The exclusive preview of The Mall, Cribbs Causeway’s ‘Bristol Fashion Week’ took place at Aerospace Bristol alongside the mighty Concorde, which stood grandly in the middle of its extensive aircraft hanger.
The catwalk was set beneath the wings of Concorde alongside three long rows of benches for the audience, who received a glass of bubbly on arrival. There were amazing projections of New York landmarks on the side of Concorde, which really added to the atmosphere and built up excitement for the show. But, sadly, this was about as exciting as it got.
The space was immense and with only a handful of models, things seemed a bit slow and sterile. The models were very far away, even from the front row, and they seemed disconnected from the audience. It also didn’t help that they were on the same level as the audience, rather than on a raised catwalk, making views of the garments quite restricted.
The outfits themselves were rather bland and uninspiring: it felt as if we were always waiting for something to happen. The ethereal projections on the side of Concorde were a welcome distraction as models wearing garments from M&S, Jigsaw and Cath Kidston went passed unnoticed.
Things livened up a bit with John Lewis’s attempt to bring back the seventies with a bit of colour and print, followed by an urban trend featuring streetwear garms from Beyonce’s Ivy Park collection at Topshop. The most inspiring collection came from the future trend, which included white and silver garments from Topshop and River Island. There were a few interesting pieces and styling ideas in there, including metallic puffa jackets worn over all-white outfits in a look that was fresh, contemporary and cool.
The show was over rather quickly, and the excitement soon fizzled out. The atmosphere you would usually expect from a fashion show, especially a preview, was soon gone: completely upstaged by Concorde.
Perhaps this was because the audience barely reacted throughout the show: it was unclear whether they were enjoying it or not. The show came to a close with a slightly awkward word from celebrity hosts Cherry Healey and Mark Hayes .
Maria Crayton, head of marketing for The Mall, has been running the Bristol Fashion Week shows for ten years. “It’s a lot of hard work and a big event for us,” says Maria. “The idea was that Bristol Fashion Week is already established, but it’s like a television program: people like the format, but you have to keep your content fresh.
“I was also looking at designer shows, which are all about unique locations, so I started thinking about where we could hold it? I knew Aerospace Bristol was opening around the same time, so I approached them to ask if we could run our show alongside Concorde.”
“The whole idea is that you could fly to New York in three and a half hours and go shopping, so that’s why the scenes (projected onto the side of Concorde during the show) took you through different trends and locations in New York, and this theme continues into the other shows”.
The main Bristol Fashion Week shows took place at the less unique location of the Fashion Pavilion in The Mall, Cribbs Causeway, with a busy thirteen shows over three days.
The name Bristol Fashion Week has not come without its controversy. London Fashion Week, for example, features and supports local and independent fashion designers, so to use the name Bristol Fashion Week, you might be under the impression that it would include Bristol fashion designers. But this isn’t the case.
When posed the question of why no local designers take part in she shows, Maria said: “Our main objective is to support the retailers and brands in The Mall. It would be lovely if we could include Bristol fashion designers, but it’s a financial issue.”
There is, of course, no reason why The Mall cannot hold their own fashion shows for their retailers, and it seems to be a very popular event with Mall-lovers. It just feels a little disingenuous, when Bristol has such a rich vein of indie designers who would flourish and add much-needed interest to an event such as this. Only time will tell if The Mall will seriously consider supporting local designers in the future.
Bristol Fashion Week takes place at The Mall, Cribbs Causeway. For more information on Bristol Fashion Week and other events at The Mall, visit www.mallcribbs.com/events
Read our Fashion Editor Emma’s blog No Debutante