Belfast Fashionweek: Touchy-feely fabrics and a kaleidoscope of colour
Frances Burscough gives the lowdown as our best homegrown designers showcase their latest trends.
Who needs London, Paris and Milan - we have our own fashion capital right here on our doorstep.
Yes, Belfast is definitely where it's at and last night proved it as the West Coast Cooler Fashionweek kicked off the seasonal metamorphosis from long, cold winter into vivid spring.
Celebrating its 21st season, the Fashionweek runways erupted with a kaleidescope of colour, some clashing, others contrasting, but all looking totally refreshing in an array of touchy-feely fabrics for the new season.
Returning to the catwalk on opening night were the latest collections from locally-based designers and designer boutiques including Blush Boutique and Jourdan from Belfast, as well as Diamond Dolls (Banbridge) and Spoilt Belle Boutique (Magherafelt). Fashionweek favourites Grainne Maher and Nor Lisa showed colourful collections plus newcomers this season - Sarah Alexandra Boutique in Newtownards and Lotus Boutique, Holywood - also wowed audiences with chic styles.
Fashionweek director Cathy Martin said: "The designer and designer boutique show is without doubt a favourite of mine on the Fashionweek schedule. Each season I look forward to seeing what is in-store from our homegrown talent and watching designers develop from graduates to established labels and stores growing from small outlets to online sites with global sales."
Aileen Wilson, owner of Blush Boutique on the Lisburn Road, said: "We have been participating in Fashionweek since the very first season, so it's a privilege to help bring in the 21st season with our stunning spring/summer 16 collections. Our Kevan Jon range has been a particular hit with audiences." One of the latest additions to the schedule was the beautiful high-end collection from Holywood's chic boutique, Lotus.
Proprietor Tamara Duncan said: "I have been a huge supporter of Belfast Fashionweek for several years now, and have rarely missed an event, so when I decided to open my boutique I knew Fashionweek was the perfect platform to launch from. Our collection includes ranges from world-recognised designers such as Amanda Wakeley, Alexander Wang and Badgeley Mischko amongst many others."
Fashionweek continues today with the massively popular High Street Heaven catwalk show. Attendees will see the hottest looks from the nation's biggest and busiest stores including Next, DV8, Alana Interiors, Boux Avenue, Cari's Closet, Diamond Dolls, KACI Cookstown, Remus Uomo and Warehouse as well as Dorothy Perkins, New Look, Designers at Debenhams and Miss Selfridge from CastleCourt.
Saturday welcomes the Fashion Re-Sale Market at Life Church, plus Sushi Saturday at Zen followed by the Fashion & Retail Awards, the Fifty over Fifty show and the West Coast Cooler CoverGirl catwalk. The schedule will close on Sunday with Style Sunday at Deanes at Queens, which supports Action Cancer's breast cancer awareness campaign.
For tickets or further information log onto www.belfastfashionweek.com or www.facebook.com/belfastfw