Belfast’s style scene is set to burst at the seams this weekend as West Coast Cooler FASHIONWEEK returns for its 22nd season. The opening show, featuring collections from local designers and designer boutiques, kick started a four-day schedule of not-to-be missed events which saw a catwalk erupting with colour and creativity.
Opening night witnessed some show stopping pieces from FASHIONWEEK favourites Blush Boutique, Grainne Maher:: Vault, Jourdan, Diamond Dolls, Sands & Hall, Nor Lisa and Spoilt Belle Boutique as well as eye-catching ensembles from newcomers Zohara, Laura O’Hanlon Millinery, ONA by Agne, The Rosh Collection, and Vijeta Lal.
Trends ranged from memerising metallics to muted monochromes in blushes, beiges and bold burgundies. Feminine frills and ruffles were everywhere, giving a super feminine silhouette, and velvet added to this retro, boho feel. In complete contrast biker leathers and classic macs also appeared, in a massive range of colours, while a tweedy heritage trend also took over many collections, with capes, caps and knitwear completing the look.
Following the stunning displays of local talent, FASHIONWEEK Director Cathy Martin said “It’s an honour that our FASHIONWEEK catwalk is the platform on which many of these local designers and boutiques choose to showcase their newest designs. It’s important to recognise and champion local creativity as well as giving small boutiques and bespoke businesses the opportunity to meet their target market.”
Speaking of her first appearance on the FASHIONWEEK catwalk, knitwear designer Agne said “ONA by Agne has had such a fantastic reception since the launch event back in August and I’ve since been commissioned to make and design several pieces. Even tonight I’ve already had a whole host of enquiries and can’t wait to see what lies ahead for my brand.”
Owner of Spoilt Belle Boutique Rachel Shivers, said “We have been participating in FASHIONWEEK since I launched my first shop in Magherafelt in 2012, and having just opened our third store in Coleraine, our participation in FASHIONWEEK has become a key date in our seasonal planning.”
The high street show on 21 October sees the return of favourites Next, Remus Uomo, Marks & Spencer, Oasis, DV8 Fashion, Boux Avenue, and George at ASDA as well as a whole host of amazing ranges from the retailers at CastleCourt, including Designers at Debenhams, Miss Selfridge and Dorothy Perkins, among many others.
Speaking of their participation again this season AnnMarie Doherty, fashion buyer at DV8, said: “As one of Ireland’s largest locally owned retailers DV8 has grown from strength to strength over the years, with 42 stores across the island of Ireland and several more in the pipeline. Catering to both women and men, and for all styles, shapes and sizes the diversity of the FASHIONWEEK models and events match perfectly to our company’s ethos.”
Then at 1pm the ever stylish Sushi Saturday event takes place in Zen, with the People’s Catwalk back at BFW HQ in Life Church, which will see 20 people from across Northern Ireland take to the catwalk and to the hair and make up chairs for the first time. The oldest participant Valerie Clarke (59) from Dungannon said she “cant wait” to take to the runway!.
As usual the incredible schedule will finish in sumptuous style on Sunday 23 October with Style Sunday at Deanes at Queens, in association with Blush Boutique and in support of charity Action Cancer.
The four course fashion lunch with West Coast Cooler cocktails is complemented by talks from hair maestro Paul Stafford and make up artist Oonagh Boman who will guide audiences through top hair and beauty tips for the season with thanks to official FASHIONWEEK sponsors ALFAPARF Milano and Senna Cosmetics.