Brighton Fashion Week 2012: Up Close


INTRO > Could anything have been as cool as last year’s BFW? Well we found out. This year was the turn of the All Saints Church in Hove to host the incomparable fashion faithful of Brighton & Hove (actually). BFW’s catwalk collections kicked off with Brighton Frocks’ theatrical wonders. Words > Jennie Davies

BRIGHTON FROCKS: 30th May 2012

“A playground for alternative and costume designers challenging the expectations of contemporary fashion and theatre by taking you on an off-the-wall journey through a world of wickedly wild and wonderful collections all showcased on a prestigious platform”

 Celia Arias’ cosmic collection was first across the boards. A psychedelic siren in a fishtail dress (which was heavily decorated with starfish and shells) wiggled her way down the catwalk; with a stilt walking Mongolian puppeteer and Kabuki masked twins in blue and pink dresses soon to follow.  It was certainly a Dance With Dionisio!

Lucky Dame next with her latex collection of uber-40’s pin-up attire. The models were dressed in latex brassiere and knickers decorated with bows, frills and Peter Pan collars. The models wore latex garters with bows on the back, which went well with their victory-roll styled hair.  The latex had a slight translucent look and was dyed in pretty pastels and red detailing. Latex isn’t exactly the most flattering of materials, so I can’t imagine seeing this look on the high street any time soon. However, I do find it an intriguing material and it was nice to see it beautified rather than usual S&M connotations.

Next on the catwalk was Jenna Shahira’s very North African themed collection. The prints reminded me of my time well spent in Morocco. Dyed suede and leather had been worked into beautiful intricate prints and cuffs and pockets had pretty laser cut detailing. The skirts were probably the shortest of the night with peek a boo knickers. All the models were wearing textured headscarves, which added a uniformed look to the collection.

On came the London punks of now! Charles of London decided to bring a very fun collection with lots of neon pink make-up, studded swimsuits, big hair and iconic prints. All in a PVC and Lycra mash! Pieces were blazoned with iconic faces; The Queen, Bowie, Frankenstein and more besides. Quite honestly, I could see myself and quite a few other people in Brighton wearing these. But was this collection too now?

It was refreshing to see beautiful, glorious, curvaceous models strutting down the catwalk forFrantic About Frances’ stunning collection. To a remixed version of Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend, models cavorted liquorice allsorts prints, naughty peepholes, big pussy bow pants and hula-hoops. I have seen Frantic About Francis at vintage fairs before and it was lovely to see the designer’s beautifully made items in a different environment. I absolutely loved this wonderful, fun collection! Jolly well done Jenny Mearns!

Dumpster Design finished the first half of the show. This was our first recycled collection of the night and I was intrigued to see what would come out. Dresses were carefully made with bubble wrap, J-cloths, shredded paper and Waitrose’ Love Life magazine. The structure and the shape of the dresses were fabulous and quite flattering on the models.

Time for an interval and a well earned break. Stepping outside gave me a chance to have a look at what kind of crowd had attended the night and I was surprised to see a mix of very casual fashion fans as well as those who had dressed to impress. That’s one of the things I love best about Brighton Fashion Week. It’s nice to go to a big fashion event with no scent of snobbery. I was in a 60’s colour block dress that was found in a vintage shop in America, combined with my trusty 80s navy blazer.

Bjork blasted out of the stereos signalling the start of the second half. Shara Hayz had put together a collection that was on trend with its pastel Aztec prints and a great mix of denim and Lycra. Bodysuits had bejewelled shoulder pads; Madonna coned breasts, put together with fabulous winged shoes. Golden men carried a woman in a metallic swimsuit wearing a horned motorbike helmet, which was encrusted with jewels. Most of the models had colourful bright hair.

Next, Louise O’Mahoney from Oh My Honey came along with a vintage collection. Louise used bold acid colours, with big skirts and cinched in waists. It was definitely a collection you would feel girly and glamorous wearing and the models certainly strutted on like Mad Men beauties. I loved the big silk bows, the big petticoats and the long colourful gloves.  Beautiful!

Aneta MacKonyte’s theme ‘Rainbow Warriors’ certainly summed up her collection. When it came on to the catwalk it made me think of an urban hill tribe. Attack The Block meets The Land That Time Forgot. Neon was mixed with clashing prints mixed with textures, fringing and woven fabrics, all finished off with creepers. It was a bold and magnificent combination, beautifully crafted and carried off perfectly.

The only millinery collection of the night was from Jenivieve Berlin called ‘Blood, Sweat, & Tears: The Bedroom Collection’. It was neon-tastic; old skool hip-hop and an 80s explosion! Models were dancing down the catwalk with ghetto blasters on their shoulders, sucking on lolly pops. They looked very cool and the outfits and headgear were definitely not for the faint hearted. This was for people who are socially loud and want to be heard. The collection was inspired by the edgy street style of Berlin and had a healthy dash of Japanese pop for extra tang.

