Natasha Franks, our events editor, reviews the DONT WALK Charity Fashion Show, held Saturday 27 February at Kinkell Byre.
After nearly a semester and a half of launch events, photoshoots, and mysterious spray-painted signs appearing on pavements, DONT WALK returned to Kinkell Byre for what has been advertised as its largest iteration yet. With fashion giants Amanda Wakeley and Vivienne Westwood sponsoring the show alongside brands such as Eden Mill and the Vic, the night appeared to be the result of local and international cooperation, exemplifying the goal of DW: Supporting its spiritual birthplace New York, while delivering a genuine St Andrews experience.
Rivalling May Ball as the most expensive student-run event in town, DONT WALK immediately assured guests that their money had been well-spent. Tables of every tier were crowded with popcorn, smoothies, bottled water, and enough champagne to keep the assortment of bars relatively queue free for the majority of the show. Should guests finish their Piper-Heidsieck early, express bottle service was offered by Event Bars throughout the evening, a pleasant surprise to guests reluctant to leave their vantage points by the stage.
In addition to the variation of subtle and elaborate decorations that encased the venue, the committee sought to emphasise the charities at the heart of the night. Traces of the Robin Hood Foundation and Eighteen And Under could be found throughout Kinkell, from posters on the walls to information sheets on tables. Although the theme was High Definition, a depiction of our modern day surveillance society, DONT WALK offered its guests as much transparency as possible to explain their steep ticket costs.
Between free cupcakes from Tilt and plenty of alcohol, guests were in high spirits when the show began. Kinkell Byre being a relatively small venue, the stage itself could easily be seen from nearly anywhere in the main room, regardless of table location. The centrepiece of the multi-level runway was the DJ booth, surrounded by a phenomenal lighting setup to rival any professional concert.
Within the booth were Daniel Garner and Stuart Hindmarch, whose performances equalled those of the models as they, too, matched their carefully timed movements to a haunting mix created with the aid of fellow Head of Music Ashton Squires. The music of DONT WALK 2016 nearly silenced the notoriously exuberant crowd as the opening melody, synchronised at first with a mesmerising video and then with the entrance of the models themselves, dominated the room with its increasingly epic beat. Even contending with couture and cupcakes, I would call this year’s mix a standout of the night.
The show was, unsurprisingly, as entertaining as the committee assured us it would be. Stony-faced for their first round of walks, the models quickly let loose, dancing along the catwalk and grinning through the at-times surreal outfits they had been placed in. The fashion, although frequently overlooked by student guests, managed to impress the onlookers: Featuring everything from New York-based designers to Vivienne Westwood’s “Mirror the World” collection (exclusive to London, Milan, Paris, and DONT WALK), the show melded established brands with the up-and-coming, a compelling juxtaposition.
Following the auction, the night’s theme once again came into play for the show’s second half. Projected above the runway, a list of familiar names combined with seemingly-innocent actions (“… lives in Cardiff,” “… skipped a Management lecture last Tuesday,” “… recently interned at a Boston-based company.”) was displayed to the room. This tongue-in-cheek representation of surveillance encapsulated the question that DONT WALK endeavoured to raise: Who are we when no one is looking? Considering the amount of photographers present on the night, a peek at the Facebook albums may supply answers for many a guest.
Billed as an event in its own right, the afterparty seemed to spring up out of nowhere. Tables disappeared, the lights dimmed, and the DJs played us into a completely different setting, one reminiscent of an indoor music festival. The sudden influx of people and increase in volume filled Kinkell Byre to the brim, with the level of excitement reaching its height for the entrances of Craig Wilson and, as advertised, Otto Knows. Even to those of us who couldn’t tell House music from Hip Hop, Otto was outstanding. As much a showman as a DJ, he handled the tightly packed crowd wonderfully, his set an easy justification for the afterparty’s high ticket price.
Unconventional and utterly unique, DONT WALK 2016 did not offer many things to complain about. The committee appeared to anticipate problems before they could appear, sparing guests any inconveniences throughout the night and ensuring maximum entertainment at every moment. The obvious result of nearly a year of constant, unrelenting work from a devoted group of individuals, DONT WALK delivered on every count.
In the words of show attendee Ryan Hubner: “I would have paid so much more than what I did for what’s happening tonight. This is incredible.”
Photos courtesy of DONT WALK.