Fourteen seasons is a long time in fashion, but since its inception in 2005, Belfast’s Wes Coast Cooler FASHIONWEEK continues to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to providing the latest looks and hottest trends for fashion conscious stylistas.
The event, which will take place from 13 – 21 October across various venues in the city will include kids’ shows and workshops sponsored by The OUTLET at W5 as well as chic afternoon teas at the Merchant Hotel, the Diet Coke Design Award, the Fashion ReFound project and the super stylish Style Sunday event at James Street South restaurant as well as the main catwalk shows in the Europa FASHIONWEEK Centre.
Cathy Martin, director of FASHIONWEEK said: “This season we will feature the finest established and up-and-coming designers as well as the best boutique and high street brands from all over Northern Ireland to create a fast-paced, exciting and irresistible slice of fashion in the city. We sell out every season and hopefully above all trends, that one will continue as we look forward to seeing what is making style queens weak at the knees for Autumn/Winter.
She added: “What will we see on the catwalk? Well, in terms of fabrics we’ll be seeing lots of Jacquard weaves, brocade and felting and, as far as shapes go, there will be a lot of military coats and capes. Looking at colours, it’s all about red or royal blue as well as pyjama prints and a lot of monochrome and hounds tooth this winter. These looks, and many more, have all made their mark on the international catwalks and with our sense of style and adventure here, we hope to offer some amazing days and nights of fashionable fun for all ages.”
Karen Anderson from West Coast Cooler added: “The fashion buzz really begins once FASHIONWEEK launches and this season seems to be no different with fashionistas already keen to snap up the limited edition front row seats and sit back with a West Coast Cooler to enjoy the shows. There’s such a variety of shows, events and workshops that there really is something for everyone, no matter what their budget or fashion favourites are.”
Retailers from the high street taking part include Benetton, Marks & Spencer, French Connection, Exhibit, George at ASDA and Jigsaw; with Designers at Debenhams, Miss Selfridge, Warehouse and Dorothy Perkins also showcasing (among others) as part of the CastleCourt shows. Then Oasis, Next Clearance, L.K. Bennett, Olsen and Staccato will all be part of the OUTLET’s collection on the main runway as well as at the ‘yummy mummy’ shows at W5.
Designer emporium Cruise in Victoria Square will host a stunning Afternoon Tea at the Merchant Hotel on Saturday 20 October. The stylish afternoon will include an array of teas, delicious sandwiches, pastries and chic cakes, as well as an intimate fashion show and a sparkling welcome cocktail from sponsor West Coast Cooler. Seasoned stylists from Cruise will talk through this autumn’s key looks from top designers including Victoria Beckham, Amanda Wakeley and Armani as well as answering personal styling dilemmas for ladies of all shapes, sizes, and shopping budgets. Places cost £30.00pp and are available at the Merchant Hotel directly on 02890 234888.
Boutiques from right across Northern Ireland will also be highlighted with Natoria in Larne and Diamond Dolls in Banbridge leading the way in the boutique show. Jourdan, Blush and Harrison from the Lisburn Road will also sit alongside key pieces from Una Rodden and Grainne Maher at this show on Thursday 18 October and then a full selection of home grown designers – from Derry milliner John Paul to new fashion graduate Saba Akram will showcase at the NI Designer show on Saturday 20 October. Ones to watch out for on the catwalk include very edgy designers Ruedi Maguire and David Henderson as well as Fermanagh’s Lisa McCabe’s Nor Lisa label featuring her silk prints, weaver Jude Cassidy with luxurious hand woven scarves and Katie Wilson who has been quietly working and selling under Una Rodden for three years since graduating. Knit designers, Sean Henry, with his Van der Simon label and Mary Callan will showcase the best in wools while former stylist and retail manager Stephen Mageean takes to the catwalk in a stunning debut of evening gowns and says he intends to ‘wow the audiences’. Belfast born and McQueen trained designer Riona Treacy will also be showing her first luxury retail collection which is soon to be available from Brown Thomas.
New talent will also feature in the form of the Diet Coke Design Award which celebrates its third season at FASHIONWEEK, and three is a magic number for the competition this year, as not one, but three designers will be shortlisted to have their ideas made up by Una Rodden and showcased on the catwalk at FASHIONWEEK, where judges will decide which lucky fashionista will go on to win a mini scholarship to the London College of Fashion plus a shoot with photographer Khara Pringle. But before the judges decide, fans on Facebook will also be able to vote to help bolster support for entries, which are already flooding in. Entry forms are available to download from the Belfast FASHIONWEEK website and entrants don’t have to be designers or from a design background.
In addition to the catwalk shows, some of the local designers have also teamed up with ReFound, a unique and chic-onomic platform to promote local creative talent and design, while offering furniture buyers an eco-conscious alternative in home styling. For the first time, ReFound is hosting a bespoke ‘FASHION REFOUND’ show at the ReFound building in Wellington Place. Taking place throughout FASHIONWEEK, this exhibition, where Fashion meets Furniture, will see up to ten up-and-coming fashion designer/makers apply their designs and creativity to a home interior piece, exclusively for ReFound.
Closing up the week’s events is the ever popular Style Sunday event and private show, which will once again include the best hair, beauty, make up and fashion advice from top experts including make-up artist Paddy McGurgan and hair stylist Andrew Mulvenna. Places for this event, which supports NI’s leading learning disability charity Mencap, can be purchased directly at James Street South for £40.
International hair stylist and salon owner Andrew Mulvenna will take care of styling the hair throughout the week-long event and he is very excited about the prospect saying: “My artistic and creative team headed up by Judith McKay has worked on lots of fashion events in the past including London Fashion Week and the Central St Martins fashion show, but we are all looking forward to getting our hands on some of Ireland’s top models at FASHIONWEEK. We’re planning some show-stopping styles as well as some beautiful and easy-to-create looks for the audience.”