View from the FROW
As Belfast Fashion Week comes to a close, here’s a roundup of the highlights, with all the action from the fashion shows, front rows, backstage and parties.
Arrive in Belfast and check into the Fitzwilliam Hotel. Just enough time to shower and freshen up before the Pre-show Cocktail party in the award winning hotel Bar. Nice way to kick off the festivities!
First stop the Una Rodden private Fashion/Art Installation which was held at the old Meter House in the Gasworks, for a very exclusive handpicked fashion loving crowd. A great start, fab location, beautiful models and stunning clothes. Una is a firm celebrity favourite, her legion of celebrity fans include Nadine Coyle, Mischa Barton and Christine Bleakley, just to name a few. It’s clear to see why they are such huge fans, the clothes are not only glamorous they are also easy to wear, not something one associates with high fashion.
Second stop is the contemporary and minimalist atrium at the iconic Ulster Museum which was overrun with the fashion forward crowd flashing their camera phones capturing their first look at the winter/autumn collections.
And it’s safe to say that Fashionistas can welcome winter with open arms, thanks to the fabulous fashions that have graced the catwalk at BFW. The first show on Thursday evening showcased fashion from a variety of local boutiques including Blush and Jourdan from the Lisburn Road, Liberty Blue, Rio-Brazil, Diamond Dolls in Banbridge, Shauna Fay, Riona Treacy, Larissa Watson and award-winning local milliner and accessories designer Grainne Maher.
This season, designers embraced a kaleidoscope of hues, proving that bright shades are not just for summer. Predominant colours were reds, pastel pink, and emerald greens. Form fitting jackets from summer gave way for billowing, voluminous coats and cute little capes, perfect to wear over this season’s chunky sweaters. Three of autumn’s major trends could be found in the fabrics, which were mostly leather, tartan and animal prints. The collections were both contemporary and chic.
We rounded off the evening with a dinner at Zen, hosted by the inimitable Fashion Week organiser Cathy Martin.
Arriving fashionably late I managed to miss my make up lesson with Fashion Week Make Up artist Paddy McGurgan, luckily he was very understanding, no doubt his experience with fashion divas stands him in good stead.
Just made it round to James Street South for a fabulous Cooking Demo. Which in fact wasn’t a cooking demo, but a lesson in cooking Moules Mariniere and Chocolate mousse with berry fruits. An interesting way to spend a lunch hour! It actually turned out to be great fun. Our chef who taught the lesson Brian was game for a laugh, faced with five women who had abilities ranging from one who can burn water to another who has had lessons in Cordon Bleu, he had quite a challenge. One which he handled quite admirably, the lesson was neither patronising nor too complicated for even a novice to grasp. He had a very nice easy going manner, and managed to put us all at ease. Needless to say the food was delicious!
Quick dash back to the Fitzwilliam to check out and a short twenty minute drive over to the Culloden Hotel and Spa and it was time for this fashionista to relax, lie back and enjoy a lovely massage. Suitably relaxed I headed over to the hotel to check in to the Blackwood Suite.
Just enough time to catch up on some emails, a quick shower and it was time to taxi back to the Ulster Museum for today’s fashion fix. Day two and the outfits showcased were from high street stores including Gap, Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins, Dune and Oasis.
No rest for the fearless Fashionista as its a whistle stop tour of Belfast’s famous Fashion Souk at the Spires Mall. The Souk houses many local designers who have set up their stalls selling the fruits of their labour, as well as stalls selling vintage jewellery and clothes, a great eclectic mix.
After our quick whistle-stop tour it’s time to head to the Merchant Hotel for Afternoon Tea. As we sipped our delicious West Coast Coolers we feasted our eyes on the new collections available in our favourite high street designer store, Cruise. Collections from Victoria Beckham, Gucci, Vivienne Westwood, Diane Von Furstenberg and Pinko, gave us plenty of inspirational ideas to take us from summer through to winter.
Later, at the Ulster Museum, local designers including milliners Grainne Maher and Marie Claire Ferguson alongside Shauna Fay, David Henderson, Nor Lisa, RUEDI, Riona Treacy and Larissa Watson’s Goddess and Swift range, took to the catwalk with their individual collections, showing that Belfast talent is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to flawless fashion design. The collections were fresh and innovative.
‘Trashionista’ students from across Northern Ireland also showcased imaginative outfits designed and made using only recycled materials as part of the Junk Kouture recycled fashion competition. It was quite the fashion extravaganza, each outfit was showcased with a dramatic and dynamic performance. Very entertaining.
The announcement was also made for this year’s Diet Coke Design Awards. The three finalists Lucy McElwaine, Scott Wilson and Gordon Donaldson, had a chance to show the audience their design which brought them into the final three. Designer, Una Rodden turned their sketches and drawings into beautiful garments which were showcased to the crowd. Gordon Donaldson won the award, a mini-scholarship to the London College of Fashion as well as a fashion shoot and having the pleasure of seeing his winning design on the catwalk.
And it’s a wrap for Belfast Fashion Week this is the last fashion lunch for the season. Held at trendy restaurant Shu, we are treated to refreshing cocktails as we arrive in the basement of the restaurant. The cream of Belfast society gathered to raise funds for Mencap, whilst enjoying a fashion show, and a fabulous meal.
Loathe to leave, we managed to catch the flight by the skin of our teeth. Belfast was a blast, the people were as warm and as welcoming as ever. The fashion was fabulous! The events were all terrific and we are very much looking forward to the Tenth Anniversary of Belfast Fashion week which will kick off in March 2014 with a series of special events.
As the first ever consumer fashion week in the UK or Ireland, Belfast has blazed a trail over the last nine years and Organiser Cathy Martin gave us an insight into what to expect for the tenth year in 2014. “We’re looking for a strong face – or maybe ten faces – who represent the ages and stages of fashion and style, to become our campaign faces for next year. Plus our venues, production, stage and set as well as the content of the shows, should be pretty spectacular. Plans are very much afoot right now and we want to give the city and its visitors something sensational to talk about.”