St. Andrews is a town with a surprisingly impressive fashion culture. Walking down the street, one will rarely see a haphazard outfit. Rather, St. Andrews students seem to be committed to putting time and effort into their outfits, whether it be a casual street-style look or an extravagant, flamboyant ensemble. It is no surprise, then, that the University has several fashion shows put on by students. CATWALK is one of these shows, dedicated to raising money for their three charity partners and promoting student creativity.
On Thursday night, I attended the CATWALK Launch Event in Beacon Bar at the Student Union. While there was no dress code to attend, I could tell this event was geared towards fashion as everyone confidently wore bold prints, vibrant colors, or strong, monochromatic black outfits. The room was abuzz as everyone got their cocktails and mingled, excited to see what CATWALK had in store.
Soon, CATWALK’s director, Kate Tempel, introduced the theme of CATWALK 2022: Uncover. This theme, Tempel elaborated, grew from the question ‘What does fashion look like in a post-covid world?’ This theme, Uncover, seems apt for the time as rising vaccination rates mean more unmasked, in-person events, allowing us all to “uncover” our faces to confront the post-covid world. Tempel then took a moment to introduce the evening’s speakers: former student turned London fashion designer Noemie Jouas and International Justice Mission speaker Zoe.
Noemie, a 2021 graduate of the university who is now a fashion designer in London, debuted her first collection at CATWALK in 2020, showing just how powerful a creative outlet and platform like CATWALK can be. She emphasized sustainability in fashion, noting how the blazer she was wearing was her grandmother’s and discussing how she tries to thrift the fabric for her designs. Noemie also touched on ‘slow fashion,’ an antithesis to ‘fast fashion,’ wherein quality is valued over quantity and sustainability is valued over a quick buck. She finished her speech by saying that there are always ways to be sustainable, giving an almost call-to-action to all attendees to rethink where they’re sourcing their fashion.
Noemie’s talk on sustainability led perfectly into Zoe’s speech on the modern slave trade in fashion. Working for the International Justice Mission (IJM), Zoe is adamant that ‘fast fashion isn’t free–someone is always paying.’ While her talk on modern slavery was certainly jarring, she raised awareness for the immense suffering that fast fashion can incur. The IJM, she says, is working to address this modern slavery. Zoe also ended with a call-to-action, encouraging attendees to raise their voices, buy ethically, and stop slavery at the source.
Once the speakers concluded after several rounds of applause for their inspiring speeches, the time came for the models to walk the ‘runway’ through the Beacon Bar. Everyone gathered to one side as models in all black walked the runway, their choreography immaculate and their stage presence enrapturing. CATWALK boasts a diverse cast of models, all stunning, and one could tell they had rehearsed well for their choreographed walk. After a few minutes, the show concluded with a bursting round of applause from the audience, excited to see what CATWALK 2022 will look like. Everyone was then invited to stay, drink, and mingle, ending the night on a high note of anticipation and excitement for CATWALK 2022. If it’s anything like the Launch Event, I’m sure it will be a night to remember!