The ‘Future’ of FS – FS 2024, Reviewed

Events Editor Nicole reviews one of fashion’s biggest nights in St Andrews, the annual St Andrews Charity Fashion Show.

To paraphrase Rodger and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music, how do you solve a problem like a success? While the proposition may sound paradoxical, it’s an inevitable issue when it comes to social calendar mainstays like the St Andrews Charity Fashion Show, where consistency must be perfectly paired with novelty. Now in its thirty-second year of being one of the hottest tickets in town in terms of student events, with status comes a pile of expectations as high as a final year undergraduate’s mid-term deadlines – no, I’m not projecting, I swear. Last year, FS smashed these expectations with its award-winning show Revival. Cohesively presented through the decades of twentieth century (plus Y2K) fashion history, with stellar thematic choreography and a perfectly curated soundtrack, I made the walk down to St Salvator’s Quad in the knowledge that this year’s show would be following a tough act to beat.

While last year, FS was all about nostalgia, 2024 was all about Future (put that together and you’ve got a Dua Lipa album). All jokes aside, it seemed as if FS was pivoting to the opposite end of the thematic spectrum, perhaps in a play by this year’s brand new committee – the triumvirate of creative director Brett Borthwick, executive director Lauren Weber, and logistics director Kate Capstick-Dale – to differentiate their show as much as possible from the previous year while considering pertinent questions of both the future of fashion and the future of FS itself in an age that’s ever-increasingly pivoting to the sphere of the digital. Borthwick’s eloquent manifesto of the show’s creative vision centred on the concept of ‘how technology is utilised as a vehicle for identity expression’ in the digital age, progressing through the three phases of the consumerist-oriented Web 1.0, the social interaction-based Web 2.0, and the decentralised future Web 3.0 to emphasise the reality within ‘virtual reality’.

The novelty of this year’s show was instantly perceptible as I descended into the depths of the marquee at Lower College Lawn, finding that the ubiquitous horseshoe-shaped runway had been swapped for a more classic iteration of the catwalk, shaped almost like a sword with a slightly raised platform midway through its length. As much as I was excited to see this change from the last two FS shows I had attended, this might have been a case where consistency should have been favoured over novelty. While the raised platform was a great addition – enabling guests at both Standard and VIP ticket tiers to have a better view of the fashion highlights – the new layout offered significantly fewer frontal viewing points for most guests, and the demarcations between Standard and VIP areas were far less defined.

 

Source: Nicole Entin.

As the main show began with a techno soundtrack and flashing lights, the central panel at the stage entrance was illuminated with the FS logo, smoke spewing from behind like a spaceship. I instantly perceived the theme of the evening through the opening number, choreographed by Emily McMenamin and Emma VanPeenan. Strutting down the stage in all-black dresses, suit jackets, dress shirts, and even quarter-zips, the models looked like the queue outside Berghain crossing over with the cast of The Matrix, complete with matching bold poses and movements. Transcending from the runway to the crowd, black seemed to be the order of the night for the fashion-forward attendees at FS, with many guests sporting variations on a classic LBD in various materials, cuts, and embellishments, often paired with bevelled sunglasses – at night? Groundbreaking. Metallics were also popular among attendees, following with the show’s futuristic theme.

 

Source: Nicole Entin.

This year’s roster of participating designers combined a significant number of established names with rising stars on the fashion scene. The English brand Reiss was represented in the menswear category with loosely cut, geometric-patterned shirts, while American womenswear designer Eileen Fisher presented the boxy, comfortable silhouettes characteristic of her trademark styles. The contemporary New York brand Ramy Brook was also extensively represented at this year’s show, with two gorgeous and summery gowns going on auction for partner charity Genetic Alliance UK at the halfway point of the show, selling for upwards of £400 each. There were several show-stopping pieces on display throughout the evening, particularly in the category of dresses and gowns. Towards the beginning of the show, one of the models stepped onto the platform of the runway wearing what appeared to be a ruffled, butterfly-like straitjacket. The two male models flanking her undid the straps to reveal – to the raptures of the crowd – a white knee-length dress with massive shoulder pads and two strings of fabric roses cascading down the back. The geometric and floral elements seemed at first incongruous, but created a striking shape that wouldn’t look out of place on an awards season red carpet. Another piece from the first half of the show that elicited gasps from the crowd was a gown that looked like crumpled aluminium foil, artfully draped and layered in an extreme take on the oversized trend.

 

Source: Nicole Entin.

While the first half of the show was cohesively presented in accordance with the theme of Future, with avant-garde silhouettes, bold colours, and pieces that would suit a denizen of Coruscant or the Capitol, the evening’s theme was admittedly less palpable in the second half of the show – presented after a charity auction in which the show’s impressive array of sponsors including Chanel and Swarovski was on full show. Although I had high hopes when rows of binary code illuminated the back panels of the stage to commence the intimatewear portion of the show, I found that neither the dressing nor the choreography particularly fit this year’s concept. The male models came onto the runway dressed only in jeans, looking more like a 2000s Abercrombie back catalogue than anything from the future. Swap the jeans for quite literally anything else – leather pants, even dark tailored trousers – and I would have immediately perceived the show’s theme.

In terms of logistics, I was particularly impressed with the organisation of this year’s show. Small details, such as card readers at the coat check and a number of easily accessible bars, made it clear that FS had taken into account common complaints at events of similar scale in St Andrews and ensured that they wouldn’t mar the evening for their guests. I particularly liked the arrangement of the space for the afterparty, with the DJ on a platform high above the crowd and more towards the centre rather than the back of the marquee. It gave the space the atmosphere of a fashionable club, and the music spanned the range from techno and house to remixes of popular crowd-pleasers (I see you ‘Style’, Taylor’s Version). As usual, it is important for FS guests to take into account additional expenditure on top of their already hefty £75-95 ticket, with steeply priced afterparty tickets at £35. There was a wide variety of food options, most of them fairly pricey, but items like the delicious wood-fired pizza and fresh churros were possible to split with a friend.

 

Source: Nicole Entin.

In conclusion, the entirety of the FS committee should all be given their flowers (and the ever-present magnum bottle of Moët and Chandon champagne) for an event that was another resounding success. With an impressive list of sponsors, globally recognised designers, and a well-produced event that in the end accomplished the goal of combining novelty with consistency, I was altogether impressed with the event’s professionalism and production value. With this review being one of my last as Events Editor for The Stand, I look forward to passing on the torch and the laminated press pass to my eventual successor – because if this is the Future of FS, I think I like it.

Comments

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109 thoughts on “The ‘Future’ of FS – FS 2024, Reviewed

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