Monday, 19 May 2014

NE1's Newcastle Fashion Week - Fashion Front Row

The last few weeks have been a blur of hard work, craziness and excitement in the run up to two big events this past week, NE1's Newcastle Fashion Week's 'Fashion Front Row' and 'The Late Shows'.

As there are so many pictures I'm going to split this into two posts, so let's start with Newcastle Fashion Week. 'Fashion Front Row' is one of the most sought after slots of Newcastle Fashion Week, the highlight of the Newcastle Fashion Week calendar which showcases the best of local designers and their new collections. Due to such a high number of applicants for this years show at new venue Tiger Tiger, some designers were paired up with others and unfortunately some had to be turned away.

Whilst waiting to hear back from my application, I managed to continue a little work on the 'Romantic Warrior' collection, dip-dyeing an ostrich feather trim (with the kindly help of Helen Rafferty at F6.Studios), sampling fabric flowers and embellishment and embroidery. The inspiration behind the collection was a bit of a modern take on Pre-Raphaelite, traditionally feminine and floral with elements of medieval detailing translated through mainly stitch and embellishment. I had designed a mix of motifs inspired by old wrought iron heart locks, a tiara and the jewelled centre of a 17th Century ostrich feather fan, which worked really well with the 'romantic' theme.

Dip-dyeing ostrich feathers
Swarovski-embellished fabric flowers and foiled lace
Intricate detailed silk panels ready for sock suspenders

With only two weeks to go and after a little chasing up from myself and Michelle Taylor from Tallulah Love after discussing Fashion Week, I received an exciting email from Jayne. She asked if I 'would be happy' to showcase with Tallulah Love, which obviously I was over the moon and slightly shocked at, Tallulah Love was the headline act and it meant a great deal that Michelle was happy to let me showcase my collection with her, particularly at such short notice!

Just a few days later, we also had another local designer join in the collaboration, the lovely talented Elaine Humble of Dimesso Designs, who creates dramatically beautiful headwear. With the fabulous team Tallulah of Michelle, her intern Lucy Scorer who designed the military inspired flower girl look and sourced the gorgeous skirt from Kathryn Russel, an amazing illustration of burlesque star Frankii Wilde by Jennifer Lambert and dramatic bustle and train by Phil Woodhead of Buckley, and Elaine's striking headpieces and my bespoke accessories, we managed to pull together an amazing collection in a very short space of time with everyones hard work and expertise.

I met up with Elaine shortly after we found out she was on board to give her some of the dyed ostrich feathers and flowers I was using. I was delighted to find Elaine as genuinely lovely and down-to-earth as I expected, and was amazed when she told me that she originally taught herself millinery from a magazine before getting requests from friends and family, and that's how her business started! Other than my meeting with Elaine we only kept in contact online, sharing pictures of materials we were using and what each outfit was going to look like to make sure everything fit together perfectly. The day of Fashion Front Row was the first day we all came into contact and seen all of our work together, so it was a little overwhelming from seeing individual pictures online to seeing the models stood in front of us, there were a lot of tears and shaking!

Official backstage photograph of accessories

Tallulah intern Lucy tying model sister Amy into 'Showgirl' corset

Gorgeous models wearing 'Military flower girl', 'Showgirl' and 'Lavender'

Pre-show meeting

Designers backstage!

After hours of excitement, tears, headache, running out to buy emergency heels (so many backstage photos, a last minute idea to have the designers on the catwalk and me wearing tatty old pumps) and trying to mingle in the few seconds between with Kayleigh Falcus and Lydia Bayly, it was showtime before we knew it! Unfortunately as there were about 60 people backstage, we were unable to see the show due to how busy the crowd was, but the feedback from our models told us the collection was a fabulous success!

'Lavender' with floral neck band

'Kimono' with embroidered sock suspenders (pic by Peter Reed)

'Military flower girl' with lace-up cuffs

Tallulah 'Darkside' with Dimesso headpiece

'Ganster moll' with silk bow-tie

'Muskateer' with matching neck band and cuffs

Finale 'Showgirl' look with embellished collar and cuffs

Back of 'Showgirl' with bustle by Buckley

Designer's round of applause on the catwalk

It was a lot of late nights and early mornings of hard graft for everyone involved, but the show coming together so spectacularly and seeing all of our hard work pay off made it more than worth it! It was so satisfying to see the final results and overwhelming to see friends and family who were there supporting us, all in all it was an amazing night! It wouldn't have been possible without the support of my family, friends and peers, my mam helping out with some last minute embroidery, Helen helping me understand the many different dyes in the print room, my next door neighbour letting me borrow her iron the night before the show after ours conveniently broke, Elaine stitching the last few press studs onto my 'Showgirl' cuffs when I had a headache backstage and of course, Michelle and the organisers of Newcastle Fashion Week Jayne and Sandra for letting me be a part of this wonderful event! Also a big shout out to F6.Studios who I was working alongside most of the time in the sewing room, who opened the show wonderfully with a stunning collection of their own (check out the F6.Studios blog to find out more!), it's such a pleasure to have shared this experience with such lovely and talented people!

Will post on The Late Shows very soon...

Melanie xx

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