Natasha Franks previews DONT WALK, held Saturday 27th February at Kinkell Byre.
It’s not your typical university event.
With fashion giants Vivienne Westwood and Amanda Wakeley walking the runway and tens of thousands of pounds being raised for charity, the DONT WALK Charity Fashion Show can hardly be considered a typical event, period. Organised by a carefully curated team of students, the show regularly undertakes the massive task of rebranding itself every year, promoting the spectacle rather than the tradition. While certain St Andrean events can be considered “bucket list” items, DONT WALK’s ever-changing nature ensures that each show will offer an entirely new experience for each iteration, a feat that even professional events struggle to achieve.
This year, the committee intends to outdo itself. Head of Public Relations Paula Murmann and Executive Director Gabriela Flax both describe the planning process as self-competitive by nature. They constantly seek to improve upon themselves, be it by increasing the scope of their event or by increasing the amount donated to charity. DONT WALK 2016 aims to do both of these things: In its 15th year, the production of both the show and the afterparty has been raised to unfathomable levels. Between the lighting, the sound system, and the physical layout of the venue, the committee has promised to “blow the roof off Kinkell Byre.”
The DONT WALK 2016 committee is a force to be reckoned with. A mixture of new and returning faces, they all share a passion for their brand and drive to excel. Describing themselves as a family, the team promotes open channels of communication at all hours, meeting in person at least once a week but remaining in contact with each other throughout the day. Every member of the committee is fully aware of all aspects of the show, a necessity considering the difficulties of planning such a massive yet intricate event.
The close knit nature of the DONT WALK family is cultivated by their invitation-only pre-show events, such as their superb launch at Forgans or cocktail night at the Adamson. These committee-orientated socials are complemented by the numerous events thrown throughout the year at the Vic. By melding exclusive with inclusive, the Don’t Walk brand has evolved into something both mainstream and niche. Although the limitations of Kinkell necessitate the show itself being invitation-only, the afterparty, headlined by Otto Knows and advertised as an experience in and of itself, will be open to anyone lucky enough to buy a ticket before the event inevitably sells out.
In addition to maintaining a steady presence throughout town, the DONT WALK committee has been hard at work arranging sponsors and designers for what they promise will be their biggest show yet. Local distillery Eden Mill will be one of the stars of the night, having allowed DONT WALK to auction off bottles of gin customised with the DW logo. This marks the first time Eden Mill has allowed anyone to brand their iconic bottle, a display of faith in this year’s committee.
Other notable sponsors include Piper-Heidsieck Champagne and New Amsterdam Vodka. The latter is particularly topical considering DONT WALK’s focus on the city of New York, the birthplace of many up and coming designers featured in the show. Also headquartered in New York is the Robin Hood Foundation, one of the two chosen charities supported by DONT WALK 2016. The committee, having visited the charity’s headquarters over the past summer, plans on emphasising their charitable goals by providing guests with as much information as possible on where exactly their money is going. Information packets on tables and in goodie bags, signs placed on the walls throughout the venue, all with the goal of showing ticket holders how the money will be used to directly help charity. Along with the Robin Hood Foundation, Dundee-based charity Eighteen and Under will be a recipient of this year’s donation, which is on track to be the organisation’s biggest one yet.
With ticket prices considerably higher than any other local event, the committee fully intends to give guests the experience of a lifetime. The soundtrack of the show has been originally produced by DONT WALK’s in house DJs, Stuart Hindmarch and Daniel Garner, who have worked alongside fellow Head of Music Ashton Squires to create a mix that will be more than background noise. Each second of the opening has been meticulously matched with the motions of the models, another example of the need for open communication between the various committee subsections. The performance will be the brainchild of Music, Choreography, Fashion, Creative, and countless other branches of the committee, all working in unison to create a single performance.
Coachella and Tomorrowland are two of the words that DONT WALK 2016 has modelled itself after, words that foreshadow an event of mammoth proportions. Marketed as “High Definition,” a depiction of our modern surveillance society, the committee is fully prepared to be watched on February 27th. Whether one attends as a show guest or an afterparty guest, the night will surely be an utterly unforgettable affair.
Photos from DONT WALK 2015 courtesy of Lightbox Creative