The change of season from summer to winter is never a welcomed one, but there is one silver lining – the return of West Coast Cooler FASHIONWEEK of course, which brings all the cosy winter fashion must-haves to help see fashionistas through the cold and miserable winter months.
Enthusiastic fashion fans were out in force at the Fitzwilliam Hotel in Belfast last month, for the launch of the city’s sixteenth FASHIONWEEK event. The brunch event showcased a selection of looks from participant retailers and designers while director Cathy Martin outlined key looks for the season ahead from Ireland’s favourite fashion event.
This season’s events will run over four days from 10-13 October across various venues in Belfast but with the key catwalk shows returning to the iconic Ulster Museum in Botanic Gardens. Following on the success of spring/summer shows, the contemporary and minimalist atrium at the historic building will once again be transformed into a fashion haven as hundreds of fashion fans gather to celebrate winter style.
Cathy Martin, director of FASHIONWEEK added: “We have a very busy schedule this season – and we have teamed up with Belfast City Council’s Restaurant Week to share some events, which is great for the city as a whole – but ideal for foodies and fashionistas”.
“In terms of trends to look out for this season, the key colours and patterns include deep reds and burgundy, pale pink hues, plaid and leopard print. Texture is important too and we can expect to see leather, velvet, lace and chiffon as well as lots of embellishments. As for shapes, design and cut – the turtleneck and poloneck are both back, and new this season are sexy thigh high splits on skirts and dresses as well as large oversized coats and capes.”
The city’s independent retailers and boutiques will kick off FASHIONWEEK on Thursday 10 October with CRUISE, Liberty Blue, Blush, Helen McAlinden and Diamond Dolls in Banbridge all confirmed to take part. In a move off the runway this season, leading designer Una Rodden will also host an exclusive and intimate fashion installation that evening, where her fashion will become art, in an alluring display of fabric, textile and texture.
Then for the ever popular High Street catwalk show, which sees the return of Next, Jigsaw, Mexx, CastleCourt, M&S, Oasis, Heaton’s and George at Asda – among others.
Saturday 12 October sees a busy, jam packed itinerary of chic events. The popular Fashion Souk at Spire’s Mall will be selling vintage and previously owned pieces from 10am – 2pm, swiftly followed by a delicious Fashion Tea at the Merchant Hotel where designer emporium CRUISE will showcase their high end collections from Victoria Beckham, Armani, Vivienne Westwood and Marchesa, among others. This up-close-and-personal look at the season’s top end designer collections is an intimate and indulgent way to enjoy fashion at its most elegant.
Saturday evening will play host to some unique creations from our local talent with the popular designer night. This season Nor Lisa, Goddess and Swift, Ruedi Maguire and Grainne Maher, among others, will all take part; dazzling crowds with their creative and quirky designs which never fail to impress the crowd. Lucky students from across Northern Ireland will also feature on the catwalk with selected outfits from the secondary school competition Junk Kouture, which challenges students to create fashion art from junk and recycled materials.
Also on the Saturday schedule is the ever popular highlight of the Diet Coke Design Award, which is back for the fourth year running. The award seeks to reward aspiring design talent – from design students to style fans with a passion for fashion. Three stylistas will be shortlisted to have their ideas and sketches made up by designer Una Rodden and showcased on the catwalk at the finale night’s show on Saturday 12 October, where judges will decide which lucky fashionista will go on to win a mini scholarship to the London College of Fashion plus a shoot with photographer Khara Pringle.
Last but by no means least is Style Sunday, which will take place this season at SHU restaurant on Sunday 13 October from 1-5pm in association with Mencap. This glamorous four course gourmet luncheon accompanies trend forecasts, a mini fashion show and seasonal style tips from some of the country’s top style experts. It is very often sold out within days of being launched. Tickets cost £45.00 per person. Places can be booked directly through the restaurant on 028 9038 1655.
Once again, hair partner Andrew Mulvenna and his team will be tending to the tresses of all the models throughout the week and if previous seasons are anything to go by, we can expect to be blown away by his creativity. Andrew said, “This autumn/winter I’ll be focusing on four key looks for women.
“‘The Lady Undone’ is a quirky asymmetric version of Dusty Springfield but with a fresher look; ‘The Woman Warrior’ is all about volume – high at the sides, with hair pulled back from the face, channelling the power blow-dry which was really popular in the 90s; ‘Church Girl’ is a sweet angelic centre parted look in the style of grace Kelly only sleeker and more modern. Lastly, we’ll be exploring with ‘The Tuck In’ which is the practice of creating a shorter look by tucking length into collars as well as making use of braids to create necklaces and collars.”
Throughout the week, breast cancer charity Pretty‘n’Pink will collect funds at all shows to support women who need to feel better about themselves after undergoing debilitating breast cancer surgery or treatment.
The full show schedule and design competition details are all available online at www.belfastfashionweek.com along with details of this season’s trends plus links to all participant retailers and sponsors. Catwalk tickets, which cost £20 (or £25 for a limited number of exclusive front row seats), are available from the Belfast Welcome Centre on 028 9024 6609 or via the website. Ticket price includes a fabulous goodie bag and a refreshing West Coast Cooler.
Schedule of shows:
- Thursday 10 October 8pm, Designer Boutiques show
- Friday 11 October – Fashion Friday Lunch demo – James Street South Restaurant
- Friday 11 October 6-8pm Fashionweek at the Fitz! Private cocktail party with prizes up for grabs
- Friday 11 October 8pm High Street Fashion Show, Ulster Museum
- Saturday 12 October 10am – 2pm – Fashion Souk at Spire’s Mall
- Saturday 12 October 2pm – Fashion Tea, CRUISE designer emporium at The Merchant, showcasing Victoria Beckham, Armani, Vivienne Westwood, Marchesa etc
- Saturday 12 October 8pm NI Designers show and winner announcement of the Diet Coke Design Award, Ulster Museum
- Sunday 13 October 1pm – 5pm Style Sunday, SHU Belfast