Edinburgh Fashion Week set to strut its stuff

EDINBURGH Fashion week celebrates diversity with a runway show for every age, shape and size, writes Gaby Soutar

Rose Gleedale models a Bryony Strange design at the Museum of Scotland. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Some fashion shows only serve to make you realise that you’re skint, or that you’ll never look stylish if you’re not pick thin, teenage and six foot tall. Then there’s Edinburgh Fashion Week, running from 7-15 March. It will kick off at a specially constructed hub, complete with catwalk, which will be stationed at The Mound over the opening weekend. Part of the This is Edinburgh campaign to promote the capital’s city centre, this huge event is designed to be more accessible than it is exclusive, with fashion inspiration for all sizes, ages, sexes and budgets.

Think the friendly appeal of Gok Wan, rather than the haughtiness of US Vogue’s Anna Wintour.

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In a blur of spring summer 2015 trends, there will be free fashion shows, workshops and tutorials from new designers, high street retailers such as Reiss and River Island, as well as designer boutiques like Tommy Hilfiger, department stores including John Lewis and Jenners, and independents such as Jane Davidson, Frontiers and Walker Slater.

Bryony Strange designs set to feature at Edinburgh Fashion Week. Picture: Contributed

After the opening weekend, the activity will extend beyond the hub and onto whole streets (including Multrees Walk) and into retailers, where participating shops will be offering discounts, free gifts and in-store events (see the below website for details).

We spoke to three of the extremely fashionable people who will be involved.

Bryony Strange

23, fashion designer and 2014 Edinburgh College of Art graduate

“I’ll be curating a show including my graduate collection from last year which was partly inspired by an exhibition that was on at the Fruitmarket Gallery a few years ago, by an artist called Gabriel Orozco, as well as constellation maps from my father’s asteroid photography. Briony Campbell-Ross, Kirsty Frew, Sarah Innes and I will be showing six outfits each.

“Briony Campbell-Ross does quite fun wearable pieces, Kirsty Frew was nominated as Scottish Fashion Awards Graduate of the Year 2014 and Sarah Innes has been featured in Vice magazine – she’s got some amazing bold streetwear. We all have showpieces which are our final looks on the runway, so watch out for those.

For such a small city, Edinburgh has definitely got its style tribes. You’ve got the Old Town and the students with their vintage clothing and slightly more eclectic vibe, then the art school lot from Nicholson Street along to Tollcross. There’s also the New Town and George Street look which is more formal and glamorous.

“As far as shops go, I really like Frontiers boutique in the West End, Whistles is my go-to high street store, and Armstrongs and Herman Brown are really good vintage stores. Fashion Week will bring together all of Edinburgh’s shopping districts and fashion tribes and show them to one audience.”

Strange is directing and showing her work in the ECA show, which closes the launch weekend, at The Mound on 8 March at 5:30pm.

Laura Russell

30, personal shopper and stylist

“I’m a personal shopper and stylist, so I go through clients’ wardrobes, do consultations, then take them shopping. For me, this fashion festival is the perfect fit as it’s really inclusive.

“I will be styling a catwalk show, then hosting demos with real people of different shapes, sizes and ages.

“I’ll be covering spring/summer trends, including double denim – or even triple. That’s going to be massive throughout men’s and women’s fashion this season, thanks to the likes of Tom Ford and Gucci and, high street-wise, Gap, River Island and French Connection.

“It can be quite a risky one, but we’ll be doing it lots of different ways. Also, flares are coming back for next season. We’re going to have to get out of our skinny jeans now, and into quirkier denim pieces too like dresses or tunics. Burberry showed the little denim jacket – everyone’s probably got one of those in their wardrobe.

“The biggest mistakes I see in my job are people not recognising what their body shape is and following every trend. For example, if you’re bigger and want to wear a fur jacket, they can be unflattering. Maybe wear a fur stole instead.

Drowning in fabric is another mistake that I see far too often. With a lot of my clients I take clothing down to slimmer things like fitted trousers and jackets and it takes years off them. A lot of my clients are in their mid thirties but still wearing what they wore when they were 18 years old, when fashion has changed so much over the years.

“The starting point for my clients is usually John Lewis, but I really like Whistles, River Island, Kakao by K and Oliver Bonas too. My favourite brand of jeans are called Salsa, which are available at House of Fraser. They’ve got bum shaping technology.

“My style icons include Olivia Palermo – I’d love to know if she has a stylist or puts things together on her own. David Beckham also looks amazing – he does casual really well, and a lot of guys struggle with that.”

Russell is presenting SS15 Trends for Men and Women at 1:55pm and Dressing for Your Body Shape at The Mound, 3:40pm, both on 7 March.

Lorraine Majdi

55, personal stylist at John Lewis Edinburgh

“The new season collections are like a breath of fresh air for us in retail. On the Sunday, I’ll be speaking about the exclusive collections at John Lewis, including Somerset by Alice Temperley and Kin, and we’ll have models – eight girls and four boys – wearing the clothes. I’ve done these shows many times in store. You get a little bit nervous before you go on stage but, once you’re up there, there’s no holding back.

“It’s easy doing a catwalk show, as you’re dressing models who look fabulous in anything, but when it comes to doing the presentation, that’s for real women and the audience can ask me questions.

“We’ll have tips on how to wear things like blouses. I’ll be demo-ing how to tuck them in and make them look good.

“Baggy trousers are in fashion as well. That’s the Seventies influence. I never thought I’d say this, but it’s back.

“A lot of people are scared to accessorise, they don’t put on anything at all. Even if you’re just adding a simple piece of jewellery, or a lovely scarf, you’ll look as if you know what you’re doing. That’s how I like to dress my ladies and men.

“I cater for all ages – my oldest customer was 102. Usually my client’s problem is a lack of time and they get confused coming into store. They spend their time looking in the wrong places and trying on things that are their usual style. They shop with blinkers on. When they come to see me, I pull out things that they’d never dream of trying on.

“Edinburgh is more conservative than the west coast, but the girls over here are getting more fashionable. Now we’re more on a par with Glasgow, which is exciting. All these reality shows, like The Only Way is Essex and Made in Chelsea, are getting women and men thinking about what they’re wearing.”

Majdi’s presentation, A Season in the City, will be at The Mound on 8 March at noon, johnlewis.com

Covet (20 Thistle Street, 0131-220 0026, thoushaltcovet.com) is holding a Designer Accessory Makeover event on 12 March from 5pm-8pm, £20 including a glass of fizz, mini accessory make-over, a goodie bag and a £20 voucher redeemable on the night.

VIP tickets will be available to purchase (20 per catwalk show) for £10 and include front row seats at one of the fashion shows, goodie bag, cocktail, snacks and access to the VIP area.

From 7-15 March, share your look on Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #EdFashionWeek while out and about in Edinburgh and you could win a shopping trip with Laura Russell and £500 of shopping vouchers.

Godiva has an in-store event on 11 March from 6pm-8.30pm. Try on the clothing, meet designers, have a free drink and get a 15 per cent discount on all purchases on the night.

Gap (84a Princes Street, 0131-220 2846, www.gap.co.uk) has a free Styled By event on 12 March, 7:30pm. A local blogger will present the new collection and give styling tips.