The Saint: In your role as creative director, what have you done this year to elevate dont walk above other events?
dont walk: I think that this year we’ve really put an emphasis on being a creative response. We realised the videos were getting the most views so that’s really where we put all of our focus. We used little clips and snippets that people could look on their Facebook feed and go ‘oh that’s what’s going on.’
TS: And the choice of venue, out on the pitches, where did that decision come from?
DW: It was a big move to go out of Kinkell, which was the big move last year. It was a bit chaotic at the venue last year so we thought we wanted to do a marquee again. They gave us great perks for doing it over there and it’s right in town but we also get to build our own site.
TS: As with every year some students will be looking at this event as the perfect example of pretentiousness in St Andrews. How would you respond to people who say that?
DW: Well, it’s first and foremost a charity, everything we’re doing is student run and student organised and student driven for the good of others. So every time we get frustrated at a shoot or something we’re like this is just us being given a chance to kind of do our thing while helping others so, even though it may appear pretentious and people get dressed up, that’s just St Andrews events.
TS: And can you tell me a bit more about the charities that you’re representing this year?
DW: We have one that’s based in New York and one that’s based in Lebanon, and we did the one in Lebanon last year and they’re both for student education. We like to do the New York ones because we were created in response to the 2001 terrorist attacks so it’s kind of nice to stay with our roots, but also have another one.
TS: dont walk is ‘unbound by rules’, will there be choreography similar to last year in that its quite informal?
DW: Yes, kind of, obviously both the first and second half openers will be choreographed, but then by the end of the second half people are grabbing drinks out of the audiences’ hands and moving around. We think that’s what people come to our show for, the engagement with the audience, and that’ll be the same.
TS: And what’s the thought process behind that compared to say a show that emulates perhaps the more professional stereotype of a fashion show such as FS?
DW: Yeah well we’re a fun creative outlet so we kind of start with the uniformity of a fashion show and then go into our difference.
TS: Your site claims that you’re the largest and most successful charity fashion show in the UK. That’s a claim that FS also makes along with a number of other shows in the UK. What makes you the largest and most successful?
DW: Well we also take into account that we’re in no way associated with the university. We get no benefits from the university, no recognition. Your teachers won’t understand if you say ‘Oh I’m so stressed out with dont walk’, they have no idea what that is. So we have no adult backing. We are completely student run, whereas FS does have the university to help them with the venue and locations for everything. We are just completely student run manpower. You’re not getting job experience, but you’re just learning from it.
TS: The claim says you are not only the most successful student run charity fashion show but the most successful and largest charity fashion show in the UK. Do you think that’s a question of oversight on the part of the committee because some shows in London are for charity and are much bigger in every conceivable way?
DW: We’re taking this into account of relative size, so in London they are going to be much bigger, but going back home and telling people the size and kind of the reach we get, they’re so rattled that this occurs in a little town in Scotland.
TS: So you don’t think that committee should change your claim in any way, you don’t think it’s a form of misrepresentation?
DW: I don’t think that it’s been, I don’t know how to say this, it hasn’t been altered in years past, so I think that if people do question it we can explain that it’s our relative size and it’s what we’ve been going for. Does that make sense?
TS: Would you care to give a departing comment to our readers?
DW: Commenting on the theme, which we’ve purposely kept under wraps and we’re not going to release until the night of the show, which we didn’t do last year but in years prior to that. Also everything we’ve released so far (on social media) has been setting us up to how the event itself is going to be the main event. We just want people to make sure they look for these little details because everything has been on purpose to set us up for the feel of the theme.
The Saint: What would you say was the most difficult thing you’ve encountered working on the show?
FS: I think the most difficult thing, and I’m realising it even more now, is when you are in first semester in September/ October you need to really have a strong vision of what’s going to happen in January and February.
TS: Would you like to tell me a bit more about the charities you’re supporting this year?
FS: So this year we’re supporting the Anna Freud foundation. It’s a centre for children and families. They have a lot of programmes that help children in difficult times, if they went through a traumatic experience they have advisors and activities to help. I think some people over the break from FS went to actually see their new headquarters under construction you can also see it on Instagram we just wanted to put that in focus because it’s such a special charity.
TS: Would you care to comment about people who say FS is just an example of the most pretentious people in the university coming together for one night?
FS: I kind of disagree because FS is, I think, much more than just the event on that night, I mean we have music festival where we have two thousand three hundred people coming, we have an amazing committee of people that are so devoted to the charity, making something special, channelling their passions. I think it goes a bit beyond the whole champagne image or pretentious image that a lot of people kind of associate us with, I think it’s a project that comes from the heart and it’s really there for everyone to enjoy.
TS: However, of course not everyone can afford a ticket. Some would say that its slightly elitist and exclusive because of the price. Would you disagree with that?
FS: I would say that there’s a lot that goes into delivering the event that makes FS so memorable and on top of that the charity is a very big focus for us. We have donated, over the past 26 years, more than 490,000 pounds to charities.We also carry on with the event and the legacy of the event.
TS: On your website you claim to be the largest and most successful student run fashion show in the UK, this is similar to what dont walk claims on its site as well. What for you makes FS the largest and most successful student run fashion show in the UK?
FS: First off I think even on the website it says in terms of organisation. I feel like we are very successful organisation in terms of student run events. But on top of that and I have to think about what would make us one of the largest student run organisations in the UK. That would definitely be Starfields, FS, the fact that we have a music festival, and the fact that we donate a large amount of charity in terms of donations.
TS: So you can claim ‘you are proud to be the largest and most successful student run show in the UK’? Durham currently raises more money, they raised £106,000 this year and it runs for two days, I was just wondering in terms of the word largest, is this a case of oversight on the website?
FS: I think it comes down to interpretation, we are a very big organisation and we do consider ourselves successful, looking back at the contributions we were able to give back to charities. And I guess in itself we… yeah, I’m not really sure how to phrase this.
TS: And you guys would continue to have that claim on your site?
FS:I would say that we are the one of the most successful student run organisations more than I guess show, because if you do look at all the other fashion shows within the UK you might have some differences but, at the end of the day, I think that we do, we
have built something that is very important.
TS: So you would keep the claim, or you would change it?
FS: I would keep the claim, I think in terms of organisation you know we have over 60 members including the models and committee, we have two events that we continuously work for around the clock. I mean as soon as FS is finished it’s like a machine, you have to have a solid group of people that are willing to work together and give in ideas in order to keep the momentum going you know? After FS the show we have to go into Starfields and starting to think about Starfields next year and after Starfields its FS again. So in that sense I think that we are quite successful because we have managed for the past 26 years to keep this momentum going and I’m very proud of that.
TS: And what would you say to DW’s claim that they are the largest?
FS: I think that they’re a great fashion show. I greatly respect them and I think the work they’ve been doing is amazing. I don’t know their details in terms of numbers and things so I can’t re-ally confirm their claim, but I do definitely recognise that they are a great fashion show.
TS: Wrapping up, do you have any last comments for readers?
I just everyone to have a great time. I think there’s just so much effort that’s being built into this and every year it’s always so beautiful to see new people come on. I just want everyone else to just be able to enjoy it as much as we did.