“Courage calls to courage everywhere.”

So reads the battle cry of a new statue by Gillian Wearing depicting renowned Suffragist Millicent Fawcett, and unveiled yesterday in Parliament Square – the first female figure to be commemorated as such.

To further mark the occasion, the artist has collaborated with Matches Fashion and Bella Freud on an exclusive design that combines the latter’s signature slogan motifs with the powerful language of women’s suffrage.

As the look is revealed – from which a percentage of the proceeds will be donated to the Fawcett Society – we speak to Gillian and Bella to see what the poignancy of yesterday’s historic announcement means to them.

Gillian Wearing
"Millicent Fawcett was the most pivotal person campaigning to get the vote for women in 1918, and she fought hard to ensure that it went to as many women as they would allow back then. She may have been a little overlooked in more-popular suffrage history, because she was not a personality-led leader – but, for those who know her achievements, this recognition is long overdue and will focus the spotlight deservedly back on her.

Sometimes, you hear women saying that they don’t believe in feminism or wouldn’t consider themselves to be one, but if you were to take the rights fought for by feminists away, I am absolutely sure that they would change their minds.  It is easy to take for granted the freedoms that we have now, but these came at the cost of others who selflessly spent their lives campaigning for a better, more equal existence.

This also chimes with today’s activists, as well as more recent history like the Women’s Lib of the 1970s. Now, equal pay has to be one of the main objectives, as does equal visibility in the workplace ­– whether that is at a CEO level in a corporate company, or by more women directors at the Cannes Film Festival.

The statue of Millicent Fawcett will hold a banner with the words, "courage calls to courage everywhere." These are her words, and they are a timeless and universal reminder of the courageous acts of others."

Bella Freud
"The Suffragettes and Suffragists were women with so much courage. Making people feel uncomfortable about the status quo can’t have been the most fun thing in the world; that takes a thick skin. Now, there’s a whole new generation with different ideas about how to do that, but essentially the goal is the same – caring about each other, women and men too. It’s a friendly thing across the board.

That said, women’s equality hasn’t moved forward for a long time and now everyone’s fed up. It’s time for another huge push, and that’s what’s happening.

Designing the collection, I tuned into the feeling of women and our different ways of protesting and demanding change. When people are demonstrating, it is a serious business – but there remains a feeling of joy and camaraderie which is so uplifting."

Shop the Bella Freud x Gillian Wearing design at Matches Fashion, here: