West Coast Cooler FASHIONWEEK fizzed into focus as it launched the line-up for its twenty-first season yesterday [21 January]. Celebrating this milestone with a ‘coming of age’ theme, the event sees the addition of a new ‘Fifty over Fifty’ show for fashionistas in their fifties and beyond, as well as the re-introduction of the Fashion & Retail Awards, which will celebrate the history of the event as well as looking to the future of fashion here.
The four day event, which will run from 10-13 March, will see the return of nightly catwalk shows featuring collections from both the high street as well as from independently owned boutiques plus local designers’ work and the popular Sushi Saturday and Style Sunday events to round off the long weekend of fashion.
FASHIONWEEK Director Cathy Martin said: “I’m sure everyone will agree that there is some incredible creative talent here in Northern Ireland and it’s time to acknowledge and celebrate what we have on our doorsteps. I watched with pride as former FASHIONWEEK participant and Magherafelt man J.W. Anderson spectacularly and deservedly won both Female and Male Designer of the Year at last year’s British Council Fashion Awards, and it’s only right that we give local designers and retailers recognition for their work too.”
Returning to the schedule, Thursday 10 March will see the latest collections from local designers and independent boutiques on the runway. Confirmed to return are Blush and Jourdan from Belfast, as well as Diamond Dolls, (Banbridge) and Spoilt Belle Boutique (Magherafelt) plus designers Grainne Maher and Nor Lisa, among others. FASHIONWEEK new-comers this season include Sarah Alexander Boutique in Newtownards and Lotus Boutique, which is due to open in Holywood in March stocking high-end designer collections for hire.
Preparing for her first season, proprietor of Sarah Alexandra Boutique, Sarah Holman said: “I’m so excited to be part of a fantastic line-up of designers and boutiques for what promises to be a successful event. It is a fantastic opportunity for me to show Belfast’s top style enthusiasts the fantastic brands we have in store, including Lavish Alice, Freddy Jeans and Genese among many others.”
Following from the ever successful designer night, style proceedings continue with the High Street Heaven show on Saturday 11 March, bringing the latest looks from the nation’s biggest and busiest stores including Next, Warehouse, Remus Uomo, DV8 Fashion, Diamond Dolls high street range, as well as Dorothy Perkins, New Look, Designers at Debenhams and Miss Selfridge from CastleCourt, and brands like Joules, Tommy Hilfiger and Guess from Alana Lifestyle in Lurgan.
No stranger to leading fashion trends, Chantelle Craig from high street retailer Next said: “We are delighted to be back at Belfast FASHIONWEEK for another season and can’t wait to showcase our latest collections which are inspired by spring floral prints and feminine frills in sumptuous fabrics for that truly feminine customer. We’re not forgetting our every-day girl however, and fashion minimalists will also see us offer a wide range of pale casual knits and cottons and we hit the top season trend with double denims galore available in store.”
Speaking on menswear trends, Remus Uomo’s Marketing Manager Martin Byrne said: “As men become more confident in their style choices, the move is away from plain, solid colours and toward pattern, interesting fabric structure and varied textures for the coming season.”
FASHIONWEEK director Cathy Martin spoke also on womenswear trends, adding: “Trends are sticking around and evolving over a few seasons now, it’s not like something is hot and trendy for just a few months and then it disappears again, so right now we’re seeing a return to colour popping and blocking from 2015, but contrasting fabrics as well as colours are used to create a bold and bashful look. For those a little more fashion shy, pale pastels are perfect, and this season they’re mixed with off-shoulder silhouettes plus lots of romantic ruffles and frills for a feminine feel. Florals abound again – they’ve been around for about four seasons now in various guises, but this time they’re also embracing frills and ruffles too. It’s quite a romantic and feminine season all in all. To counter this, there is a massive ‘death by denim’ trend, with all-denim-everything ensembles across most designer and high street collections.”
