The Edinburgh Charity Fashion Show is the largest student fashion show in Europe. The show is well deserved of its acclaimed reputation: the 2014 extravaganza was featured on the online pages of upmarket lifestyle magazine Tatler, took place in the stunning National Museum of Scotland and raised £20,000 for Water Aid.
This year’s show took place on 14 March 2015 in the gorgeous Usher Hall, a striking, Category A listed concert hall in the heart of the Scottish capital. ECFS 2015 supported two very different, but equally worthy charities: the Elephant Family, which aims to protect the endangered Asian elephant, and the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH), which aims to promote better understanding of mental health. The raison d’être of the show’s 2015 campaign was to “Free the Elephant in the Room.”
A quick perusal on the ECFS website (www.edinburghcharityfashionshow.org) is all it takes to realise this show means business. This is a stylish, artfully constructed website, featuring an entertaining and thought-provoking blog, high-definition photographs from past events, custom illustrations and chic black-and-while headshots of and information about the seventy-strong production team.
The professionalism and dedication of the ECFS 2015 team was reflected in the yearlong charity campaign. The website’s blog was a highlight, effectively exposing the anxieties and issues experienced by students in order to remove the stigma surrounding mental illness. Meanwhile the ECFS Facebook page featured the ‘Elephants of Edinburgh’ photography project: Edinburgh residents were photographed around the city wearing a custom-made elephant head, emphasizing the universality of our issues and anxieties. The ‘Elephants’ were photographed holding up white boards expressing their thoughts on topics ranging from ‘how can we reduce the stigma surrounding mental health?’ to their own hopes and fears.
The Edinburgh Charity Fashion Show also has a long-standing collaboration with Location Scotland. This allowed the team to conduct atmospheric photo-shoots in some of Scotland’s most impressive and beautiful locations, including the historical, rural Glen Estate and Edinburgh’s iconic Calton Hill.
The dynamic chairwomen Louisa Dearlove and Georgie FuTong told Culturefly that the aim of the campaign was to “channel the positive powers of fashion and art so as to encourage young people and students alike to reject societal expectations of who they should be, and to instead be audacious and limitless.”
Audacious and limitless are adjectives that could just as well describe the show itself. The team’s hard work culminated on the night of Saturday 14 March 2015, as Edinburgh’s most glamorous residents gathered in the foyer of Usher Hall, dressed to the nines and sipping champagne, ready for the featured spectacle, as photographers from No. 1 Magazine and Tatler photographed the guests.
Inside the auditorium, giant elephants formed the backdrop to the stage, whilst gorgeous pink lighting highlighted a catwalk that reached out amongst the throngs of tables in the auditorium. The show opened with Dearlove and FuTong taking to the stage, welcoming the audience and showing a video charting the 2015 campaign, before a stunning drumming solo marked the beginning of the evening’s festivities. This was a unique and exciting opening number and provided a memorable entrance for the models, who proceeded to enter clad in the designs of the award-winning Simone Rocha. The evening had begun.
Over the course of the show thirty models hit the catwalk, showcasing designs from L.K Bennett, Ghost, Kestin Hare, as well as several notable Edinburgh designers and stores, including Those Were the Days and Armstrongs, two renowned Edinburgh vintage shops. Another highlight was pop-up shop Rail, which was launched this January by three Edinburgh-based students with an aim “to curate a space where fashion and art collide and feed of one another.”
All the clothes showcased were truly stunning, ranging from gorgeous chiffon ball gowns to patterned trendy separates to designer swimwear. The models deserve inordinate praise for their professionalism and sense of fun. Their enthusiasm was infectious and made for an enjoyable and exciting evening. In the second half music was provided by talented saxophonist Trav Panesar, whom the models interacted with seamlessly. Finally the evening culminated with the committee taking to the stage to celebrate alongside the models under a cloud of raining confetti.
ECFS 2015 was undoubtedly a great success, raising awareness of mental illness, helping to save the elephant and providing a wonderful evening. The show also conducted an interval raffle that offered coveted prizes including a Mulberry handbag, a VIP tour of Vogue House and cycling shirt signed by Olympian Chris Hoy. There was also an in-house auction, where items such as holidays to Jamaica and a gorgeous diamond ring went for over £2000. At the time of press, the ECFS team had yet to announce their final total raised, but we can assume they would have equaled, if not topped, last year’s sum of £20,000.
You can follow ECFS on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in order to keep up to date. The evening was a highlight of the Edinburgh cultural calendar so far and proved the stunning Scottish capital has a unique and coveted style of its own.