The venue of Sunday night’s Fashion Showcase Wales was the quietly tucked away Coal Exchange, which narrowly missed out on being the home of the Welsh Assembly Government in the seventies. The building is almost lost in the new developments of Cardiff Bay and the shadow of the Wales Millenium Centre, but its understated grandeur perfectly suited the show’s eclectic and dramatic concepts.
The event raised money for local homeless charity, Llamau, which works with socially excluded and vulnerable young people. The section called Fluorescent Adolescent was designed and created by some of the young people that Llamau has worked with. Their models walked to Florence and the Machine’s ‘Dog Days are Over’ in neon tutus, oversized bows in mis-match fabrics, and a pair of wet-look leggins bearing the big silver words ‘give me a freakin chance’. The show was as bold as the clothes, and the designs were customised on stage before the runway was flooded with dancers in neon suits.
I spoke to Leah Davis from the Off the Cuff fashion agency, who said that the designs were all about self expression.
Jasmine Mann is one of the top stylists at Vanilla Rooms salon, and helped create the Fluorescent Adolescent section with the young people through Llamau. She said,
“The first job was to put together mood boards, to see what they like and each outfit had to have a message from them, from their past, from where they saw their future going. We rummaged around charity shops and then it was just cutting them up and creating some outfits from there.
Initially the young people can be a little bit distant, it can be a bit difficult to break down their boundaries – they’re no different to any other teenagers you might come into contact with. The difference is they’ve just had a different start in life from the rest of us. But I think that gives them an edge – they’re witty and resilient. Creatively, I think they’re far superior to most other teenagers because you only get creativity through life experience.”
The show included a market place, with local companies selling vintage clothes and accessories and original printed t-shirts. Every corner of the hall had another fashionable curiosity for audience members to get as close as possible to the clothes.
See below for some suggestions of where you can go in Cardiff to get your hands on things like this…
The tone of the show was set by the first section, themed ‘Rock’. All the clothes were sourced from local charity shops, girl after girl wearing sleek monochromes and stilettos, their stomps accompanied on stage by local band The New 1920. Every element of the show had a thoughtful, homegrown twist.
The other stands around the room respresented the other sections of the show – ‘Penny For Your Thoughts’, ‘Love is a Battlefield’ and ‘Spacebook’, with designs based around hopes and dreams, 1940s style and outer space. The clothes were created by young designers from across South Wales, and the styles were topped off by theatrical make-up students from Coleg Gwent.
The designers, who were (or still are) fashion students at Newport, Cardiff and Swansea universities cited inspirations like Banksy for his experimental approach in their unique designs.
The show involved more than 300 models, designers and stylists. Even with so many contributors , the show was effortlessly consistent with high fashion styling punctuated by dancing and live music.
Here’s the word cloud I made from the Fashion Showcase Wales website.
There is clearly plenty of inspiration Cardiff fashion world, and this was just a taster. So if this is your kind of thing, here are some other places in Cardiff you might like…
Northcote Lane Market – On the 1st Sunday of every month, Milgi on City Road holds a market including vintage and handmade clothes and jewellery, clothes from local designers. There’s also local, ethical and organic food on offer from Milgi’s kitchen.
Blind Lemon Vintage Fair – The next one is on Sunday 28th February 2010 at 10 o’clock in City Hall.
Buffalo Boutique – Keep an eye on upcoming events on the Buffalo Boutique. Facebook group
Forever Vintage – This Penarth boutique is famed for its vintage treasures.
Spiral Craft – Local handmade jewellery to buy online.
Oyster Shop – Castle Arcade