In her capacity as Patron, the Countess of Wessex held a reception at Buckingham Palace this week to mark the 10th anniversary of the London College of Fashion’s ‘Better Lives’ programme.
Artists, designers, models, entrepreneurs and fashion journalists joined the Countess as she recognised the accomplishments of the programme, which works with brands to make fashion more sustainable, improve social responsibility and promote greater diversity within the fashion community.
Guests included designers Christopher Kane, Giles Deacon and Phoebe English, Vogue online editor Suzy Menkes, plus size model Felicity Haywood, former model Bibi Russell and Alexander McQueen boss Emmanuel Gintzburge.
In a short speech at the reception, the Countess of Wessex spoke about her commitment to the Better Lives programme and praised the college’s partnership with HM Prison Service, which aims to provide training and development opportunities to female prisoners so they can develop during their time in incarceration and then use their new or improved skills on their release to pursue employment and education opportunities.
“To give female prisoners the chance to come out of prison with a genuine job opportunity is a wonderful thing to do,” she said.
The Countess made a visit to HMP Downview Prison and Young Offenders Institution in Sutton last year to find out more about ‘Making for Change’, the fashion training and manufacturing unit jointly established by the Ministry of Justice and London College of Fashion in 2014. The unit teaches female prisoners practical seamstress skills that aims to help them find employment upon release.
During her speech the Countess also joked about her own evolution of style, admitting: “I can’t claim that my track record in fashion has always been as good as it is today, but you know, we learn in time.”
The Countess of Wessex became the first Patron of the London College of Fashion in 2013.