Whenever I venture this far down South Street it’s usually in search of a delicious green tea sorbet from Janetta’s, and nothing less. This time, however, my exploits were richly rewarded in the form of a behind-the-scenes glimpse of CATWALK’s first photo shoot of the academic year (view the results for yourself on their Tumblr).
The contrast between the bitterly cold darkness outside and the bustling warmth inside was apparent. Models were having their hair coiffed and makeup applied at a table scattered with hairspray, makeup brushes and mascara whilst chatting and laughing with the rest of the team about their upcoming social. Through a door on the far side of the room I could hear the models’ nervous laughter as the photographer made them feel at ease in preparation for taking their head shots, whilst I could catch glimpses of camera flashes capturing the photo shoot outside from the kitchen window.
Organisers Laura Carrington and Elizabeth Wells gave me a little taste of what to expect from the unique and creative photo shoot, whilst talking me through how they came to decide on the concept. Since CATWALK, being part of RAG week, is the only University-affiliated fashion show in St Andrews the team wanted to pick out a theme that would reflect these close ties. With this being the University’s 600th anniversary, they felt it was important to celebrate the University’s past as well as its present: thus the theme ‘kaleidoscope’ was decided on, after Sir David Brewster – principal of the University of St Andrews from 1837-1859 and inventor of the kaleidoscope.
I asked Laura and Elizabeth what they thought made CATWALK stand out from the other fashion shows on the St Andrews scene: charity and inclusivity were two key ideas that stood out. As an event running as part of RAG week, the team have to keep their costs down to a minimum. This means relying on the help of volunteers to run the show, such as the Union’s Ents Crew, and the help of local businesses to provide many of the clothes used in the show, as well as other support. Laura and Elizabeth told me that they believe CATWALK’s charitable nature has led to greater creativity within the team, since they don’t have a limitless budget to play around with.
The team feels that the other thing that makes CATWALK different is its inclusivity. Their fashion show isn’t just a parade of skinny girls wearing pretty dresses, it’s a party and a celebration of the creativity and talent St Andrews has to offer. The focus is on creating a great atmosphere for the models, the backstage team, and the guests; this was obvious from the welcoming atmosphere I found at the photo shoot and the warmth and friendship everyone there obviously felt for one another. If there’s one thing I took from this meeting, it was that CATWALK is everything fashion is meant to be: sociable, creative, and fun.
CATWALK will be held in Venue 1 on Saturday, February 9th as the last event of RAG Week (1st to 9th February: see their website for the full list of events).
CATWALK and RAG Week are aiming to raise money for the following charities: Families First, Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS), The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), Macmillan Cancer Support, Maggie’s and Médicins Sans Frontières. CATWALK and RAG Week are exclusively sponsored by KPMG.