#manonbench: recycled fashion show to shed light on homelessness in London

As London Fashion week comes to a close, a flashmob-style catwalk show is set to wow passers-by on the city’s bustling South Bank.

But this show is not about selling you shoes, dresses or even fascinators – it’s designed to make you think about homelessness in the UK capital.

The event will take place this Sunday, 27 September from around 4pm. It is the brainchild of formerly homeless artist David Tovey and will feature professional models including Lucy Cates, who was last on the catwalk in House of Ccuoco’s LFW show.

David said: “It’s going to be part-theatre production, part catwalk show. I’m an artist, so it’s going to be very creative.

“It’s very couture-style clothing. But the whole catwalk collection is made of material and clothes I found on the street.”

Lucy said that she needed no persuading to get involved in David’s project.

“The amount of homelessness I see in London is really concerning. I wanted to use the position that I’m in to do some good,” she added.

“David is so amazing. He’s so creative and so industrious. He is a true artist. He’s gone through so much but he’s now in a position where he wants to help other people. It’s an honour to be working with him.”

David fits one of his models

David became homeless in 2011 after a series of illnesses. “I was a very successful businessman, then in 2011 I had a stroke,” he said.

“From that it was like a domino effect of bad luck and bad health. I was diagnosed with neurosyphilis. Four days later I was diagnosed with colon cancer. Ten days after that I had a cardiac arrest.

“Then I dealt with depression and anxiety attacks. In 2012, I was diagnosed HIV positive and with hepatitis C.

“I lost my businesses, I lost my home, I lost my partner. All this in like a year.”

Following his run of misfortune, David lived in his car, making enough money to survive by scavenging and reselling furniture that other people had thrown away.

He also struggled with drugs. “On 20 June 2013, I took a massive overdose on Highbury Fields. I was resuscitated. It was crystal meth and it jellified my blood,” he said.

An ex-soldier, David was supported by Veterans Aid to find accommodation, but he credits Cafe Art with helping him to rebuild his life.

He got involved with their homeless photography project last year and won the competition to see his work published in their calendar. From there, he said that art has given him something to live for.

“Art can really help you get through the tough times,” he confirmed.

With Sunday’s fashion show, David hopes to use his creativity to start a conversation around homelessness – and so help people who are going through problems he understands only too well.

Using the hashtag #manonbench, David has invited everyone to join in the conversation through social media.

David and Lucy are ready to rock

This route map shows where the show will take place.