‘Scottish Heritage Shines Through on Fashion Catwalk’

Bouncing back for its 13th year as the most successful student-run charity fashion show in Europe, Edinburgh Charity Fashion Show (ECFS) this year reigns in patriotic prestige, far from the fashion week glamour of London, Paris, New York and Milan.

This year the ECFS team decided to choose a theme close to home, with the concept throughout being ‘This Is Edinburgh’, drawing upon its history, architecture and weather (yes, the choice to honour WaterAid as this year’s charity was no coincidence). Few venues could be more fitting, then, than the National Museum of Scotland – the securing of which easily being the show’s biggest feat yet. Ticket-holders flooded in to the sold-out show, held in the museum’s Grand Gallery with elegant overarching white pillars and high windows shrouded in violet light, perfectly setting the tone of elegance for the evening. The show itself moulds completely into the museum, for instance the extensive catwalk space encasing the Gallery’s centrepiece, a regal green cast iron drinking fountain, perfectly. A live band provides upbeat background music while guests chatter and laugh melodically amongst themselves, before chairwoman Safoora Biglari is welcomed onto the stage by the evening’s charismatic presenter, and we are all shown videos reminding us why we are here, reminding us of all the amazing work WaterAid do.

And the clothes? As one might assume, given the theme, the spectacular show kicked off with what is arguably the most recognisable and classic Scottish fashion: tartan. Indeed, the first male outfit we see is a classic red tartan kilt, and the first female ensemble a spidery, gothic grey dress worn with a veil. This gothic theme continues to be prominent in the first half, as a symbol of perhaps a more ‘classic’ Edinburgh, but is quickly contrasted with the bright, summery clothes that follow – cobalt blues and daffodil yellows are brought together in androgynous masculine suit ensembles worn by the female models, including a particularly memorable yellow blazer and cropped ruched trouser combination. This is presented alongside bright blue t-shirt dresses, always keeping the clothes from becoming too feminine. Then, however, comes the lace. Continuing the block colour theme in a more feminine fashion, the audience cast their eyes over delicate but loose floor length dresses with baggy t-shirt sleeves, bright pink lace kimonos, apple green blouses and orange football shirt-style dresses.

The more classic theme then returns towards the end of the first half, showcasing the male models in tweed suits, deftly posing with books at the end of the runway while being cheered on by fellow students. Timeless tweed is given a contemporary update with backpacks and bright pops of colour peeking from underneath. Female models go business-like in brilliant white suits with plummeting necklines, contrasting black and white broderie anglaise style shirts and Vogue-office-suitable blazers, many of which teamed with bright red tartan socks poking out over white or translucent shoes, constantly reminding us of the show’s theme and Edinburgh’s influence.

After the ruthless auction has been completed in the interval and many spectators have had a glass of restorative champagne, we return to the show. Given the focus on Edinburgh’s weather, it is no surprise that the second half got very wet, featuring models making a splash in contemporary chic black and white swimwear teamed with oversized tote bags and two-pieces bearing loud statements such as ‘OVER’ emblazoned on the back of a pair of cotton shorts. The long hair of the models is damp and natural, making for a true laid-back, surfer look – this may seem an unrealistic inclusion for a theme based around Edinburgh, but we are reminded to think of Edinburgh’s beautiful

beaches. The boys aren’t quite as bold, bringing a Hilfiger-esque vibe to the end of the show in neutral loose crisp shirts, aviators, preppy, navy sailor like blazers and equally as oversized totes as the ladies. After a few more plunging swimsuits and over-the-shoulder sweaters, the show ends on a summery note, with models showcasing the final sundresses and sweater-shorts combinations, before erupting into an on-catwalk party, pulling up members of the audience to Luther Vandross – Never Too Much; an apt choice for Edinburgh’s one charity event that the public just can’t get enough of. Edinburgh Charity Fashion Show is so much more than a mere fashion show, showcasing trends – it’s a fashion show, a charity fundraiser and a great night out all in one. A true triple threat of an event that will only be moving onto to even bigger, even better things.

Riona Doherty


The Student, Edinburgh, 2014


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