DONT WALK as an organisation tends to elicit strong feelings from a majority of the St Andrews student population. Whether they be positive or negative, from the common grounds of Yik Yak to regular passing conversations, DONT WALK causes talk. The event (especially since its rebranding for this season) has been shrouded in mystery and has been dubbed by many as exclusive and overhyped. As I walked into the VIC to get my press pass, dubious, I found myself unsure of how I felt about the event itself, especially its reputation for exclusivity, and was determined to give a truthful account.
The truth about DONT WALK is that it was incredible.
Buses left for DONT WALK from outside Madras College at 7 pm for Super VIP and 7:15 pm for VIP and Standard ticket holders. The usual ride to Kinkell Byre was uneventful and, upon arrival, guests were sorted into different entrances allowing for easy access to the venue and keeping those in short skirts and dresses out of the freezing cold, which was already a hint to the extreme organisation to come throughout the event.
The beloved Kinkell atmosphere is one that never fails to disappoint. Music resonated through the entrances, arrival photos were taken, tables were found, champagne was drunk and around 8:15 pm the lights fell to darkness as the models took to the stage. As one has come to expect from a St Andrews fashion show, the opening act was eye catching and dramatic, getting the audience suitably excited for the show to follow. The models emerged on stage, outfitted in monochrome looks with neon orange lights wrapped around their necks, perfectly synched to a heavy bass line. With venue-wide silence (omitting the occasional woot of encouragement), all stood still, watching the models walk slowly down the duel armed runway that surrounded the Super VIP section, allowing for front row space and good views for those in both sections — though the better views belonged to those in Super VIP as the name and ticket price might suggest.
The first half of the show ran smoothly thanks to both the incredibly tight security, who kept the stage clear (though, yes, drinks were passed to models), and to the smooth DJing provided by Heads of Music, Daniel Garner and Stuart Hindmarch. The success of this first half was also in large part due to the beautiful array of models, and looks including classic suits from big name sponsor Vivienne Westwood’s Spring/Summer 2016 line and ultra-feminine tweed from up and coming Netherlands-based designer Hellen Van Rees (who is simultaneously showing her line at Milan Fashion Week).
At this point, we reached the part of the night where fashion shows can easily lose their momentum and fall flat in the form of an auction. Items up for bidding included a Nebuchadnezzar of Lanson Champagne, an Oktoberfest table for 10, hotel stays both in the UK and abroad, and even an internship. Luckily for all of us non-bidders, the auction was lively, the bars moved quickly and photographers were busy capturing everyone’s most fashionable assemblages, ensuring a quick interlude that left nobody stranded and looking for something to do.
After the brief intermission, the second half of the show began with less warning than one might have hoped for, leaving everyone somewhat ravenously sprinting from the bar in an attempt to gain a catwalk-adjacent place, rewarding those who had stayed put for the entirety of the auction. The fashion of the second half remained consistent, with standouts being the Hong Kong based contemporary brand SHIGO and the recently launched Temper lingerie line — shirtless men and lingerie-clad women being an obvious crowd pleaser. Overall, the main spectacle of the show was executed flawlessly with a mix between fun and professionalism that kept everyone interested.
One thing that truly defines an event is the quality of the music, quite literally setting the tone for the entire night. The musical directors created a mix that appealed to those of us who appreciate a strong bass line as well as those of us who love the chance to sing along to some of our favourites (Estelle’s American Boy proved to be a huge hit). This environment created an efficient transition into the after party, with VIP lounge music, provided by the off-duty model we’ve all come to know as DJ Flo, providing tunes as the floor was swiftly cleared of the runway and tables, making way for the after party and the highly-anticipated Otto Knows.
Otto Knows and his supporting acts had big shoes to fill in terms of entertainment, following the quality of the DONT WALK main show, and as both the fashion show and after party guests flooded the dancefloor, all were waiting to see if this second part of the night would deliver. Everyone seemed to be either drinking and mingling or dancing as they enjoyed the final hours of the night. As a testament to the unimpeachable organisation of the DONT WALK committee, I waited around 5 minutes for a bus to leave Kinkell — a record in Kinkell Byre time. Overall, the DONT WALK committee provided an event that lived up to what it was described as, and provided it well — indeed, I most definitely could not walk by the end of the night. The event was smooth, efficient, and overall one of the best events I’ve attended in St Andrews so far.