Bristol Fashion Week is a twice yearly fashion event that has been going since 2008. Held at a purpose-built pavilion in the grounds of The Mall at Cribbs Causeway, it is a showcase for ready-to-wear high street fashion.
The AW 2016 show was hosted by Henry Holland and stylist Mark Heyes. I attended the midday catwalk show on Friday 30th September, which featured ready-to-wear brands from Radley, Pandora, and John Lewis.
So what happens at the event? Bristol Fashion Week is spread across 5 days and hosts 17 catwalk shows.Each show lasts 45 minutes and features around 12 collections. Afterwards you’re free to wander the Pamper Zone in the main Cribbs Causeway Mall which offers a mixture of free and paid treatments, which are best to book in advance to avoid disappointment.
It would be criminal to use Henry Holland simply as a presenter and not tap into his own insight as one of the UK’s leading designers. Mark asked Henry about his latest collection showcased just a fortnight ago at London Fashion Week. It was full of gingham, frills and floaty fabrics for Spring/ Summer 2017. The floaty florals also feature for A/W16 and we saw winter florals take centre stage more than once.
The make-up team was from Boots No7, and their artists created flawless dewy skin with highlight to perfection. The look was finished off with vampy deep berry lips. Hairstyles for the catwalk were created by Tomlinsons of Clifton, showcasing an ethereal messy curled updos and twisted ponys that complimented the overall feel of the show. Each hair design was accented by a mix of stunning jewelled accessories placed delicately into the hair to add to the fairy feel.
The key trends for the season include ethereal fairytale inspired designs, animal print, military chic and, as it’s the run-up to Christmas, decadence and opulence. Here’s a collection by collection run-down.
The first collection was a homage to Rule Britannia Military, with navy blues, reds and whites featuring on every look. Clothing for this look was all styled from M&S with bags by Radley. As this is more of a consumer show, the looks were all very wearable and I would happily snap them all up for my day-to-day office wear. There was a mix of capes, vests and sleek tailored funnel neck wool coats adorned with military brass buttons.
Next up was Topshop and TopMan showcasing 80’s sports luxe for the second collection. The show itself was a high energy, active show complete with body popping and back flips. The models dancers were beautifully choreographed to banging electro-house beats. The clothes themselves were styled in off duty, street cool outfits. Think Salt N Pepa with a millennium update.
The fourth collection was focused on Winter Pastels. Inspired by Monet and his waterlilly paintings, it featured styles from John Lewis and jewelery from Pandora. We saw ditsy print dresses worn with pastel wool coats in pink, peach and dove grey float down the catwalk with Ellie Gouldings Love Me Like You Do as the musical backdrop.
For those longing for less floral and more grunge, the next collection fits the bill. The Lifestyle collection by Gap and Sole Trader was big on denim basics updated for AW16. The denim was paired with camel hues, dusky blacks and deep blues. We saw fur trimmed hoods that were a throwback to duffel coats of the 80’s but with more of a grunge edge. The winter scarves were oversized, long neck scarves left to drape and hang low. Footwear was also a nod to the 80’s with Adidas and sporty Keds-style white kicks on all the models.
The sixth collection showcased gothic evening wear from Lipsy for the ladies, and sleek tailoring from Next for the gents. The catwalk flowed with slinky black evening dresses, featuring lace trims and cut-out detail. The past few seasons underwear as outerwear trend continues with the Lipsy collection but in a much more wearable way, using lots of sheer panels with lace detailing.
If you’re not into the matchy-matchy looks, the next collection is right up your street. It’s the Mismatch trend inspired by cubism art, and featuring designs from The White Stuff and accessories by Radley. We saw a myriad of clashing colours and textures, mixed prints and block colours paired with an off-kilter elegance. We saw ditsy print shift dresses and tea dresses worn with brightly coloured tights and leggings, topped off with oversized headscarves draped over the heads of models. It was not that different from my style in my twenties- Asian-style full cover but layered and intentionally clashing, both style and culture. I saw a lot of my Nineties & Noughties self in this collection.
Dali-inspired fairytale designs made up the next collection. A range of surreal looks from Oasis, with footwear from Clarks, and accessories from Paperchase (yes, really!). The collection was styled like Alice In Wonderland (Tim Burton style) meets 80’s day-glo. Thus was my least favourite collection as it was just a bit too eclectic to work. There were gorgeous floral shift dresses paired with neon tights that screamed ‘night out in Shoreditch’ rather than Bristol Fashion. The outfits were all topped off with shimmery headscarves worn granny-style. Not a good set, unless of course you are raving in Shoreditch.
A perennial staple, animal print styled looks were sent down the catwalk in the penultimate look. The trend has adapted over the seasons and now we’re seeing leopard print in different colours, almost Dalmatian-like in black and white and also in more colourful hues. The faux furs we’re seeing are also not about being an alternative to real fur but are being used as a material in its ow right. The faux fur seen on the catwalk was in different colours and textures which added a different dimension to the looks. We saw leopard print mini-dresses from John Lewis paired with sleek winter tailoring. There were white leopard print fur coats paired with shift dresses. My favourite look however was a neon jungle twist on a classic look, camel coloured suede duster coats worn over neon floral dresses. It shouldn’t work, but it just does.
The penultimate runway collection was the one that I had been waiting for. Opulence. As it’s A/W, Christmas looks are starting to creep onto the high street. I love buying up a few key opulent party pieces for wear all year round. The one thing I love about being South Asian is Asian wedding fashion. I often mix ornate party pieces with my Asian outfits and get maximum wear out of them. This collection was full of little gems from M&S and I loved almost everything that was sent down the runway. We saw a lot of brown, copper and navy beautifully complimenting gold touches on the outfits. Jacquard was central to this seasons opulent looks, with ruffled collars, velvet smoking jackets, beautiful gold lame running through the veins of the stunning knitwear pieces. I can’t wait to try some of these stunning pieces for October weddings – with a collection this stunning, why wait til Christmas?
After a breathtaking opulence collection, came the finale – the Trend and Art Edit. This collection was an edit of the best looks from each trend. The models sashayed and danced their way down the runway in what can only be described as a party atmosphere to finish ff what was a really fun and vivacious showcase of the bet that the British High Street has to offer this A/W season. Love. Love. Love.