Books Editor Henry Crabtree reviews Label’s annual fashion show, back for its last St Andrews instalment: a Deconstructed Fairytale, held at the Rufflets Hotel on Friday 13th April.
This is my first time reviewing a fashion show, so you’ll have to bear with my unprofessional outsider’s eyes – yet this was a wonderfully enjoyable evening out, with the Label managing committee, creative minds, and models all coming together for a great take on ‘deconstructing a fairytale.’ A tale in two acts, the show promised to move “our runway from lighter, more traditional silhouettes and prints, to a place of darkness, disarray and opportunity.” Welcomed by the St Andrews Bells a cappella group, whose stripped back rendition of Stormzy’s ‘Blinded by Your Grace’ set the tone for the deconstructed fashion show to come.
In the immaculate venue of the Rufflets Hotel just outside of town, the garden suite and surrounding greenery was transformed, with lights flickering on the ceiling like stars, into a blank slate for the featured designers and models to imprint with their own styles, passion, and their unique human imprint. Each model brought their own personal flavour to their walks which, combined with the chemistry among the entire team, led to no end of poses, laughter, and enjoyment on the runway. Founder of Label Jo Boon described the performance and entire operation as “superb,” with credit going to Charlotte Riley and Caitlin Krause, co-directors of Art and Fashion. Act I, the lighter half of the production, featured traditional Scottish dress re-evaluated from Slanj Kilts, the work of This Modern Love Bridal and the first featured designer Rose Appleton. The changes of pace with the background music led to a show that ebbed and flowed with marked precision – every transition presumably planned meticulously by an efficient choreography team.
With the new location and production value, this was Label’s attempted break into the high-fashion world of Don’t Walk and FS Charity Fashion Show – but make no mistake – this show maintained the feel of a family production that sticks true to its roots of body positivity, inclusivity, and model sensitivity. Though the scarcity of taxis for a venue that’s just beyond walking distance proved an issue for many, attendance was reasonable considering the size of the performance, and the Label team should be proud for transforming the hotel into high fashion for a night whilst compromising none of their values in return. While the walks didn’t seem as rigidly drilled as other shows, I wouldn’t say that’s a bad thing. These are real people being showcased, real people’s designs on real people walking in what, for many, is their first show. Credit goes to the models, designers, and strategic team for keeping that humanity and unique element about Label front and centre.
Two incredibly well-rehearsed routines from local K-Pop dance troupe the Saints of Seoul bookended the interval, where guests were invited to roam the grounds and mingle with committee members, models, and designers alike. Act II, that “picks up from this alluring discord with our most challenging and provocative runway yet,” proved even more daring and designed than the first with flapper dresses, lingerie, and swimwear the highlights. Mojo Lingerie, Label’s own clothing line and Holly Jane O’Leary (the second featured designer) took centre stage here, and excelled in the transition from light to dark. Yet this wasn’t daring for daring’s sake – Head of Press Alex Ehrenberg described it as “questioning silhouettes,” and the theme of constantly reimagining norms and concepts of gender, light and dark, and political slogans rings true with both the show’s overarching theme and Label’s core values. A heartfelt thank you from the Label 2018 executive team and choreographer after a year of work took a moment to reflect on the show and to praise the team, followed by a model walk with thunderous applause that rounded off the performance. It was a pleasure to see Label’s last St Andrews show, and all credit goes to the team, models, choreographers, dressers, and background staff.
Label, in this sense, has transcended its humble beginnings into an altogether streamlined fashion show without compromising any of its principles. To transform into this while maintaining integrity, feel, and enjoyment seems itself to be a deconstructed fairytale – almost too good to be true, but I saw it with my own eyes.