Words by Sasha Holt / Pics by Ella Carman
Well hello fashion fabulous, it’s your Stylist in Surburbia back with another dose of sartorial critique.
This Sunday I had a pass for the most hyped style event in the Midlands – Style Birmingham Live ’15. So did it live up to its name? Well my lovelies I’ll walk you through it.
On entering the venue I could hear loud Techno/Pop and what sounded like a cocktail party going on; I was running late so most of the guests were already enjoying their complimentary drink at the bar. No time for me to quench my thirst however, as I was ushered to my seat.
The show guide on my seat was impressively glossy, and had helpfully categorised the different labels that were showing and their key looks – so I was anxious to see how they would deliver on what looked very promising (fashion wise) for the upcoming seasons.
But just before I start on what came before me on the catwalk (that wouldn’t have gone amiss at LFW ) I have to touch on the fashion crowd that nestled around the road to style salvation. It may just be me, but why is mediocrity accepted and clothing constipation the norm these days? I guess avant garde garb is not for everyone, but come on fashion show attendees… get a mirror and use it. However a beautiful blogger called Bella & Robot also arrived late and we were serendipitously sat together.
Anyway back to the designers from our fabulous high street that did put some thought and effort in to show innovative and interesting looks. Although with varying degrees of success – ranging from ‘I would kill for that outfit’ to ‘I would rather wear a bin bag.’ So let’s start with the worst because that’s always the most fun.
A relative newcomer to our Birmingham high street was Liquor Store and their take on ‘American Heritage’, whatever that means. As a very knowledgeable fashion A-lister sat next to me pointed out, “it was hard to tell which was men’s and which was women’s wear”.
It may have just been the styling, but every outfit was fiercely masculine – from the heavy knit to fishermen yellow anoraks and clunky brown boots. I don’t know any woman, unless she was training as a lumberjack, who would wear these outfits in public? Again, it may have just been the styling of the looks, so I’m game to give them a second look, but that’s all you get from this fashion assassin on their range at Style Birmingham Live ’15.
Another label jockeying for the position of ‘who really wears these clothes?’ was Lipsy. The least said about them the better, but just to remark they sent down dress after dress of the cheap lace creations you would expect from a brand that has a certain well known celebrity doing a certain diffusion line for them. Think brash and unsophisticated, always trying too hard, and you have what Lipsy vomited onto the catwalk.
But Top Shop were the biggest disappointment to me, promising so much with a Vintage mix theme but ending up looking like the rejects from a low grade jumble sale.
There were certain key pieces, such as the faux fur gilets that we also saw in hippie looks of Debenhams and New Look, that could have saved them; but all in all it was too much leopard faux fur coat and no knickers for the high street giant. Although this too may have been another case of sack the stylist, so Top Shop win me back please with some great Autumn and Winter pieces in store.
The rest of the labels were all a bit bland nothing to write home about; a bit of metallics by Coast, florals by Jigsaw, and elements of geometric innovation by River Island – all catering pieces that you could mix in with more exciting separates.
Then there was a return to structured tailoring from our two department stores, John Lewis and House of Fraser, weaving in some pastels and neutral tones. Not terribly exciting but pleasant enough.
Red tones also seemed to be a common theme, mixed with luxe fabrics of tweed, lace and satin. These were shown to great effect by Marks & Spencer and the higher end of the high street, including Reiss and Cos – not forgetting covetous arm candy bags from Radley.
But the stand out offerings from the Style Birmingham Live ’15 catwalk, for me, had to be a combination of three. Firstly, Disorders’ cutting edge outerwear. Both male and female outfits were simply superb and embodied everything that fashion should stand for: innovation, inspiration and enjoyment. Using a mix of oriental silks, tartans and pin stripes they lit the catwalk on fire with their designs at this show.
Then we had an outstanding, fantastic suede Christmas tree sent down the catwalk from Mango; as the tassels sashayed from side to side it physically took my breath away. I purchased said coat the next day.
Now last but not least were the sensual lingerie offerings from Marks & Spencer. Satin shorts with balcony bras that seemed to effortlessly form as one with the body rather than as necessary appendages. Again, I was inspired to strut my own stuff in those regal undergarments – so watch out Mr Stylist in Suburbia.
So to sum up my time at Style Birmingham Live ’15, in one word I would have to say underwhelming. It promised so much and had all the right ingredients, but just did not quite make the perfect result.
I believe in the fashion credentials of Birmingham and would love to see more risks taken and more confidence shown. It’s a reflection of how we can be as a city, never standing on our soapboxes to extol our own virtues. Well now is our time; come on Brummies, let’s start a style revolution.
Stay fashionable suburbia and most importantly stay you.
For more on Style Birmingham Live, visit http://stylebirminghamlive.com/
For more on Style Birmingham, http://stylebham.com/