Bristol’s best-dressed flocked to Metropolis tonight to see the first ever Stokes Croft Fashion Show. The bar was stocked, the models were preened and entertainment was in full swing as revelers celebrated the best of local and independent fashion design, including the likes of Dutty Girl, Avalaan and Spunky.
The Cheltenham Road venue was the perfect setting for this intimate show, where supporters included local press, models, designers and entrepreneurs including George Ferguson of the Tobacco Factory. As the girls and I squeezed along the front row into our seats, we cooed over the cute orange goody bags while waiting for the show to start.
At 8.30pm sharp burlesque mistress Ophelia Bitz, below, took to the stage to host the show, looking stunning in an emerald green Gilly Woo corset and mandatory clipboard, introducing each label and singing some show tunes to kick the evening off.
Before the model graced the catwalk, PRSC chairman Chris Chalky took to the stage to thank the crowd for attending and supporting local designers, commenting on the recent arrival of Primark and the necessity of encouraging creativity and regeneration through ethical fashion choices.
Next up was the beautiful burlesque artiste Lily Belle, who literally gave audiences a sneak peak of her interval performance with a traditional fan dance (pictures of which are at the bottom of this post).
First to grace the catwalk were Avalaan, a collaborative label with a shop on Gloucester Road, inspired by art, music, sport and design. Skiwear and and the skater look were both key themes, with men in graphic print tees and illustrated hoodies, while the women wore beanies, sweatshirts and brightly coloured t-shirts layered over leggings and ski pants.
Ben’s Sister used models styled in simple blue shirts and black tights to show off their range of leather bags, including a rather tasty oversized gold union jack clutch. The designs were simple but elegant and a peak at their website confirms that these gorgeous well-made bags can be customised and made to order, hurrah!
Madidas Harrisa, aka Maddie Harris, is a local designer who specialises in recycled fashions and reclaimed fabrics. Her outfits used flashes of gold, blue and pink lycra to hug the models’ bodies, taking the form of leggings, dresses, tops and skirts. Floral prints oddly complimented monocrhome strips while gold and animal prints gave the streetwear an on trend 80’s look. Big hair and Nike hi-tops accesorised the look perfectly.
Dutty Girl bourght the first half of the show to a close with a diverse mix of men and womenswear from the range of labels stocked in their Dutty Shop across the road. The artistic and musical influences were clear in their urban streetwear, dresses and men’s knitwear, with blakc, purple and gold featuring heavily in the colour schemes.
Lily Belle was welcomed back on stage during the interval in what started out as a 1950’s outfit to perform a saucy salsa with a giant lime wedge and oversized salt shaker that dusted her with glitter. Soon she was down to her sparkly tangerine underwear and the girls and I agreed how brave the buxom Lily was to strut her stuff on stage, nipple tassels et al!
After a tantalising performance the audience were refreshed and ready to see the second half of the show, kicked off by South-Blessed, a label specialising in logo tees and hoodies. Next up were the independent t-shirt company, SP:UK (Spunky) who are based in London and Bristol. The label has been praised for it’s originality in inviting illustrators to send in their best t-shirt designs for production. Tonight their section consisted of new and old designs alike, including ‘Crows’ and my favourite, the ‘Yes No’ design by The Boy Fitz Hammond. Menswear and womenswear made appearances to the sound of Dizzy Rascal, with the crowd cheering the models as they danced down the catwalk.
Despite an early exit, it is a school night after all, I am assured that DJ’s played on into the night and many drinks were consumed. The show itself was a missive hit for me and I hope the designers and models enjoyed the event as much as we did. With such an emphasis on ethical practices and recycled fabrics, the event was a refreshing event after a week of slightly more commercial fashion shows: I can’t imagine Cabot Circus allowing burlesque performers to grace the stage!
As Chris Chalky said in his speech “the future does belong to you”. We need to support our local labels and events such as this so that Bristol retains it’s cultural value and doesn’t become yet another faceless city. The links on this post all contain contact details and locations for these fashion designers so pay them a visit next time you’re out shopping, and purchase a part of Bristol’s Cultural Quarter.
Lily Belle performs a burlesque favourite; the fan dance