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West Coast Cooler FASHIONWEEK

Thursday, February 04, 2016

It’s that time of year again. Get your best dress out and heels at the ready, it’s almost time for West Coast Cooler FASHIONWEEK!

I’ve attended Belfast FASHIONWEEK annually for the past few years and each year is as exciting as the next. Each attendee is dressed to impress and the variety of colour and patterns is a refreshing sight to see.

On January 21st, Belfast FASHIONWEEK launched the line-up for its twenty-first season. This milestone will be celebrated with a ‘coming of age’ theme and will feature a new addition of a ‘Fifty over Fifty’ show for fashionistas in their fifties and beyond, meaning you have no excuse not to invite your mother/grandmother to this event! There will also be a re-introduction of the Fashion & Retail Awards, (always a favourite!), which will celebrate the history of the event, as well as looking to the future of fashion.




The concept of FASHIONWEEK is to showcase a number of collections from the high street, as well as from independently owned boutiques – meaning both you and I can afford these dazzling outfits! Local designers’ work will also be showcased during the four days, from 10-13 March, and you never know, you could be supporting the next Alexander McQueen! Also, did I mention Sushi Saturday (yes, food!) and Style Sunday? The perfect way to round off the long weekend of fashion.

FASHIONWEEK Director Cathy Martin said: “I’m sure everyone will agree that there is some incredible creative talent here in Northern Ireland and it’s time to acknowledge and celebrate what we have on our doorsteps. I watched with pride as former FASHIONWEEK participant and Magherafelt man J.W. Anderson spectacularly and deservedly won both Female and Male Designer of the Year at last year’s British Council Fashion Awards, and it’s only right that we give local designers and retailers recognition for their work too.”
'FASHIONWEEK' Director Cathy Martin
Most of you who know me will know a local favourite of mine is ‘Spoilt Belle Boutique’ in Magherafelt, and I am so excited to learn they are returning to FASHIONWEEK. I cannot enter this boutique without splurging out on the cutest designer handbag or new evening gown (which I usually wear to strut around my home in!), so I can only imagine the other boutiques in the line-up will be as equally as exciting! On Thursday 10th March, we will be able to see the latest collections from local designers and independent boutiques. Confirmed to return are ‘Blush and Jourdan’ from Belfast, ‘Diamond Dolls’ from Banbridge and, as I previously mentioned, ‘Spoilt Belle Boutique’ from Magherafelt. You will also get the chance to view collections from designers Grainne Maher and Nor Lisa, among others. FASHIONWEEK new-comers this season include Sarah Alexander Boutique in Newtownards and Lotus Boutique, which is due to open in Holywood in March stocking high-end designer collections for hire.



Preparing for her first season, proprietor of Sarah Alexandra Boutique, Sarah Holman said: “I'm so excited to be part of a fantastic line-up of designers and boutiques for what promises to be a successful event.  It is a fantastic opportunity for me to show Belfast’s top style enthusiasts the fantastic brands we have in store, including Lavish Alice, Freddy Jeans and Genese among many others.”

If you fancy yourself as a ‘High Street Queen,’ then this night is perfect for you. On Saturday March 11th, ‘High Street Heaven’ will take to the stage, bringing the latest looks from the nation’s busiest and biggest stores including Remus Uomo, DV8, Next, Warehouse, Diamond Dolls high street range, as well as New Look, Dorothy Perkins, Designers at Debenhams and Miss Selfridge from CastleCourt, and brands like Joules (my personal favourite), Tommy Hillfiger and Guess from Alana Lifestyle in Lurgan.

Chantelle Craig from high street retailer Next said: “We are delighted to be back at Belfast FASHIONWEEK for another season and can’t wait to showcase our latest collections which are inspired by spring floral prints and feminine frills in sumptuous fabrics for that truly feminine customer.  We’re not forgetting our every-day girl however, and fashion minimalists will also see us offer a wide range of pale casual knits and cottons and we hit the top season trend with double denims galore available in store.”

Speaking on menswear trends, Remus Uomo’s Marketing Manager Martin Byrne said:  “As men become more confident in their style choices, the move is away from plain, solid colours and toward pattern, interesting fabric structure and varied textures for the coming season.”


FASHIONWEEK director Cathy Martin spoke also on womenswear trends, adding: “Trends are sticking around and evolving over a few seasons now, it’s not like something is hot and trendy for just a few months and then it disappears again, so right now we’re seeing a return to colour popping and blocking from 2015, but contrasting fabrics as well as colours are used to create a bold and bashful look.  For those a little more fashion shy, pale pastels are perfect, and this season they’re mixed with off-shoulder silhouettes plus lots of romantic ruffles and frills for a feminine feel.  Florals abound again – they’ve been around for about four seasons now in various guises, but this time they’re also embracing frills and ruffles too. It’s quite a romantic and feminine season all in all. To counter this, there is a massive ‘death by denim’ trend, with all-denim-everything ensembles across most designer and high street collections.”