London based knitwear designer, Jylle Navarro, presented us with her very out-there collection. The models moved like crazed monsters along to Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse Planet Terror soundtrack. They were covered head to toe in textured knitted leggings, extremely long sleeved tops and balaclavas with googly eyes. One particular model looked like a woolly spaghetti monster. It was another fun collection and I loved the use textures and colours that had all been woven together.

The final collection of the night was from Walter Raes. As ever, the last strut of the night was the icing on the proverbial cake. This recycled collection was very clever. Anything from old gloves, converse trainers, bike helmets, baseball caps, baby dummys, electrician ties and bras were some how manipulated and melded together to make very functional and beautiful items of clothing. This was very well thought out collection, and really raised the question of; why should an object be only used for one purpose?

It was a good end to a great evening and left us feeling quite inspired. Brighton Frocks was as ever only a taster of things to come and it left me wanting to know what I was going to be delighted/surprised/fall-in-love with the next night at the Zeitgeist Show.


“Innovative and contemporary designs that infuse stylish sophistication, elegant lines, immaculate tailoring and luxurious fabrics with pioneering style aesthetics”.  

On arriving back at All Saints Church, we immediately noticed how much busier it was than the previous night. Women were wearing beautiful long evening dresses (instantly making me regret choosing my trusty LBD) and everyone had made the effort for the second and most anticipated night at this years BFW.

Before the show properly started, Pippa Longhorne a contestant on Britain’s Got Talent treated us to a performance. She was wearing a beautiful open back evening dress and her operatic voice echoed around the church giving an elegant and classy air to the evening.
Straight on to the catwalk was Karin Wuthrich with a monochrome tailored collection. It was made extremely clean lined with the exaggerated pleats and high necks. Simply sleek and elegant.

Next was an accessory designer called Taeseok Kang. Models dressed in white full-length bodysuits so that you weren’t distracted from the black leather handbags being displayed. The designer also collaborated with Jewellery designer Octavia Yang. The jewellery was inspired by Asian joinery found in timber architecture and furniture. You could definitely see this in the futuristic designs.

I absolutely loved the next collection from Isolated Heroes! I used to study textiles, so colourful prints and fabric get me tingling. This was certainly the most colourful collection of the evening, which makes it very hard to forget. Acid African prints with neon beehives added a lot of attitude, completing the Goth and Cyber Barbie theme.

Showcasing his autumn collection next was Japanese designer, Masato. I fell in love with Masato at last year’s BFW so was very excited to see what he had created since then. He had gone for a black and bronze theme, which was quite contrasting from the colourful collection last year. It was much more grown up and matured with a lot of influence from his native Japan.

Next was a boxing inspired collection by Paula Alicia Studeli. It featured lots of fisherman style pants, long fingerless gloves, hoods and layers of black jersey, leather and suede.

 Joe Goode was the last collection before the interval and it was a dark and masculine one. The collection was entitled ‘Symbolic Skin Deep’ inspired by his studies on African body art and modification. The male models wore mini capes and hooded scarfs made from a variety of knits and jersey matched with very long sleeves and harem style pants. The womenswear had a bit more sparkle. I particularly liked the fringed gaga pants.

After a quick interval MDK came on with her outerwear collection of hooded raincoats and fine knit bodysuits.

Soyeon Park displayed an elegant pastel collection inspired by Marie Antoinette. It certainly had a French feel with the combination of silk and lace used. I also loved the one-sided fur stoles.

We were then treated to a peek of Lesley de Freitas SS13 collection. It had an amazing response from the audience and the organiser of BFW, Liz Bishop, was even wearing one of the dresses being showcased. They were beautifully cut and they draped on the body in a very feminine way. The colours chosen were very vibrant; oranges and pinks, whites and yellows. I can’t wait to get my hands on one of these items.

Next, we entered the sci-fi world of Kay Kwok. This designer graduated from London College of Fashion in 2012 and had put together a Menswear collection – out of this world. The digital printing used was amazing with eye-popping colours. I’m not too sure about the Darth Vader safari hats though.

K&K London designed a collection around their muse, Florence French. They also collaborated with Brighton based company, Union Jewellery, which really complimented their items.

And last but not least, we came to the finale of the night, Jess Eaton. I was hooked on Jess when I saw her debut of Roadkill Couture at last years BFW and was thrilled to interview her for issue two of Pretty Litter last year. The thought and the devotion that goesinto her work is phenomenal. If you don’t know already, Jess takes recycling to new limits and creates beautiful pieces using what she can from animals that have died of natural causes. This year’s collection was split into four themes: 50s, Urban, Gothic and Fairytale. The fairytale theme was breathtaking. If you would like to get your hands on one of Jess’ beautiful creations head down to her shop, EatonNott, in Brighton. And you can read our exclusive Pretty Litter interview with her by getting your hands on a copy of the magazine – available here.

I’m very proud of Brighton Fashion Week, it is great to have some thing like this in our city. Every year they seem to get more organised and bigger and better. Bring on BFW 2013!

For the full set of photos from this year’s shows head here:


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