Saying that I’ve been to a fair few events in my time at St Andrews would be a slight understatement. I’ve danced the night away at balls, seen a good number of fashion shows, and yes, I went to the Taylor Swift Bop in January. Yet after the glitz and glamour of the event that has just been named University Charity Fashion Show of the Year by the Scottish Fashion Association – congratulations are in order – I came home to the warm cup of tea awaiting me at my flat with one thought on my mind.
How did it take so long to find the best music I’ve ever heard at any event in the last three years?
Pause. Record-scratch. Let’s rewind a bit, shall we?
My night at Revival, this year’s St Andrews Charity Fashion Show in support of Genetic Alliance UK, began as I followed the bass-heavy music drifting down North Street on a pitch-dark February evening, making my way to St Salvator’s Quad. A more central change from last year’s venue of the Madras Rugby Pitches, I certainly appreciated the local feel of the setting – both as a complement to this year’s theme and to my feet, which were preparing themselves for several hours of standing up and watching models strut down the runway. There was something undeniably transformative about entering the marquee on Lower College Lawn, descending the familiar stone steps into another world swathed in purple and blue light, where well-dressed VIP guests sipped from miniature bottles of Moët and Chandon (one of the night’s several impressive sponsors, in addition to Dior and Tiffany and Co.) as they eagerly chatted about what the evening had in store. As I spoke with attendees, many of them told me that they were looking forward to the theme of the show, which promised aesthetics from the swinging ’60s, to 90s punk, to Y2K nostalgia. Others were simply there to support friends on committee or modelling in the show, but their enthusiasm was no less strong. Several guests had taken the show’s theme to heart as a dress code, putting together outfits that featured vintage or retro-inspired pieces.
As the lights were killed and the venue grew silent, the intro video started to play to the soundtrack of classic rock, invoking the opening credits of a 1960s action flick. The models walked out in shift dresses and crew neck sweaters to raptures from the audience, beginning an opening number that seemed to find its place as a minimalist dance to rock and roll, hopping and stomping to the beat. Revival’s two choreographed numbers – the opening number and the Bond-girl silhouette inspired lingerie and underwear portion that opened the second half of the show – perfectly complemented the theme of the evening. There were plenty of eye-catching pieces on display already in the first few minutes of the show, and I noticed one model wearing the iconic Gyles & George ‘I’m a Luxury–’ sweater made famous by Princess Diana. The sixties portion of the night was undoubtedly my favourite segment of the show, winning me over in two short words: the Beatles. The music video for ‘Help!’ played as models made their way down the runway in printed maxi dresses by French brand Cruz & Pepita, channelling retro, summery nostalgia.
And now we get to the matter of the soundtrack. Revival was organised in chronological order, each segment of the show moving between styles inspired by the various distinct aesthetics of the decades. I definitely found that the theme this year was far more cohesive than last year’s Encompassing Environments, upheld both by the fashion on the runway and the audio-visual production. Mod-style dresses turned to flowy flower-child caftans turned to flares and checks turned to plaid ensembles. And what truly kept the theme going throughout the show was the music. I think some benevolent deity of student-run events had finally answered my call when I heard ‘Help!’ over the impressive sound system of the marquee, with projected music videos helping to set the scene. Then Elvis, then Gloria Gaynor – my raised-on-the-classics-listening-to-burned-cds-in-the-car-with-my-parents music taste was being watered like it had never been before, outside of my customary power-walks across town to the Sports Centre. By the second half of the show, the crowd was raised to a fever pitch as the Black Eyed Peas’ ‘Pump It’ played, followed by a little Francophone flair with Stromae’s ‘Alors on Danse’. Perhaps the only downside, if there can be a downside, to such stellar music was that some people in the very dense crowd started thinking that this was the world’s best club night rather than a fashion show. And while I’d never begrudge anyone a little boogie, I was admittedly afraid of more than a few flying elbows.
It would be difficult to choose my favourite looks of the show, but there were certainly a few that stood out to me, ranging from elevated everyday styles to gorgeous dresses for evenings out. Upcycled denim pants covered in patches and decals by Wash Me Studios mixed vintage thrifting vibes with fashion-forward streetwear, while a feathered and beaded tank top by local student designer Kinu Charité Dadaille found the unexpected meeting point between Art Deco geometricism and Y2K-era Disney Channel dreams. A stunning white jacket and pants ensemble with jutting spikes opened the space-inspired, eighties portion of the show, but unfortunately it was barely visible if you were not standing not in direct view of the central runway. Bonnie Young’s collection of dresses was also a high point of the evening, as well as the flowy patterned shirts and caftans by Blair Borthwick.
The logistical organisation of Revival apart from the fashion show was solid, with a large amount of security, a handful of food options ranging from shawarma to crêpes, and an efficient coat check. The two halves of the show were separated by a charity auction, with the star piece up for grabs being a Tiffany and Co. necklace that was ultimately sold for half its retail price. The featured headliner of the afterparty was Young Pulse, known in the European DJ circuit for his disco-inspired remixes. While I can’t fault FS for their on-theme choice of afterparty act, the food stalls were less plentiful and diverse than at last year’s event (I have very fond memories of the taco stand back in ’22). The omnipresent Shawarma House even had their usual menu somewhat conspicuously pasted over with new prices, and I couldn’t help but remember that I had paid somewhat less dearly at Christmas Ball for their now £5.50 curly fries with cheese. Mes chers amis, it’s just potatoes in funky shapes with semi-melted cheese on top. We are in a cost of living crisis, after all.
To conclude, Revival was a stunning display of fashion that has consistently impressed me with the high degree of professionalism and production value at a student event. The three-person directorial team, Brynn Hanson (Creative Director), Carleton Blackwell (Executive Director), and Maxwell Stroemer (Logistics Director), as well as the committees which they lead, should be commended for producing a show that truly upheld FS’s reputation as one of the biggest events in town. Consistently emphasising their theme in all aspects of the show, FS brought some much needed retro nostalgia to the St Andrews Bubble, and created a memorable, award-winning evening – the soundtrack to which I’ll be remembering for a very long time.