Returning for its third time in association with West Coast Cooler is the COVERGIRL competition. FASHIONWEEK will once again seek to find ten models – and one ultimate COVERGIRL – who will walk away with a host of amazing prizes including £1000 worth of fashion from Victoria Square, plus return flights from airline partner Aer Lingus and make up and hair by the event’s official partners Oonagh Boman and Jason Shankey Hair. The Top Ten COVERGIRLs will take to the Victoria Square catwalk at the Fashion Awards on Saturday 12 March when the top three finalists, who’ll be jetting off for a sunny destination photoshoot, courtesy of airline sponsor Aer Lingus and West Coast Cooler FASHIONWEEK, will be announced.
Make Up director Oonagh Boman talked of her excitement of returning as the official make up partner saying “We can’t wait for everyone to see the catwalk make up looks we have in store for the season ahead, which will be created using Senna Cosmetics and Domina Skincare to achieve flawless complexions that match the stunning Spring fashion.”
Fashionistas in their fifties and stylistas in their sixties and seventies will also enjoy a Fifty Over Fifty fashion show on Saturday 12 March as part of the Fashion & Retail Awards, the theme of which is ‘coming of age’. Siobhan Casey, Director of Marketing at AgeNI commented, “Age NI is delighted to be associated with Belfast Fashion Week’s new ‘Fifty Over Fifty’ showcase to highlight how fashion, style, image and body confidence are important at any age – we all want to look good and feel great. Being part of Belfast Fashion Week’s Coming of Age themed event this season demonstrates how the fashion industry is positively reflecting our ageing population and shows that older people are valuable and visible, in fashion as in life. We’re looking forward to seeing Age NI volunteers and ambassadors on the catwalk, showcasing the best SS16 looks for men and women in later life and we’d love to see fashion-forward Age NI supporters of all ages at the show too!’
For those unable to make the evening catwalk shows, the return of Sushi Saturday at the uber-chic Zen is a welcome treat. The “Director’s Cut” fashion event showcases 36 of the best looks from across all shows at Belfast FASHIONWEEK, whilst guests enjoy a welcome West Coast Cooler cocktail and an Asian inspired afternoon tea – all for the bargain price of £30 per person.
Last, but definitely not least, the schedule will close as always in sumptuous style with the flagship Style Sunday luncheon at Deane’s at Queen’s on 20 March. This glamorous four course gourmet luncheon, which is run in association with Action Cancer, accompanies trend forecasts, a mini fashion show and a mini masterclass from FASHIONWEEK’s hair, style and make up partners. Deane’s at Queen’s chefs will deliver a delicious meal while guests enjoy designer fashion from Candy Plum boutique in Hillsborough. The charity lunch costs £45.00 per person and places can be booked directly through the restaurant on 02890381555.
West Coast Cooler brand manager Laura Blair said: “We are delighted to continue our sponsorship of FASHIONWEEK as it officially comes of age, and there’s no better time to raise a glass of chilled West Coast Cooler in celebrating our perfect partnership.”
The full show schedule is 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 £30 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 & Events:
THURSDAY 10 March, ALL DAY ‘Cutting It’ Workshops & Seminars. An all-day event geared towards those seeking careers advice or inspiration/information on careers in the fashion, film & costume industry locally. For more information, contact BFW on 02890421509
THURSDAY 10 March, 8.00PM – DESIGNER BOUTIQUES AND LOCAL DESIGNERS. Tickets priced at £20 or £30 for FROW available from 028 9024 6609 or via www.belfastfashionweek.com
FRIDAY 11 March, 8.00PM – HIGH STREET. Tickets priced at £20 or £30 for FROW available from 028 9024 6609 or via links on www.belfastfashionweek.com
SATURDAY 12 March, 2.00-4.00pm – SUSHI SATURDAY “The Director’s Cut” at ZEN. To book, call 02890421509 price £30pp.
SATURDAY 12 March, 8.00pm – FASHION AWARDS. Tickets priced at £20 or £30 for FROW available from 028 9024 6609 or via links on www.belfastfashionweek.com
SUNDAY 18 OCTOBER, 2.00-5.00pm – STYLE SUNDAY in support of Action Cancer at Deane’s at Queen’s. To book call 02890381555
MAIN IMAGE > Pictured at the launch of West Coast Cooler FASHIONWEEK are models Lauryn, Sacha, Rebecca and Joanne in the latest looks from Topshop @ Victoria Square, Diamond Dolls and Chi Chi London. Photography by Kirth Ferris/Pacemaker Press
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