Concept: an evening spent in 601 that isn’t too sweaty, where the dress code for the attendees can be anything from jeans and a crop top to heels and a cocktail dress – where for half the price of most fashion shows here, we receive a fashion show centred around diversity and, for the most part, more wearable fashion. The DJ is beyond reproach, the crowd is fairly small, so the views are good, and your friends high five you from the runway, dancing their hearts out. You’ve just pictured Catwalk, a fashion show in its third year of new life.
This year Catwalk’s theme was Paradigm. The aim was to rewrite the way that we view time as correlated to history. Time and fashion are to be seen as fluid, mixing and matching from decades just as ideas so often are. For today’s youth, social and political awareness have taken centre stage, destroying the constraints so often imposed on them. The beginning of the show, with all the models coming out together and dancing on stage, seemed to symbolise a collective movement and a collective voice, stepping up for the theme of the show.
The fashion was quite varied. Many of the looks can only be described as comfy chic: warm, loose sweaters with blue jeans, athletic wear with sweatshirts that look just warm enough to survive the frigid Bubble wind. The swimsuit line was bright and bold, and occasionally looked as if it had been coloured in highlighter. While these looks were nothing new or extraordinary on the fashion scene, all could work for your history lecture or even May Dip. It was the other looks, more in line with the theme, that really caught the audience’s attention.
From Victorian petticoats made out of jeans or patterns, to bright Macklemore coats with patches from different fashion fads, the fashion could only be described as edgy. The patchwork street section was a good idea – but ultimately was far too bold for what was seen by the audience as a more relatable fashion show. Some pieces were nicely done, classic kilts mixed with modern leather shoes, a military coat mixed with an outfit probably worn on The Crown. Others were not. While this writer may not have agreed with some of the fashion decisions, it is impossible to debate that they held the audience’s attention. (Whether positively or negatively, it remains to be seen.)
The show was an ideal one atmospherically. The crowd was smaller than at other shows, which gave the show an intimate feel. It also, however, highlighted a part of St Andrews culture that was remarked on by a friend of mine, stood next to me: that this was the cheaper, more relatable fashion show. It was held at the Union, and the models came in all shapes and sizes and from different races. All of this should have made the show an absolute sellout hit. Instead, it was the lowest attendance either of us had seen at a fashion show here. Perhaps this reveals an underlying desire for the more elite Don’t Walk, where the fashion is much less possible to replicate on your way to Pret – but the invite-only strategy leaves some salivating for an entry outside the giant tent.
That aside, those who ran Catwalk did a fantastic thing with the atmosphere. It was laid back, and Anna-Sophie Massek was one of the best DJs the crowd had ever heard. The models seemed to be having the times of their lives, their friends hoisting up signs to support them or yelling and clapping every time they came out. There seemed to be a lack of catcalling – the models didn’t feel like objects that the audience was looking to grab, spilling their glasses of champagne on the stage in the process. It seemed like a much more supportive, almost down-to-Earth event. People were dancing, laughing with their friends as jokes were cracked in between catwalks. The location lent itself to a less formal vibe, a different sort of Saturday night.
The event had several aspects that really were fantastic. As previously mentioned, the DJ was superb, the environment was welcoming and fun, there was a diversity in the models such that they felt more like actual people that you wanted to know and could relate to, less like sitting next to the runway at NYSW. While the diversity could always be improved, there was fairly diverse representation, which the show should be commended for promoting. The stage was simple and thus there were no possible eye sores. The clothing was overall very nice, many of the pieces feeling like they should be in everyone’s wardrobes. The show was shorter than last year, running at about an hour and a half, with the plain t-shirt section that had been previously complained about cut from the program.
With this praise being given, and the event overall being seen as a success, there are a couple of improvements that could be made. The auction that kicked off intermission was confusing, disorienting and impossible to follow, much less participate in. Too many guests had gone off to get drinks, so they talked loudly when they returned, trying to figure out what was happening and covering the voices of those running the auction. It might be better to move this portion to the end, with its existence made clearer. The intermission was also slightly too long but this could be because it remained impossible to tell when intermission actually started and the auction ended.
Overall, Catwalk 2018, Paradigm Shift, was a great show to attend. It wasn’t intimidating, didn’t feel exclusive and while it is a pity that more didn’t take advantage of its existence and attended, the show was well put together and it really felt as if everyone involved enjoyed themselves.