Saturday, 4 June 2011

Brighton Frocks Show 2011

Brighton Frocks Show 2 June 2011Written by Claire Jacobs
Thursday night saw the start of Brighton Fashion Week’s catwalk shows at the unlikely, but truly beautiful, St Martin’s Church on Lewes Road.

The Brighton Frocks Show was advertised as: “a dramatic and visually astounding theatrical performance showcasing off-the-wall designer collections in an unconventional manner” and this most certainly was the case.

On arrival there were goodie bags for some of the lucky attendees from BFW’s make-up sponsor Jemma Kidd who said of the event: “it’s great to be involved with projects like BFW and to be able to support the next generation of make-up artists and design talent.”

The best dressed had the chance to have their photos professionally taken, and the audience was filled with fashionistas, including a lady who wore a fabulous dress made entirely of Lidl supermarket carrier bags.

As a press member, I was lucky enough to have a great seat at the very end of the catwalk, meaning I was able to see the beautiful, extreme and at times, crazy, designs up close and personal.

The audience were treated to a couple performing a stunning ballet piece, before the show opened with a bold, circus-freak style collection from Yorkshire designer Katie Newsam, entitled ‘Candied Taunt’.

Picture loud circus music, a back-flipping model and a row of models walking like broken dolls wearing stripes, tiny hats and lots of ruffled and looped material.

Katie described the collection as being “the sweet and the sinister! The evil that lurks behind the face paint”. Circuses can be both fun and scary, which Katie wanted to encompass, and by looking at her designs she pulled this off successfully.

Next up, Red Mutha took to the stage with their ‘Mutha Vuggaz’ collection. Red Mutha is famous for rebuilding used clothes (a trend known as ‘upcycling’), and after 20 years in the industry, they continue to create innovative and fresh designs.

The designers describe their latest collection as: “decapitating the high street’s Brand Bland medusa head with a pair of blunt shears”, which is evident through their use of bright, bold, mish-mash and slashed styles which featured computer console remote controls and microphones as jewellery, as well as the unforgettable teddies attached to knee high socks which were my personal favourite.

The room then transformed into the Egyptian desert, with ambient music in the background for Afton Ayache’s collection called ‘Aishaa l’egyptienne des rues...’ translated as ‘the Egyptian women of the street'. After showing her first collection at graduate fashion week, Afton is now getting more experience within the industry as a part time designer/stylist.

The bold, geometric patterns combined with natural, earthy tones conveyed Afton’s love of Egyptian architecture and North African culture. For me, this is one of the more day-to-day wearable collections, and I can happily see myself in her amazing bold coloured tights with glittery motifs.

After this tranquil experience, we were taken back in time by Natalie Wileman for Former Glory, the label that re-work vintage dresses, with an homage to some iconic fashion greats whose careers ended abruptly through tragedy or in some cases, by not thinking before they spoke!

Firstly was a tribute to Gianni Versace, with the gold and bodycon designs that had a very retro 80s feel, before zombie-like models dragged their feet down the catwalk in amazing designs honouring the late, great Alexander McQueen. The collection was completed by tipsy Parisian-styled models wearing huge, bright, ruffled designs to make the newly fallen Dior star John Galliano proud.

Leading on from this, was theatrically trained designer, Sarina Poppy’s new collection entitled ‘The Deco Collection’, which was promoted using a beautiful 1920s silent movies dream sequence, with the main theme being of time, so some magnificent clocks were also featured.

The colours used were in-keeping with the black and white movie and sepia photograph theme, and the fabrics were made from delicate silks, laces and antique trimmings, which added to the 1920s ambience of the outfits.

After a quick break, I Am. Ralph took to the stage, with his ‘WHO NEEDS A SUPERHERO?’ collection, inspired by well known superheroes, from Superman to Pokemon.

The London-based designer said of his latest collection; “I love the bright, bold, blocky colours of these super-icons and I have incorporated them into my designs.” His designs have sportswear engineered details in them to make them wearable for outdoor activities, making them practical as well as fun.

The next collection had a ‘Beside the Seaside’ theme, which is perfect for us Brightonians, and the swimwear featured was the epitome of classic Britishness.

Bugsy Pants (aka Brighton-based Claire Pimbley) create original bikinis with crazy combinations, including bikinis featuring mis-matched tops and bottoms, and the fantastic newspaper bikini to match your takeaway chips from the pier!

The range ended with a whacky scene consisting of models wearing Wills and Kate masks, walking hand in hand whilst wearing union jack swimwear; - You cannot get more British than that!

Joy Williams ‘Hybrid Walkway’ collection then graced the catwalk. The designs were based on Joy’s experiments in trying to create pattern and texture on latex without having to get the fabric printed. This was achieved through using liquid and sheet latex and embellishment.

There was a very futuristic feel to these looks, but the designs appeared still wearable in everyday life- but possibly only if you have the body for latex that is!

The penultimate designer to feature on the catwalk was Briar-Rose Kelleher, with her collection ‘Marie Antoinette too DMT’. Whilst the pieces are influenced by this 18th century era, the story is that Antionette goes to a party and finds a new persona through taking a psychedelic drug, and the collection conveys the journey the drug takes her on.

Last, but by no means least, was Secret Apple Yard (Charlotte Appleby)’s ‘Charged Up’. Technology and fashion were fused together for this showcase, and featured electrically charged characters to create a futuristic sci-fi tale about “the attunement and manipulation of energy forces”.

The outfits looked out of this world in the electroluminescent lighting in the Church setting, and some of the models looked almost mechanical like, showing obvious influences from the film ‘Metropolis’.

So what’s next for BFW? It is in its second year, having originally grown from a one-off show, to a fashion weekend, to then last year becoming an entire week.
More than 10,000 fashionistas visited last year’s BFW, and with all the things they have planned, you can see why.

This year’s week began with a benefit concert to raise awareness of charity War Child, before this show kick-started the catwalk shows. The following day saw The Couture Catwalk Show, and today’s daylong event, The Ready To Wear Show, enabled visitors to purchase pieces hot off the catwalk.

There have also been after show parties, pop-up events across the town, and installations that include a couture exhibition at Brighton Pavillion Museum that will continue to feature until July, which I will hopefully be checking out this week, so watch this space...

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