Making A Fashion Splash: West Coast Cooler FASHIONWEEK Celebrates its Tenth Year

by • January 24, 2014 • Beauty, Business, City News, Entertainment, Events, Fashion, FeaturedComments (0)1565

10 yearsThe launch of Spring/Summer’s West Coast Cooler FASHIONWEEK can always be relied upon to bring a touch of style, glamour and colour to dreary old January, and this morning’s lively and vibrant launch for 2014 was no exception.  Ireland’s leading fashion event will not only return for another season, but this year it celebrates a remarkable milestone with 2014 marking its tenth year.  Needless to say, hoards of die-hard fashion fans gathered to hear the exciting schedule including celebratory events to mark the tenth year.

Surrounded by ten beautiful models, director of Belfast FASHIONWEEK Cathy Martin, addressed the guests on site at renowned interior designer Kris Turnbull’s chic studio and outlined what we can expect from the landmark event which will take place from 19-23 March across various venues in Belfast.

Speaking at the launch, Cathy said:  “I feel very proud to be standing here today as I announce the schedule for the seventeenth season of FASHIONWEEK and the beginning of its tenth year.  When I created FASHIONWEEK at my kitchen table in 2004-2005, I could only have dreamed that it would become the much celebrated and anticipated event that it is today, and it’s been a pleasure to watch it – and all those who have been involved, including designers, models and many other creatives – evolve and flourish over the years.  I’m looking forward to showcasing the talents of our local designers and new spring/summer collections from our high street stores and local designer boutiques, but also to ‘giving back’ a little with our Charity Challenge and to let loose some fantastic creativity with Paddy McGurgan’s theatrical make up show.  These extras, as well as some new plans for Autumn, will help celebrate what has been a remarkable decade for FASHIONWEEK.”

In terms of the main schedule, local designers and independent boutiques will kick off the main catwalk shows at the Ulster Museum on Wednesday 19 March with Harrison, Blush, Rachel McKnight, Diamond Dolls in Banbridge, Nor Lisa, CRUISE, Grainne Maher and Larissa Watson all confirmed to take part.

Spring/Summer looks from the high street continue the proceedings on Thursday 20 March, and will see the return of The OUTLET, Banbridge, Benetton, Marks and Spencer, George at Asda and Next, among others. This hugely popular show always sells out quickly so snap up your ticket now to avoid disappointment!

But unlike the main catwalk shows for designers, designer boutiques and the high street stores – which will take place at the Ulster Museum – both the Charity Challenge and Paddy McGurgan’s Make Up Show will be held in Stormont’s iconic Great Hall on Friday 21 March.

Multi-award-winning artist Paddy McGurgan’s stunning creative make up display will demonstrate some breath-taking and dramatic looks incorporating massive feathered wings and headpieces. As the lead make up artist at FASHIONWEEK since 2005 and a former performer himself, he has choreographed a full production entitled ‘Birds of Paradise’ to wow audiences with a musical, dance and visual spectacular.

The Charity Challenge concept was created by Cathy to bring together ten fashion bloggers or stylists with ten charities and their retail stores to create a collection of ten catwalk-worthy outfits each. Cathy said: “I can’t wait to see what classic, quirky and vintage ensembles our exceptionally creative stylists will come up with.  Actually, we started off with the goal of ten charity partnerships to celebrate our tenth year, but I’m delighted to say we now have twelve. And all the outfits shown on the catwalk as part of the Charity Challenge will be available to buy (via donation) on the night at each charity’s pop up store, so as well as exposing what great finds there are in store at some of these gem shops, we’re hoping that the charities will sell the entire collections to make some much needed funds.” Cathy, who will fund the Charity Challenge production herself, has supported charity over the years through FASHIONWEEK tying in with Mencap via the Style Sunday event, as well as breast cancer charity Pretty in Pink, which collects donations at all shows.

Cathy said: “I’m so grateful to MLA’s Basil McCrea, Judith Cochrane, Pat Sheehan, Megan Fearon and Chris Lyttle from parties across the board who have supported our application to show at Stormont. We’ve showcased in some wonderful venues over the past nine years including Belfast’s City Hall, the underground car park at Victoria Square, the old bank in Waring Street, the Ulster Museum and the Grand Opera House’s Baby Grand, so it is nice to find a home at Stormont for this season.”

Although the main catwalk shows draw to a close on Friday, fashion fans are in for a treat at the weekend (quite literally!) as afternoon fashion teas will take place on Saturday 22 March at the sumptuous and decadent surroundings of Saphyre on the Lisburn Road.  Fresh gourmet sandwiches, cream cakes and other delicious treats will be served as guests sit back, relax and enjoy a mini fashion show by luxury fashion store, CRUISE.

As if that wasn’t enough to whet fashionistas’ appetites, the celebrations will come to a very tasty end with the renowned Style Sunday event, which will take place once again at SHU restaurant on Sunday 23 March 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 and places can be booked directly through the restaurant on 028 9038 1655. All monies raised on the day are donated to Mencap.

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.

Making a special return as part of the ten year celebrations is the Sunday Life’s iconic COVERGIRL competition, which this year is in association with West Coast Cooler FASHIONWEEK.  The team is seeking to find ten budding models – and one ultimate COVERGIRL – who will walk away with a host of amazing prizes including a stint on the catwalk at FASHIONWEEK in March.  Scouting days will take place at Victoria Square on 25 January and 01 February from 1-3pm.   A team of judges will whittle down the entrants to ten finalists who’ll take part in a shoot for Victoria Square, then three lucky finalists from the ten will be shortlisted and whisked away for an all-expenses paid, four day destination shoot in the sun soaked Canary Island of Lanzarote, flying with leading leisure airline and staying in luxurious style at Natural Retreats villas in Playa Blanca.

Karen Anderson, brand manager for West Coast Cooler, which sponsors the event added: “FASHIONWEEK has stood the test of time and never disappoints when it comes to providing an exciting and varied schedule of events.  I’m looking forward to another busy season of show-stopping catwalk shows and to celebrate, in style, what has been a wonderful collaboration between FASHIONWEEK and West Coast Cooler.”

The full show schedule is available online at 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.



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