After last year’s unfortunate ‘wind incident’, it’s safe to say that the expectations for FS were in parts unduly high and in parts normalised from the somewhat untouchably glamorous reputation the charity fashion show has incurred over its nearly sixteen-year tenure. As fourth years and complete novices to the hidden wonders of FS (St Andrews Charity Fashion Show), my photographer and I had none of these aforementioned expectations, high or low. We knew that this event had a particularly prestigious reputation, that it was expensive to attend, and that everyone would be uniformly well dressed. This in mind, we prepared ourselves for a posh night out.
Press were allowed into the venue at the same time as VIP attendees, something we appreciated as it gave us a little time to get acclimated, see where the best photographs could be taken, and understand the general layout of the event. The lighting was purple and blue, and it was difficult at times to remember that we were in Lower College Lawn; the marquee was sturdy and felt a little like being in Kinkell Byre. The only real giveaway that we were in a University space was via the occasional stone steps, a charming reminder of where, precisely, we were.
The space was economically used, with a grilled cheese station and the coat checks on the outside rim of the venue, the main focus being the bars, the tables, and, of course, the runway. This layout made sense, our only criticism being that the tables, even in the VIP pit, were plastic and not sturdy. This was evidenced by a moment quite early in our evening in which an attendee drunkenly knocked an entire VIP table on me, causing multiple lacerations across my hands and arms. I was grateful then that the proffered champagne flutes were not made of glass.
The show itself started on time, and guests immediately crowded the first line of the runway. As far as we could tell, with limited experience in charity fashion shows, the event as a whole was professionally teched and managed: lighting cues and music transitions were seamless, and the models, while clearly not all models by trade, were well rehearsed, calm even in front of a very loud audience, and seemed to genuinely enjoy their time on the runway.
While I would not say that FS felt like a couture fashion show by any means, it stands as a unique way to merge the glamour of the fashion industry with the fun and interactivity of an elite club night, similar to the way it merges the event planning talents of St Andrews’s student body with the unique and elevated tastes of said body. Simple touches like the photo area, set up like any similar space at a Fashion Week event, the Veuve Chicquot champagne bottles (that actually littered the floor of the VIP pit towards the end of the show) and the pleasant, professional staff made the event feel unlike most balls or shows we’ve attended at St Andrews.
In terms of value, I’d imagine to the right (and target) audience, the high price of a ticket was very worthwhile, considering the quality of the venue, the ability to leave and come back throughout (a welcome addition that certainly added an element of comfort that balls at St Andrews sometimes lack), and the quality of alcohol available at the bar.
All in all, it was an effective show of event-planning talent, certainly made a a good deal of money for charity, and was a fun night for all involved.