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Last week saw the official media launch for this year’s ‘WEST COAST COOLER SS16 FASHIONWEEK’. Now in its 21st Season (I kid you not!), the 'fash-pack' gathered, to get a sneak peek at several trends that will appear on the runway (and inevitably fill our wardrobes), in the coming months.
This year's fabulous four-day event will run from March 10th - 13th, and will see the return of nightly catwalk shows featuring collections from both the high street as well as from independently owned boutiques, plus local designers’ work; the ‘Sushi Saturday’ and ‘Style Sunday’ events round off the weekend of fashion.
Celebrating a milestone anniversary, the event features a ‘coming of age’ theme, with the addition of a new ‘Fifty over Fifty’ show for fashionistas in their fifties and beyond, as well as the re-introduction of the Fashion & Retail Awards, which will celebrate the history of the event, as well as looking to the future of local fashion.
FASHIONWEEK Director Cathy Martin said: “I’m sure everyone will agree that there is some incredible creative talent here in Northern Ireland and it’s time to acknowledge and celebrate what we have on our doorsteps.” She also reminded us that former FASHIONWEEK participant, and Magherafelt man, J.W. Anderson, won both Female and Male Designer of the Year, at last year’s British Council Fashion Awards, to emphasise the point!
FASHIONWEEK new-comers, this season, include Sarah Alexander Boutique in Newtownards and Lotus Boutique, which is due to open in Holywood, in March, stocking high-end designer collections for hire.
Preparing for her first season, proprietor of Sarah Alexandra Boutique, Sarah Holman said, “It is a fantastic opportunity for me to show Belfast’s top style enthusiasts the fantastic brands we have in store, including Lavish Alice, Freddy Jeans and Genese among many others.”
The High Street Heaven show will be bringing the latest looks from the nation’s biggest and busiest stores including Next, Warehouse, Remus Uomo, DV8 Fashion, Diamond Dolls high street range, as well as Dorothy Perkins, New Look, Designers at Debenhams and Miss Selfridge from CastleCourt, and brands like Joules, Tommy Hilfiger and Guess from Alana Lifestyle in Lurgan.
Chantelle Craig from high street retailer Next said, “We are delighted to be back at Belfast FASHIONWEEK for another season and can’t wait to showcase our latest collections which are inspired by spring floral prints and feminine frills in sumptuous fabrics for that truly feminine customer… and fashion minimalists will also see us offer a wide range of pale casual knits and cottons; and we hit the top season trend with double denims galore available in store.”
Regarding menswear trends, Remus Uomo’s Marketing Manager Martin Byrne said, “As men become more confident in their style choices, the move is away from plain, solid colours and toward pattern, interesting fabric structure and varied textures for the coming season.”
Cathy Martin, added, “Trends are sticking around and evolving over a few seasons now, it’s not like something is hot and trendy for just a few months and then it disappears again. So, right now, we’re seeing a return to colour popping and blocking from 2015, but contrasting fabrics as well as colours are used to create a bold and bashful look. For those a little more fashion shy, pale pastels are perfect, and this season they’re mixed with off-shoulder silhouettes plus lots of romantic ruffles and frills for a feminine feel. Florals abound again – they’ve been around for about four seasons now in various guises, but this time they’re also embracing frills and ruffles too. It’s quite a romantic and feminine season all in all. To counter this, there is a massive ‘death by denim’ trend, with all-denim-everything ensembles across most designer and high street collections.”
Returning for its third time in association with West Coast Cooler is the COVERGIRL competition. FASHIONWEEK will once again seek to find ten models – and one ultimate COVERGIRL – who will walk away with a host of amazing prizes including £1000 worth of fashion from Victoria Square, plus return flights from airline partner Aer Lingus and make up and hair by the event’s official partners Oonagh Boman and Jason Shankey Hair.
Make Up director Oonagh Boman talked of her excitement of returning as the official make up partner saying, “We can’t wait for everyone to see the catwalk make up looks we have in store for the season ahead, which will be created using Senna Cosmetics and Domina Skincare.”
Siobhan Casey, Director of Marketing at AgeNI commented, “Age NI is delighted to be associated with Belfast Fashion Week’s new ‘Fifty over Fifty’ showcase to highlight how fashion, style, image and body confidence are important at any age – we all want to look good and feel great. Being part of Belfast Fashion Week’s Coming of Age themed event this season demonstrates how the fashion industry is positively reflecting our ageing population and shows that older people are valuable and visible, in fashion as in life. We’re looking forward to seeing Age NI volunteers and ambassadors on the catwalk, showcasing the best SS16 looks for men and women in later life and we’d love to see fashion-forward Age NI supporters of all ages at the show too!’
For those unable to make the evening catwalk shows, the return of Sushi Saturday at the uber-chic Zen is a welcome treat. The “Director’s Cut” fashion event showcases 36 of the best looks from across all shows at Belfast FASHIONWEEK, whilst guests can enjoy a welcome West Coast Cooler cocktail and an Asian inspired afternoon tea, for £30 per person.
The schedule will close with the popular flagship ‘Style Sunday luncheon’ at Deane’s at Queen’s on 20 March. This four course gourmet luncheon, which is run in association with Action Cancer, accompanies trend forecasts, a mini fashion show and a mini masterclass from FASHIONWEEK’s hair, style and make up partners; plus designer fashion, from Candy Plum boutique, in Hillsborough. The charity lunch costs £45.00 per person and places can be booked, directly through the restaurant, by calling 02890 381555.
The full show schedule and additional information is available online, at www.belfastfashionweek.com. Catwalk tickets, which cost £20 (or £30 for a limited number of exclusive front row seats), are available from the Belfast Welcome Centre, on 028 9024 6609, or via the website. Ticket price includes a goodie-bag and a refreshing West Coast Cooler.