Review: DONT WALK 2018
By: Emma Corcoran
Member of the 2018 DONT WALK Charity Fashion Show Creative Team Cordelia Diamond defines the creative concept of this year's show as the following:
"This year we decided not to announce a creative concept before the show in order to allow our content and our event to bring people to their own realisations about our message. Space is a boundless theme, which we thought reflected the current state of the world in so many ways. We recalled episodes in human history like the space race, during which fascination and obsession with everything outwith Earth distracted us from the very real issues which existed on the ground. During these turbulent times it is similarly tempting to imagine that we can flee our troubles and look to the stars for a brighter future. However the ultimate truth is that there is no escape from today's reality, and we must return to Earth and face the complicated society we have created. Space is an illusion, a silent and fleeting fantasy which has no end and therefore no resolution— and in moments when this truly dawns upon us, space becomes more terrifying than any Earth-bound menace."
So, did the 2018 DONT WALK show live up to the hype? And was it successful in translating the theme of "Space" through its collaborative artistic components? Read our comprehensive review to find out.
Giving a nod to the past, DONT WALK 2018 again opened with AWAYTOMARS, an online crowdfunded clothing community and creative collective based in London and Lisbon. DONT WALK showcased their latest collection “718” that paid tribute to some of the biggest emerging trends of the A/W season displayed at this year’s New York Fashion Week: saturated hues, silk organza, eclectic mixes of prints and statement pantsuits, to name a few. There couldn’t have been a more appropriate way to kick off the show, especially considering the title of the brand: AWAYTOMARS fit seamlessly into the surrounding décor, most notably the images of planets projected onto the tent’s walls and the shiny silver prisms decorating the front of the stage that captured the show’s otherworldly/supernatural vibe. Oh, and don’t let me forget the oversized astronaut helmets worn by the DONT WALK DJs and circulating the audience. Prepare for take-off, people: it’s going to be an epic ride.
Move over millennial pink and make way for its brighter, bolder older sister: the hot pink of our Barbie dreams is here, and we are going gaga. 2018 is the year for risk-taking, especially in fashion, so what better way to be daring than by embracing this show-stopping hue? From Tom Ford’s strong-shouldered blazers and Alexander Wang’s long-sleeved playsuits to Tory Burch’s matching top-and-bottom sets and Oscar De La Renta’s Grace Kelly-esque tulle gowns (*swoons*), it’s safe to say that the sexy shade has dominated this season’s catwalks. AWAYTOMARS is no stranger to the trend: the DONT WALK runway featured the asymmetric crepe layered top with matching slim-leg trousers for women and the monochromatic suit for men (please oh please can there be a women’s version?) from their latest collection, all decked out head to toe in that perfect pop of pink.
He & DeFeber, a modern-classic menswear brand, hit the runway next. Full-length wool coats and double-breasted jackets in earthy tones celebrated traditional British tailoring, but the wide-leg trousers, asymmetrical lapels and bursts of all-over navy kept the collection contemporary. A special standout was the innovative spin on a swallowtail jacket: its long and loose-fitting back flaps swept side-to-side as the model walked down the runway, and extensions like inverted, upside-down lapels at its hem were a clever detail. The piece was a brilliant addition to the show, as it encapsulated the essence of DONT WALK: a fun yet fearless challenge to conventional conceptions of fashion.
Founded in Dubai, unisex label Talar Nina featured every uni student’s wardrobe essential: the tracksuit. True, it’s not a look typically associated with “high-end” fashion (sorry to burst your bubble, Juicy Couture). And yet, through the addition of metallic floral embroidery with crystals and other embellishments either on the sleeves or on the front of the bomber zip-up, Talar Nina reinterpreted the classic streetwear style… and elevated its status from loungewear to luxury item. Clothing that’s comfortable and laid-back yet acceptable to grab on the go to class – or dare I say it – wear on a night out?! Thank you, Talar Nina, for answering our prayers (and for reminding me of my online shopping addiction).
As we’ve seen from the likes of the Hadid’s and the Kardashian’s, A-list celebs everywhere have changed the way we think about comfy clothes by keeping it casual in slouchy sweats and oversized jumpers, yet somehow making it look chic (I’ve yet to master this “roll out of bed but make it fashion” look, but you can bet that I’ll keep trying). Merc clearly picked up on the trend showing graphic ringer tees and black hoodies with matching jersey jogging bottoms. A groutfit is my usual go-to (anyone who has ever had a 9am with me will attest to this), but Merc sold me on its fire engine-red take on the classic getup: the electric colour turned the tracksuit up a notch or three, putting a striking spin on everyone’s favourite athleisure staple.
Indeed, the colour theme was prominent throughout the entirety of the first half: accents on t-shirts and tops, not to mention the short-sleeved, v-neckline maxi dress by designer Byvarga whose tassels, layered skirt and side slit merged beachy-boho and glamour. What’s more, the hue had a starring role in the show itself: red lighting illuminated the stage and bled into the surrounding audience areas, transforming the runway into an immersive sensory experience. So, the major takeaway: think brighter and bolder by embracing a punchy splash of primary colour.
Concluding the first half of the show were New York designer Anna Sui followed by Scotland's own Harris Tweed Hebrides. Channelling 1970s fashion, Anna Sui's design aesthetic was unmistakable: stocking her collection with vintage-inspired pieces, her clothing saw a focus on rich earthy tones, meticulous detail and long, linear silhouettes that screamed luxury, and she finished off each look with a liberal serving of accessories. Yet, the most identifiable motif permeating her collection was the amalgamation of different colours, textures and textiles, evoking a kind of retro-themed treasure chest. A particular highlight was the floor-length coat that featured an all-over trim made of blue hair and panel of multicoloured embroidery covering the entirety of the back (think peacock chic).
