Fashion

Model Valeria Garcia makes history using a breast pump on the catwalk at LFW

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Anna Brech
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London Fashion Week has a proud history when it comes to pushing cultural change - and now mums are in the spotlight, with an act that normalises breastfeeding.

Whether it’s Grace Jones dancing on the roof of a limousine or Vivienne Westwood piggy-backing a model down the runway, London Fashion Week has form when it comes to rogue catwalk moments.

And the most anarchic of fashion weeks also has a rich history of making fashion political; think Katherine Hamnett’s anti-war protest of 2003, or Christopher Raeburn entering the Brexit debate. 

So, it’s reassuring to see this long tradition of boundary-pushing continue this week with Valeria Garcia, who became the first model in history to use a breast pump on a runway.

Mum-of-two Garcia walked the catwalk at the Marta Jakubowski fashion show while wearing the Elvie pump, a silent hands-free device that connects to an app to allow breastfeeding women to express milk on the move. 

Valeria Garcia wearing a breast pump at London Fashion Week

Garcia, who gave birth to her son Anton in June, made a clear statement around the visibility of mums as London Fashion Week got underway in the capital this weekend.

In an age where a quarter of mums in UK say they’ve been made to feel uncomfortable for breastfeeding in public, Garcia’s catwalk foray says there’s zero to be ashamed about, as she normalises what is, after all, a very natural act.

It’s also a clever way of bringing the personal and professional together (in high fashion, no less) at a time where many women feel conflicted between the two - especially when it comes to the demands of parenthood.

Being a mum, in other words, shouldn’t be something separate or hidden away from what you do in your career; one is inevitably part of the other.

Garcia’s  statement mirrors that of model Mara Martin, who breastfed her five-month-old daughter on the runway while modelling Sports Illustrated swimwear earlier this year.

“I hope to normalize breastfeeding because it’s a natural thing women can do for their babies,” Martin, who was widely applauded for the move, wrote at the time. 

“I think women should be able to feed their babies how they want, when they want and where they want. End of discussion!”  

Garcia’s outing this week is not the first time London Fashion Week has been used to drive forward visible cultural change.

In February 2017,  British design duo Teatum Jones cast two disabled models to open their LFW show, inspired by “a love of human stories and and rejecting the idea of the perfect human form”.  

In the same season, Simone Rocha took aim at age discrimination with a show that featured Italian model Benedetta Barzini, 73, on the runway.  

Images: Getty and Instagram

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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.

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