Belfast Telegraph

Why stylish Belfast has real passion for fashion

By Frances Burscough

Forget Paris. Move over Milan. Look lively, London. There’s a new fashion capital emerging and it’s right here, right now.

Yes, Belfast is definitely where it’s happening and last night the West Coast Cooler Fashionweek kicked off the long-awaited seasonal metamorphosis from frosty winter into vibrant spring.

This non-stop schedule of runway shows and style events was launched at the old Northern Bank building in Waring Street and it looked like everyone who's anyone was there to witness it, including Alison Campbell, Lucy Evangelista, Ben Clarke (the annoying one from The Apprentice) and Sarah Travers.

I have seen many shows over the years in the so-called fashion centres of Europe; what makes our version different (if not better) is that it’s about real fashion, which is affordable, obtainable and in our stores now.

There are no lengthy waiting-lists for clothes that are over-priced and completely out of season. What you see on the runway tonight is in the shops tomorrow. Just like that.

The week kicked off in spectacular style with collections from the local retailers Menarys/Tempest, which included popular global brands such as Quiz, Warehouse, Miss Selfridge, Wallis and the Spanish upmarket designer label Desigual.

As you would imagine from such a selection, the styles on show were very diverse but one thing stood out loud and clear: black is definitely out for “twenny-ten” in favour of a kaleidoscope of vibrant colours and candy pastel shades that ought to banish the winter blues for good.

However, a few specific “looks” did stand out last night.

The return of the navy and white nautical theme was very strong and featured in a number of different collections, with a distinct ooh-la-la French twist.

Iridescent silver and dove-grey chiffon floated effortlessly in the form of elegant maxi-dresses with Sixties-style halternecks or softly-draping playsuits; tropical florals caught the attention with a bold injection of pattern and shade while strong block colours like scarlet, coral, peony and cornflower wafted like a breath of fresh air in flowing maxis or tailored minis.

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