Harris Tweed Hebrides's array of tailoured trouser suits for men and co-ords for women took inspiration from a traditional workwear wardrobe, yet the label put its own signature stamp on the collection by making each garment from its famous 100% wool fabric. My favourite ensemble was the long and slightly puff-sleeved crop top with matching high-waisted skirt. The top's front panel dipped in towards the centre, like a reverse high-low, and the double-breasted buttons were a clever play on a classic suit: smart and stylish, but with a rebellious twist.
Both Anna Sui and Harris Tweed Hebrides are well-known names in the fashion industry. According to her website, Anna Sui currently "has over 50 boutiques in eight countries" while "her collection and products are sold in 300 stores in over 30 countries" (she's also apparently friends with Naomi Campbell AND Linda Evangelista who walked in her premier runway show back in 1991) (jealous). Equally impressive, award-winning cloth manufacturer Harris Tweed Hebrides not only exports its fabrics to over 60 countries, but has also partnered with the world's best designers, fashion houses and luxury brands: Vivienne Westwood, Chanel, Comme des Garçons, Yves Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen, to name a few. While it is a tremendous feat for university students to acquire such accomplished sponsors, it is primarily one that serves to capture the ethos of DONT WALK: to celebrate both established designers/labels and emerging talent on a global scale.
When the second half of the show commenced, the audience knew what to expect: skin, and lots of it. UK-based online lingerie brand Figleaves devoted its collection to all-things intimate: lace bras and thong sets with matching suspenders and leg harnesses came out in full force. BLEAU Swimwear by Rod Beattie showcased monochrome nude bikinis, plunge 80s-inspired one-pieces and still others with corset ties up the front or cheeky cut-outs. In light of the recent weather (blizzard) we’ve been having lately (seriously Scotland, what is this tundra), it goes without saying that we all yearn to dawn our suits, too, and prance in the sun, soaking up that glorious sunshine. Thank you, DONT WALK, for transporting us to that tropical paradise, even for a short amount of time (and excuse me as I turn on my space heater in an attempt to thaw my body).
Later on, London-based brand Oliver Jane's colourful collection of patterned men’s swim trunks saw no shortage of playfulness. In the spirit of DONT WALK, the models bobbed and swayed as friends in the audience passed over plenty of fizz. Unlike in the first half, the synthesised, hypnotic beats and throbbing bass that characterised the music were swapped for catchy, well-known pop anthems, to which models and audience members alike boogied right along (myself included). Throwback hits including Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights” (2007), Dizzee Rascal and Calvin Harris’s “Dance Wiv Me” (2009) and Rizzle Kicks’s “Down With the Trumpets” (2011) were especially obvious crowd-pleasers. Well done, Marcell Kovács and Ahmed Shareefy, for a stellar performance.
Changes made to the fashion choices and music styles over the course of the show conveyed to the audience the transition between its first and second halves, specifically their distinctive emotional tones: from dark to light, from hard to soft, the show morphed from what I can only describe as an eerie episode of Stranger Things to a brightly-coloured, no-clothing-required dance party celebrating artistic innovation and talent.
One of the last designers to rock the runway was House of Dz; founded by Sammie Dz Olawuyi, the South London-based urban/contemporary fashion house integrates London street culture and Nigerian luxury inspired by traditional Benin art. His unisex collection "Area Boys" donned the models in all-white ensembles: on top, mesh vests or t-shirts of various lengths peeked out from underneath oversized windbreakers, baseball jerseys or gold-studded gillets, all made from linen; and on bottom, drawstring "scuba" shorts or distressed jeans completed the looks. Written across the front of each top was a different Nigerian proverb in graphic-style print, such as "A Clear Conscience Fears No Accusations" and "No Matter How Rich You Are In Clothing You Can Not Acquire The Old Rags Of An Old Man Experience Acquired With Age Can Not Be Bought With Money". Chunky, blood orange necklaces and complementary bracelets punctuated the monochrome palette with a burst of brilliant colour, creating that perfect combo between high fashion and streetswear, edgy comfort and wearable conceptual art.
The show concluded with a look designed exclusively by the DONT WALK Creative Team: a metallic one-piece paired with a sheer skirt and matching cape whose impressive train washed the runway in a sea of white. The look was accessorised with long white gloves and a headpiece adorned with tall points. The message was clear: the Goddess of the Cosmic Universe had made her entrance. Sauntering down the runway and pausing upon arriving at its end, the model allowed her two attendants to remove the garment’s detachable cape. Catching the air, the billowing fabric took flight and carried itself away before a captivated crowd.
That pivotal moment of high drama seemed to stand as the culmination of the 2018 DONT WALK show’s theme: “Escape” from restrictions, both physical and metaphorical. In truth, DONT WALK’s entire existence in and of itself embodies this theme: as a charity fashion show, it offers students a platform promoting the freedom of artistic creativity and exploration of individual self-expression; and as an organisation, it constantly aspires to push beyond the boundaries limiting what defines art and what defines ourselves, to challenge those expectations and ultimately dissolve them.
Tremendously well-executed and a thrill to attend, DONT WALK 2018 set a new standard of excellence for fashion shows here in our tiny yet fearsome Fife community. It’s astounding coming to terms with the fact that the show was the result of year-long efforts made entirely by students. But then again, when it comes to DONT WALK, well, nothing can ever be expected. Special shout-out to Sam Halterman: massive congratulations, and hope you can finally sleep easy.
All images courtesy of DONT WALK 2018.