The annual St Andrews Charity Fashion is one of the University of St Andrews’ most coveted events. Founded in 1992, the fashion show is extremely well established on both the UK as well as the International fashion scene. The event was certainly not what one might have first thought of when envisioning a student-run fashion show, not what I had pictured in my head at least. The show was not only polished and well thought out, but what I really found most impressive was the fashion.
FS is the most successful student-run runway show in the UK and this year, like the ones before it, it was no amateur-hour production. In the past, the show has also been sponsored by big players in the international fashion industry like Fendi. One of the most alluring parts of this event is how it seamlessly marries established brands and up-and-coming designers.
In 2011, FS established the Young Designer Award, which most centrally values finding young designers whose collections are sustainable in either materials, minimizing waste, in design techniques or all of the above. The way that the competition works is that any young designer can apply through the FS website, five designers are chosen to design and present collections to a panel of fashion industry professionals, then the three top designers have their collections featured in the show.
Having seen familiar names such as Paul Smith and Ted Baker flash across the screen, I simply assumed that all of the collections being shown were by already-famous designers. So, when I found out that some of my absolute favourite clothes from the night were made my young, unestablished designers, I was absolutely awestruck. Bethany Hilton’s collection featured royal blue, mauve and black coloured coats, trousers and skirts, making the models look like powerful business women and fashion icons. Contrastingly, Pauline Noel’s collection made the models look pretty in pink, literally. While Hilton’s designs saw the models looking powerful and fierce whilst strutting their stuff, Noel’s beautifully delicate and airy designs saw the models practically floating down the catwalk.
Michelle McAuley, the winner of the YDA, presented a collection worthy of being shown at Fashion Week itself. Her designs were bold, editorial, experimental and though they might not have been functional off of the runway, they were incredibly emotive and effective on it. McAuley was clearly the boldest of the three young designers featured, having layered both textures, colours and styles, but all of the young women’s collections more than fit in with the already-established brands being shown–a true testament to their skills.
Not only were there incredible clothes shown at the Fashion Show on Saturday, but the event is also, most importantly, a charity event. To the FS team, “Charity is our paramount purpose, our quintessence. We work with local, UK charities because we hope to go beyond a one-time donation: we believe it is our duty to give back to the community that has unfailingly supported FS for a quarter century”. Thanks to generous sponsors each year, FS is able to donate all of the proceeds from the event to the charity of their choosing.
This year, FS partnered with SocialBite, an ambitious Scottish charity dedicated to ending homelessness in the country, and raising awareness for the struggles so many people go through. The FS team continues to push the limits of what is achievable by a group of students. To date, they have donated in excess of £550,000 to various charitable organizations across the country.
Everything about the fashion show was unique and exciting as well as impressive when it comes to its efforts of bettering the word and the environment. That is why I feel I have to point out that the after party was actually a bit of a disappointment. While the main event was unlike any other event at the University, the after party was quite the opposite. Perhaps it was because I did not feel that the event was worth £35 or because of how impressive I found the main event to be, but regardless it certainly didn’t ruin an otherwise fantastic night.
Overall, there is something to be said about an event that has remained one of, if not, the most anticipated event on the St Andrews calendar for over a quarter of a century. My hat goes off to the team of dedicated students who make it possible for the event to continue each year. If my only criticism is that the after party could have been a bit more unique, it is certainly more a testament to the grandeur and success of the main event rather than a critique of the team or the show itself. I loved seeing our small sea-side town connected to the global fashion seen, and I can’t wait to see that relationship continue to flourish in the future.