of women in heightened poses and impossible designs. When in reality, this is worlds apart from the everyday act of putting on your pants and the choices we make in the morning. I hope the film helps to cut through the noise and show amazing women appearing stripped back, as they are, speaking truthfully. All five have achieved great things and for that reason I wanted to go back to basics - finding out how they felt about themselves. I would love people to feel inspired by these women; leaving them more positive and celebratory of their own bodies." Shimada told us: "I love how different we are and all the things we represent as women. Michelle [Lamy] is someone I respect so much in fashion. She really is a hero of mine who has just gone against the grain her whole life and sets the tone for how she wants to live. I feel like we should be seeing this more! I was talking about it with my amazing, little sister and we both agreed that it feels crazy that every time we see a little diversity in mainstream campaigns it’s still ‘refreshing’. This should be the norm not an anomaly! Look how bomb it can be! So well done Selfridges! Now MORE PLEASE!" The Body Studio space at Selfridges opened this month, offering women’s lingerie, lounge and sleepwear and holds over 150 brands and 5000 options.