And what is an excellent show without extravagant, fun and flirty make-up? As a self-proclaimed obsessive make-up lover, the make-up can make or break a ‘look.’ Thankfully, FASHIONWEEK has only the best director/designer. Oonagh Boman talked of her excitement of returning as the official make up partner saying “We can’t wait for everyone to see the catwalk make up looks we have in store for the season ahead, which will be created using Senna Cosmetics and Domina Skincare to achieve flawless complexions that match the stunning Spring fashion.”

Fashionistas in their fifties and stylistas in their sixties and seventies have the opportunity to wallow in the ‘Fifty Over Fifty’ fashion show on Saturday March 12th as part of the Fashion & Retail Awards, the theme of which is ‘coming of age’. Siobhan Casey, Director of Marketing at AgeNI commented, “Age NI is delighted to be associated with Belfast Fashion Week’s new ‘Fifty Over Fifty’ showcase to highlight how fashion, style, image and body confidence are important at any age – we all want to look good and feel great.  Being part of Belfast Fashion Week’s Coming of Age themed event this season demonstrates how the fashion industry is positively reflecting our ageing population and shows that older people are valuable and visible, in fashion as in life.  We’re looking forward to seeing Age NI volunteers and ambassadors on the catwalk, showcasing the best SS16 looks for men and women in later life and we’d love to see fashion-forward Age NI supporters of all ages at the show too!’



If you find yourself day-dreaming about walking the runway, or if you lust over Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner, then you may want to keep reading. Returning for its third time in association with West Coast Cooler is the COVERGIRL competition.  FASHIONWEEK will once again seek to find ten models – and one ultimate COVERGIRL – who will walk away with a host of amazing prizes including £1000 worth of fashion from Victoria Square, plus return flights from airline partner Aer Lingus and make up and hair by the event’s official partners Oonagh Boman and Jason Shankey Hair.  The Top Ten COVERGIRLs will take to the Victoria Square catwalk at the Fashion Awards on Saturday 12 March when the top three finalists, who’ll be jetting off for a sunny destination photoshoot, courtesy of airline sponsor Aer Lingus and West Coast Cooler FASHIONWEEK, will be announced. Honestly, I’m already jealous of the contestants, because jetting off to a sunny destination sounds about perfect right now! Thumbs down for this windy, wet Irish weather!

If you are unable to make the evening catwalk shows, fear not! The scrummy, and always an excellent day, Sushi Saturday will return at the trendy Zen. You will enjoy a welcome West Coast Cooler cocktail and an Asian inspired afternoon tea (because who doesn’t love afternoon tea?!). Did I mention the ‘Director’s Cut’ fashion event will showcase 36 of the best looks from across all shows at Belfast FASHIONWEEK – so really, it’s like a ‘best bits’ from the week rolled into one day! Oh, and you can experience all of this for the bargain price of £30 per person!

FASHIONWEEK will close in a lavish and luxury style with the flagship ‘Style Sunday’ luncheon at Deane’s at Queen’s on March 20th. It is sure to be a glamorous day out - a four course gourmet lunch (which is run in association with Action Cancer), will accompany trend forecasts and a mini fashion show and a mini masterclass from FASHIONWEEK’s hair, style and make-up partners. Guests will be spoilt as they enjoy a delicious meal from the chefs at Deane’s at Queen’s and will luxuriate in designer fashion from ‘Candy Plum’ boutique in Hillsborough. The charity lunch costs £45.00 per person and places can be booked directly through the restaurant on 028 9038 2111.

West Coast Cooler brand manager Laura Blair said: “We are delighted to continue our sponsorship of FASHIONWEEK as it officially comes of age, and there’s no better time to raise a glass of chilled West Coast Cooler in celebrating our perfect partnership.”



Throughout the week, breast cancer charity Pretty‘n’Pink will collect funds at all shows to support women after undergoing debilitating breast cancer surgery or treatment. Action Cancer is the official charity partner for Style Sunday and funds raised with go towards their breast screening for women aged 40-49 and 70+.

This is without a doubt a week not to be missed! It promises style, sass and sophistication. Book a ticket for yourself, for your friend or perhaps treat a member of the family. Personally, I am as excited as ever for this year’s event, and I am loving the ‘coming-of-age’ theme – I’m already planning outfits in my head!

Make sure you keep an eye out for all the latest details regarding Belfast FASHIONWEEK and I really hope to see you there! Leave a comment below to let me know if you’ll be attending.

The full show schedule is available online at www.belfastfashionweek.com along with details of this season’s trends plus links to all participant retailers and sponsors.  Catwalk tickets, which cost £20 (or £30 for a limited number of exclusive front row seats), are available from the Belfast Welcome Centre on 028 9024 6609 or via the website. Ticket price includes a fabulous goodie bag and a refreshing West Coast Cooler. 
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