Let’s not lie: Everyone has heard about it. Everyone has gazed longingly at the website, desperately entered the table raffle, and prayed that they are edgy enough to get one of the coveted invitations. Now, it is finally time. DONT WALK has once again returned to St Andrews.
If you do not know the specifics, allow me to inform you. Known as the younger, cooler, and more creative sister of FS, DONT WALK has been around long enough to have developed a history. Established by a group of international students seeking to make a political statement of unity after the 9/11 terror attacks, the show has since continued to grow to a monumental size. As a creative outlet and a distraction in times of political unrest, it is easy to see how this year’s show will be bigger and better. After all, the student population is most definitely in need of a distraction.
Furthermore, the show has admirable aims. Like most of the events held at the University, DONT WALK endeavours to raise money for charity. Since its inception, the show has raised over £220,000 for charitable causes. Following the tradition of years’ past, this year DONT WALK will continue to support the Robin Hood Foundation, which seeks to end poverty in New York by providing underprivileged families with basic benefits.
This year, a portion of the funds will be going to the Lebanon-based Salam LADC. The Lebanese Association for Development and Communication is a charity that deals with the influx of refugees who are experiencing the worst humanitarian crisis of our time, an issue many of us can sympathise with. This charity provides both social and educational support to those who need it most, and this past January members of the DONT WALK committee travelled to Lebanon to work with the refugees.
DONT WALK is keen to emphasise that, above all, they are a charitable organisation; it is one of the few institutions in St Andrews that is an officially registered charity. Although the tickets for tables were pricey (£90 a head for VIP), attendees can be assured that their money is definitely going to good places.
Although student-run, the event has always had an air of professional-ism about it. This year is no different – just look at their website as evidence. One of the committee’s stated goals is to use multiple modes of expression to communicate their message; therefore, it is hardly surprising that the website is a work of art. This year, the charity fashion show is themed around the concept of “Progress / Regress,” and promises to “explore the nuances of progress” in the interest of generating public discourse and debate.
Creative Director Tiphaera Ziner Cohen aims to ask big questions such as: “what drives our humanity?” After all, the audience is a group of intelligent students with active minds. While a show’s focus on fashion might seem superficial, it is actually a medium of discussion. The focus of progress lends itself to exploration of modern ideas. These ideas include artificial intelligence and mass communication in order to highlight the different perceptions and notions of progress. It sounds both intellectually and visually stimulating.
This year, the DONT WALK team has promised to change things up, both for the show itself and the after-party. With a long list of impressive sponsors (Coca Cola, Yoyo Wallet, Campus Society, and Vitamin Water, to name a few), it already promises to be a massive year. Once again focused on being the edgy alternative to shows such as FS, the fashion line-up features an impressive amount of up-and-coming designers, several of whom have designed custom collections for the show. Names such as Elisa Bay and Alexandrova Paris are sure to pique the interest of the more fashion-oriented among us. For the musically inclined, Swedish DJ Neiked has been announced as the headlining act for the afterparty.
All that said, it is worth addressing the issues that some take with DONT WALK. In the past, the show has received a lot of criticism for the sheer level of exclusivity they enforce. The fact that almost everything about it – from the launch to the show itself – is invite-only gave many people a massive sense of missing out and frustration at not being ‘cool’ enough. Many have gone on to argue that DONT WALK is pretentious, as the theme can frequently appear elaborate for a fashion show.
It is not surprising that an invitation-only event would attract scorn and resentment for those who missed out. This year, thanks to the new venue at Cambo Estate, there was a small table ballot for the general public. While still for the most part invitation-only, this marks a step in the direction of becoming more mainstream, in the interest of growth for the show. Increased attendance has the added benefit of raising more money for the charitable causes.
Say what you want about DONT WALK, but above all it is a charitable event that aims to tackle big questions while still being a fun night for all – and that seems rather admirable. So come Saturday 25 February, whether you are a show guest or after-party ticket holder, Cambo Estate is the place to be.