Georgia Luckhurst reviews one of the biggest fashion events of the academic calendar. Photos by David Lee.
In my three years at St Andrews I had never been to FS before but the collective excitement of the queue as I waited to get in suggested that maybe I should have. As we wended our way around the quad towards the marquee on Lower College Lawn, one girl screamed: “It’s happening! It’s happening!”
And so it was – months of hard work, tireless behind-the-scenes planning and preparation realised in a marquee packed to the tented ceiling with St Andrews’ most fashion-conscious crop. The dress code is unspoken, but the intention is clear: dress up, but dress subtly, in homage to the understated class of London Fashion Week with which the event would coincide.
The St Andrews Charity Fashion Show – dubbed “FS” for efficiency, but also again for that added quality of swish, speedy insouciance – is the most established of our town’s series of catwalk events. Begun in 1992, the show had decided to look back to its roots with this year’s theme of Origins. In an interview with the Saint published on 15th February 2019, this year’s Creative Director, Hunter Pruitt described the theme’s intention as being about “exploring who we are, where we come from, and where we’re going”. I was hoping to see this realised, and waited eagerly for the show to start – patience aided by the hard slog of the bar staff, who were working tirelessly to quench the crowd’s thirst.
As the lights dropped and the crowd began to scream, the two screens bordering the stage started to count down the course of a minute. And then the screens bled into the painstakingly professional footage heralding the show’s beginning: a trailer that promised a focus on distinctly urban style, shot in the light of subterranean walkways and city streets lit by lamplight.
Then, the models, strutting through the curtains with their characteristically unmoving faces. The initial designs spoke to that third clause of the creative vision: futurism, and where we’re going. The fashion on both the male and female models was a pure, clinical white; the dresses gauzy and cut on geometrical slants.
As the show progressed, its vision seemed to travel backwards, with the male “casual” clothing reminding me of the Britpop cool of bands like Oasis and Blur. The tailoring favoured slouching fits hanging loosely over the body, and as it moved towards dress-wear the jackets stayed large. Much of the prevailing look reminded me of Harry Styles’ recent Gucci collection – bold prints that hinted at a playfulness and a knowing near-androgyny. The female models were dressed according to a similar mood – the slinky, nineties’ slip dresses of Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell’s early campaigns.
Overall, the collections met the theme’s challenge. The show felt like a tribute to FS’ foundational fashion moment, while managing to combine it deftly with the metropolitan boldness of current sartorial tastes. This was all complemented, of course, by the hypnotic rhythms of a techno beat; necessary for the models’ fast-paced choreography, but also for the collective mood – the audience were appreciatively slapping their hands on the sides of the catwalk. It was a show with panache. And I definitely won’t be missing it next year.