This year, the Edinburgh Charity Fashion Show promised to be different. And it certainly was.
Opening its doors at 18:30, guests were invited to go to the Upper Level Concept Space. Two bars offered drinks, while tall tables distributed along the room allowed for casual conversation in small groups. There was art displayed on the walls and live music playing throughout. After enough socialising, people started to make their way down. Previous years had accommodated more than 500 guests, but this year it was much smaller, which gave the whole show a sense of privacy.
There was no built runway. Instead, models walked along the room and towards the DJ, almost touching the guests’ legs on the way back. The room was not excessively decorated, but the various spherical and cubic lamps hanging from the ceiling along the runway were just enough to give the place an edgy touch.
Before the show kicked off, Amber Coleman, chairwoman for ECFS, thanked everyone and introduced Kate Polson, chairwoman for The Rock Trust. Her inspiring words and the way in which she talked about the potential of young homeless people and the need to support their cause was eye-opening; after a short but impactful video on homelessness, the show began.
The music was a vital component of the success of the evening, and during the first part, R R Shaman managed to create music that went perfectly with the designs, featuring pieces by Beam Shoes, Kate Cockburn and Melissa Obika amongst others.
While live guitar, keyboards and even singing characterised the first hour, the second part was less innovative and more traditional. But, they still managed to get everyone involved and the models were more relaxed and increasingly loosening up, sometimes even waving at the audience.
The designs were not quite your everyday fashion, and sitting back you could see how each piece had been carefully planned. If the outfits were to be described in three words, they would be extravagant, elegant and unique.
During the interval, live music was still being played at the Upper Level Concept Space, featuring Jambouree and their jazz funk fusion tunes, while staff carried trays around with five different kinds of finger foods and two amazing mini-desserts; the cocktail bar was kept busy by the thirsty guests.
Before the second half started, the raffle winners were announced by Alex Poole, the host for the night. Prizes ranged from bottles of Gin or Vodka, to magazine subscriptions and yoga classes. The auction winners were named too, and those who were lucky to have bid highest received tickets to Wimbledon, a tour around Australia and an evening escape to Stobo Castle Spa, amongst others. Then the music resumed and we saw designs by Graeme Black, Kodai Clothing and Topshop.
Comparisons are never good, and this is why one should never look back at the previous show for reference. But it is unavoidable when this year was so different. The warm, bright and familiar atmosphere that had characterised some of the previous shows was replaced by a cold, vintage but exclusive concept, where in a sense, it felt more serious and less student-organised, fitting perfectly with Edinburgh Fashion Week.