On Saturday night, some of Scotland’s best new design talent joined forces in a catwalk extravaganza at Edinburgh International Fashion Festival.
Saturday was the day I’d been looking forward to most at the Fashion Festival: Future Fashion. Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s fantastic to see the calibre of fashion stars the festival is attracting (more on that soon) but for me, it’s all about the emerging designers. The pop-up design market throughout the day was a great opportunity to meet the designers and see their wares up close, and in the evening it was even more of a treat to see many of their new season designs styled-up on the catwalk, some of which made their debut outing at the Festival.
The catwalk show was held on the top floor of Edinburgh’s City Art Centre in the prestigious setting of the Condé Nast Coming Into Fashion exhibition (which deserves a post all of its own). It certainly made for an inspiring backdrop, with avant-garde designs by some of Scotland’s top up-and-coming designers showcased alongside iconic images created by some of the industry’s most feted fashion photographers.
I nipped backstage to take some behind the scenes shots before the show kicked off – the atmosphere was relaxed but there was a real buzz of anticipation while the designers made their final adjustments and the models got ready to walk. I took the opportunity to take some close-ups of the stunning accessories (more on that to follow), suddenly the beats got louder and it was time to take my position by the catwalk…
Euan McWhirter and Joyce Paton
Contemporary jewellery designer Euan McWhirter’s creations take their inspiration from strong female characters – whether mystical, historical, or part of popular culture. The Central Saint Martins graduate began his career at the revered Erickson Beamon before going on to set up his own label in 2010. The Scottish Fashion Award-nominated designer mixes old world glamour with rock ‘n’roll insouciance, combining diamonds and semi-precious stones with acrylic and Swarovski crystals. His opulent yet edgy creations have won him high profile fans including Kylie Minogue and Laura Bailey.
Scottish Fashion Award-winning milliner Joyce Paton is known for her standout headwear. Each headpiece is individually crafted using exquisite materials and often combines old and new – vintage and modern fabrics, antique treasures such as vintage brooches, and materials discovered by the designer, such as pheasant feathers. As well as her biannual collections, Paton creates bespoke pieces and has joined forces with other luxury brands such as Harris Tweed.
McWhirter and Paton were the perfect pair to open the Future Fashion show; both combine high glamour with imaginative style and witty design, which captivated the audience of style fans. I think the clothes were also by Paton (there wasn’t much information available about which clothes were by which designer, unfortunately), and the accessories certainly complemented the ladylike looks.
Next up were hosiery queens Bebaroque. The ladies behind the label, Mhairi McNicol and Chloe Patience, both hail from Glasgow School of Art, set up the label in 2007 and were awarded their first Scottish Fashion Award the following year. The duo quickly became known for their unique embellished crystal bodywear, which is hand embroidered and printed in Scotland.
High profile fans such as Lady Gaga and Katy Perry have ensured their designs have created more column inches than pairs of tights I’ve laddered (and that’s a lot). From their intricate hosiery to full-on embellished bodysuits, I’ve never come across anything like Berbaroque. Their ultra-feminine brand of glamour is unique, and the sheer craftsmanship behind the designs is seriously impressive.
The designs were a statement in themselves but accessories by Rene Walrus (see Part One), such as her stunning leather rose tiaras, proved the perfect accompaniment.
Next up was Scottish fashion favourite, Obscure Couture. Combining elements of British sub-cultures with a generous helping of fun, the label designed by Glasgow-based duo Jenn Coyle and Lyndsay Pagan has a reputation for fearless fashion. They describe their designs as street/stagewear ‘for the introverted extrovert’ offering something truly individual, and are against high street mass production – their limited-run couture pieces are all made in the UK.
Obscure Couture showcased their autumn/winter 13 collection ‘A Weekend in Hell’ at Future Fashion. The vampish, all black collection (unusual for the technicolour duo) gave focus to contrasting texture, sleek silhouettes and graphic lines. It was certainly a crowd-pleaser, and (I think) one of their best yet.
My favourite look was this spotted number (you know I’m a sucker for a polka dot). It’s clear to see why they’ve been nominated in the Young Designer category of the Scottish Fashion Awards three times in a row now – they’re really doing something nobody else is.
Luxury cashmere label Cameron Taylor also showcased its autumn/winter offerings on the Future Fashion catwalk. Lisa Cameron Taylor founded her eponymous label in 2001, drawing on her extensive experiences in the knitwear industry. Her designs give the finest quality craftsmanship a contemporary twist and are stocked by high fashion boutiques around the world. Cameron Taylor pioneered 6 ply cashmere, which has become something of a trademark, and is produced by highly skilled workers at a small factory in the Scottish borders. I loved the retro, seventies vibe of the autumn/winter collection, which was enhanced by the accessories – knee-high boots and fedora hats.
I introduced you to Rebecca Torres in my previous post, and in the Future Fashion catwalk show she unveiled her spring/summer 14 collection ‘Dimensions’. The title hinted at the collection’s preoccupation with shape and graphic style, which updated Torres’ signature sculptural, body conscious aesthetic.
The bold, colour clashing designs were suitably summery, tempered with cool greys and bright whites. This was complemented by graphic pattern, while strategically placed panels and lines created a slimming, almost trompe l’oeil effect. Torres’ collection was a definite highlight for me – her designs encapsulate the vibrancy of the Scottish fashion scene.
Mairi McDonald is hotly tipped as Scotland’s next big thing. Her designs epitomise the rebellious spirit of rock ‘n’ roll, married with the finest craftsmanship: beautiful Scottish lace, laser cut lamb nappa and suede and delicate knitwear embellished with Swarovski crystals.
McDonald began her career at Julien MacDonald (another Mac/McDonald!), then at Givenchy and Boudicca as well as other high profile fashion labels. She went on to set up her own label and is part of the Fashion Foundry programme; her star is surely on the ascent. McDonald’s vintage-inspired designs epitomise laid-back luxury with such incredible detail, yet are intrinsically wearable. This section of the show was certainly a highlight for me as McDonald’s designs are probably the closest to my own style.
I also introduced you to the talented Jacob Birge in yesterday’s post; his avant-garde designs closed the Future Fashion show. The Edinburgh-based designer graduated from Edinburgh College of Art just last year, but has already caught the attention of fashion commentators with his bold signature style.
Birge is known for his futuristic use of high-tech materials such as neoprene, which he employs generously in this collection, creating sculptural, oversized silhouettes. The craftsmanship is just stunning too; I shared a close-up of the white leather cutwork dress yesterday – all the holes are punched by hand – and this looked even more impressive modelled in real life.
Edinburgh International Fashion Festival founder Anna Freemantle closed – and stole – the show in one of Birge’s leather cutwork creations. I know she’s a big fan of Jacob Birge and this dress could have been made for her.
Future Fashion brought together an exceedingly talented bunch of designers, I think you’ll agree. And that was just a slice of Scottish talent on show.
Which was your favourite collection? Did you go to the Future Fashion show?