Anne Cowan: Edinburgh capital location for fashion festival

Edinburgh. Picture: PA
Edinburgh. Picture: PA
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IT might seem odd that Edinburgh, where the old school tie is the most important accessory, is home to an International Fashion Festival.

Glasgow might have been a more obvious choice. As when Harvey Nichols opened its doors in the capital, the question from disappointed Glaswegian fashionistas is once again: “Why?” Surely a temple to designer labels should have been sited where there is a bigger pool of devoted followers and practising believers. The same might be said for a major celebration of fashion.

To use a generalisation as sweeping as a Vivienne Westwood ballgown, Glasgow has long been known for its snappy dressers. Generations of its men and women have lavished time, energy and money on fashion and grooming.

Meanwhile Edinburgh, headquarters of the east-coast establishment, takes a more buttoned-up approach to dress. Not only is it chillier, but 25 per cent of the city’s pupils attend independent schools. That, along with the highest house prices in Scotland, is bound to cramp the style when it comes to spending on life’s luxuries.

Whatever the reason, Edinburgh tends to be more sartorially restrained, smart-casual, sporty, bohemian, conventional or a mixture of the above.

But at festivals’ time, Edinburgh shifts gear, in more ways than one. There is colourful dressing up, posing, preening, showing off and dancing in the streets.

Against the spectacular backdrop of the capital, the Edinburgh International Fashion Festival is in the right place. Its cutting-edge catwalk show will be, appropriately, in the Dissecting Room of cool arts centre Summerhall, previously the location of the Dick Vet College.

The City Art Centre in Market Street has already launched its Summer of Fashion, two eagerly awaited exhibitions. One features a century of photography from Vogue magazine, the other is of Scottish paintings by the likes of Henry Raeburn, Francis Cadell and John Bellany, highlighting the way we wore. There are associated events and in the exhibition are beautiful garments from Edinburgh College of Art. This summer, Edinburgh is loosening its stays and throwing away the laces. Edinburgh and Glasgow are two great and vibrant cities, each stylish in its own way, and either a fitting backdrop to a celebration of fashion.