Last week lifestyle blogger Lauren Archer was invited to NE1’s Fashion Futures event at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Newcastle. Flanked by fellow bloggers Hannah Layford and Sarah Bosson, we couldn’t allow these lovely ladies to attend without a decent pair of frames. Kitted out in Tom Ford, Fendi and Stella McCartney, these Newcastle based bloggers acted as our incredibly stylish eyes and ears at the event.
Here’s the inside scoop from Lauren…
Last week, I was asked to head to Newcastle’s foremost annual fashion event, formerly named Newcastle Fashion Week, that’s undergone a bit of a rebrand and is now titled Fashion Futures.
Organised by lifestyle blogger Sandra Tang, along with Newcastle city regeneration board NE1, this year’s event promised to be the best yet. With a programme including industry talks (more on that later…), Northumbria graduates fashion show and a show-stopper show featuring local and national designers to close, they weren’t wrong.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it to the graduate fashion show (I heard it was a belter, though!), but for the talks and show, there was no way I was missing out.
The infamous Baltic set the stage, and I arrived wearing some gorgeous French Connection picks and my amazing Fendi Cateye sunnies in Black Cream Tortoiseshell. The panel, featuring a host of self-made designers and Creative Directors, including Michelle Taylor from luxe-lingerie brand Tallulah Love (one of my local favourites!) and Darren Spurling, MD at Terry de Havilland, all discussing their journey into the fashion industry. With an audience of eager Northumbria fashion students and graduates, the endless tips and advice were most welcome.
The one key takeaway? Be nice, be resilient, and the fashion world is yours to take.
Next up was everyone’s favourite quiff-haired designer, Henry Holland, in conversation with Laura Weir, Fashion Features Editor at British Vogue. Again, an insightful view into the world of high fashion, Holland’s introduction and subsequent journey into the fashion industry, and a refreshingly honest take on doing it for yourself. No surprise, Henry’s tips for success were somewhat similar to the earlier panel, but let’s be honest, it’s nice to be nice, isn’t it?
I was particularly interested in hearing how he grew his empire from printed slogan tees to one of Britain’s most successful independent labels, whilst also learning that the first chapter of his autobiography would be titled “WTF just happened?” See, he’s just like the rest of us!
Following the charming interview with Henry Holland, was the main headliner. Alexandra Shulman OBE, Editor-in-Chief at British Vogue. The bible. The fashionista’s handbook.
She was utterly fascinating and surprisingly, quite self-deprecating for someone casually heading up Britain’s most successful fashion magazine. There wasn’t a hint of Miranda Priestley about her, she was classy, knowledgeable and more than happy to divulge her journey into journalism and subsequently, editing.
She told us about starting at the bottom, hard work and the dedication it takes to make it in fashion journalism. She also told us about the contacts she’s worked with from the very beginning of her career as Editor, from the likes of Mario Testino and Tim Walker, names we now recognise as industry superstars, and how she’s proud that she can represent influential women (and men – David Miliband to be precise who are really making a difference in their respective fields!) like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Hannah Rothschild, to name but a few.
I can honestly say that Alexandra’s talk was one of the most interesting I’ve heard in a long time and if it’s any indication of how good she was, her hour felt like it lasted about 10 minutes. It’s rare to gain a glimpse into the life and career journey of someone so influential, so it’s fair to say I feel pretty honoured that I was able to.
After a quick pit stop to get changed before the evening’s events, it was time for Fashion Front Row…
Fashion shows call for glad-rags, in my opinion, so I opted for a summery pencil skirt, black crop sweater and trusty mesh heels. With the skirt being so vivid I decided to keep accessories to a minimum, but the Anna Wintour in me said that sunglasses were GO, so I went for the beautiful Chloe Myrte shades in ivory and was totally frow-ready.
I was given 5 minutes to pop my head in backstage and was greeted with, as you’d expect, a pretty chaotic scene, with Bare Minerals making each and every one of the girls look as luminous as possible and Zanders Hair perfecting the signature side parted straight ‘do that was replicated across the board. Given that this is the first year for Fashion Futures, however, I’d say all things were running smoothly, and that was certainly the case as the first model stepped out on to the catwalk at 7:30…
The show featured the work of old favourites like Terry de Havilland and Scott Henshall, along with new and exciting brands like Emma Bell, ethical label brm, which was actually one of my favourites (clean lines, neutral palette and print set – very Parisian) and the latex couturier Dayne Henderson, whose catwalk show got all mouths wide open. Think latex spikes, cat-suits and err, gimp masks. Take a look for yourself, in fact…
The North-east native designer has been previously commissioned by none other than Lady Gaga and works from a home-studio in North Shields, so it was great to see his truly unique offering against the rest of the more conventional shows.
Another brand representing the local scene was Tallulah Love, showcasing their stunning handmade lingerie. The only pitfall of seeing lingerie on a catwalk however, is the amount of guilt I felt for my decrease in gym activity and increase in brunch activity lately. Oops.
With a goodie-bag packed full of treats from the likes of Teashed, Jessica nails and Bare Minerals, us frow-ers were well looked after, as if a series of amazing fashion insider talks and a dazzling show wasn’t quite spoiling us enough. Post-show, we were whisked down to the Baltic’s stunning River Terrace to enjoy a glass of fizz overlooking the Tyne. What a delight!
Overall, the new-look Fashion Futures event was a huge success. Not only are graduates given the opportunity and ownership to unveil the public and press, but to have such inspiring and current guest speakers this year was a real coup for the organisers. Roll on next year!