Last night saw a whole host of designers come together to show their new collections at the prestigious Leeds Fashion Show. The Dress Me Beautiful show runs annually and as well as supporting and showcasing local talent, the show aims to raise money for charities. This year, the show chose Cash For Kids – the umbrella brand for Bauer Radio’s network of independently registered, local charities which operate across 20 local areas within the UK.
Arriving at the beautiful setting of Leeds City Museum ten minutes before seating proceeded, it was clear the show was going to be a huge hit. A sea of Canon cameras lit up the building as the press scattered around chatting and gathering their press passes, eagerly awaiting the start of the show.
Once inside, and from a prime position, the catwalk was visibile and the excitement began to build for the start of the show. As the crowd thickened and the goodie bags were explored, the lights dimmed and Simone Daley-Richards, the host of the evening, appeared to welcome the guests and introduce the start of the Dress Me Beautiful Leeds Fashion Show.
The first half of the show got off to a great start with some inspiring looks from Rene Boutique. Carrie-Ann Toft, the independent fashion designer and design lecturer behind the brand, uses cutting edge designs which have earned her label a firm and loyal following across Japan and the UK. Her philosophy she says, is simple: “It is one of individuality and innovation. With each piece of clothing made in limited numbers, clients can be assured that what they are wearing is totally unique and extremely hard to come by.”
The next to suitably impress was designer Paulinah Eboh-Sampson with her Dancing Dolls label. As her models strutted out onto the runway, the crowd whooped with delight as the models – kitted out in black lace and spikes – made their way down the catwalk. The roars of delight from the crowd firmly placed Paulinah’s designs as one of the most applauded in the show, although maybe this had something to do with the scantily clad models strutting their stuff. Mentioned previously on FAB, Paulinah is a British born Nigerian designer who first created her underground label to cater for dancers of all genres within the West Midlands, later relaunching in 2010 as a more accessible womenswear label.
Glasgow born Kelly Ewing has been captivating the Northern fashion scene with her collections from the launch of her label in 2005. Many boutiques in the North of England currently stock her label as their only independent designer. Recently opening her first online boutique, Kelly is expected to attract more interest around her pretty, feminine designs over the coming months.
She draws her inspiration from Victorian aristocracy to pre-Raphaelite romanticism with well structured pieces consisting of corsetry and sharp tailoring along with vintage fabrics such as Harris Tweed. Draping, pleating and lining with silk creates a luxuriously couture collection that made the audience sit up and pay attention. Flirty yet sophisticated, Kelly Ewing is one to watch.
Last up on my list of ‘must mentions’ was the beautiful designs from Lisa Jayne Dann. Lisa studied Fashion Design as Dewsbury College of Art and Design where she was presented with a design award by the American designer, Ben de Lisi. Ben is a top designer in the USA and he is popularly known for being a mentor and judge on the television series, Project Catwalk.
Lisa quickly gained recognition for her key pieces and went on to win “Leeds Independent Retail Awards” Designer of the Year award. Lisa says, “I want women of all ages to feel the best they can. I use influences from past, current and future trends on the catwalk to create a unique and obtainable style. Sumptuous colours and vintage references inspire me within my work and I love to mix them with classic touches. I hope to provide the wearer with not only an eye catching, quality well cut garment, but also give them that special something extra that will keep them reaching for it over and over again…a timeless classic, and a much loved and cherished ‘best friend’.
Lisa’s first design to sashay down the catwalk was a beautifully floaty halterneck dress featuring a bright floral print. Flattering and innovative cuts were the order of the day as the elegant designs were showcased.
The show ended with a charity raffle and auction where over £100 was made for Cash for Kids. Leeds Fashion Show was, for another year, a resounding success. With stunning models, innovative designers and a stylish crowd, it’s fair to say that Dress Me Beautiful will return for another glamorous affair next year.
Images courtesy of Rachael Divers.