A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to the Ruff Fashion Show, part of the Much Ado About Portsmouth celebration of Shakespeare's life. It was a spectacular organised by the very brave and ambitious Leonora Asomanin in association with the University of Portsmouth.
Firstly, huge photo credit to Sarah Benstead who takes really amazing photographs in the worst of lighting conditions. ALL my photos came out blurry and ridiculous so the majority are taken with permission from Sarah. She was an absolute delight, putting the models and designers at ease before the show.
The theme of the show was to fuse Shakespearean era fashions with the modern - some designers took this to a really modern stance and created items I'd or my partner would wear, whereas others created pieces fit for the stage in a Shakespeare play.
The show was best captured by this video created by the talented Ceejay Foster-Walters
The show featured 5 designers, with three prizes up for grabs:
Aisha Ally from Shantonio (first place)
Briefly describe the look you went for: the look I went for are these Classy, sophisticated, luxury and fashionista/trend setter.The inspiration of the collection was the love of Shakespearean work, the creativity of play on words, the elegancy and beauty that can transform words to imagery. Being a designer you have to do just that. Have to the imagination to create beautiful dresses with elegance, classy and women can look sexy without needing to expose too much. I had to make sure that I still kept the theme of Shakespearean as well as keeping the image of what Shantonio is all about.
What was your favourite part of the show? I loved the whole show, it was great seeing other designers work the different of texture of certain fabrics, helping each other. I guess I never see these competitions as competitions at all. I see talented people getting together to showcasing their work we are all friends and we make new ones. every designer has a style which is unique to another. To me that's the best part.
Tell us something about yourself or your brand: hhhhmmmm.... about myself hhahahaha! not very exciting but just a bit of background! Ex-Student of University of Portsmouth, studied Biology, single parent of my 6 year old son Shantonio. And lucky enough to posses 3 cultures West, Middle East and African. I have travel a lot in my younger years and I can truly say this job still gives me that opportunity, love meeting new people that are like minded with the love of fashion.
Shantonio is a brand that is dedicated to elegance and attention to details. Shantonio give their clients an opportunity to customise our ready to wear clothes – without having to go to the expense of a fully bespoke garment. Shantonio offers a range of evening, special occasion and office attire. For that special occasion or special day we can provide you with a unique outfit that will have elegance and give you that "star of the day" sparkle. Shantonio is not your average high street store – we are able to Focus on Quality not Quantity.
The CEO and Founder of Shantonio is working to develop a Fashion based school, in East Africa specifically Zanzibar which will be a registered charity. The school will focus on young women that have left school but who cannot afford further education. The school will aim to give a basic trade to girls and ensure they have a good grasp of basic Maths and English; increasing their self esteem and self worth as women. We will give them an oversight of all aspects of the fashion industry with an opportunity for some to travel and work abroad>All the fashion shows that Shantonio showcases are to promote the brand and it's ethic of helping others (specifically by raising funds for the school). For every Shantonio product sold, a percentage will be guaranteed to go towards the school in Zanzibar. It is hoped that once this school is well established the concept can be expanded to other countries In the UK Shantonio will focus on students that are in their last year at University to do their internships at the Shantonio workshop based in Portsmouth, giving them the chance to showcase their own collections as well as Shantonio at events that are organised during fashion weeks.
Abigail Young of NATiVE.MiEN
I'm Abigail Poppy Young, 23 and living in Portsmouth. Born out of the city, I went to a pretty regular school and finished with pretty average grades. What I took away from school is the realization that there are issues within social structures. In year 9 I broke away from "the popular friend group" and started to mingle with any and everyone. In the end I would walk around school and everyone I passed would say hello. From this point, by making all of these friends I managed to integrate all friend groups in our year together. One day I remember sitting on the school field with a few friends while more and more people came to sit with us. Eventually I noticed that the entire year were sat together, talking, playing and listening to music. I looked around with a subtle satisfaction that I had helped for this to happen. It was an empowering and joyful moment for me.
I am a huge people person and I would consider myself a fairly confident woman but despite this I can still find myself shy in certain situations, like formal ones; I find wearing a suit is like wearing a mask!
In life there are hierarchies, class, judgement, success, wealth, pressures in life that make you concentrate or worry about the wrong things, and act a certain way that is not of yourself. These pressures lead people to conform, hiding away their true colours for the fear of not "fitting in". Ultimately, society is teaching people not to love themselves but love status.The love that I have for clothing that had lead me to NATiVE.MiEN. ...
Anca Iancu from ANKA
Briefly describe the look you went for:
My collection is a mix of Elizabethan and modern fashion. I put together the Elizabethan elements (ruffles, gathers, high collar, crinoline or embroidery) and modern ones (short dresses, fitting silhouettes or evening gowns) in order to create four looks based on the idea of mixture between history and modernity.
What was your favourite part of the show?:
What I liked the most was the atmosphere during the presentation. The four looks matched the models perfectly, they looked gorgeous. The music completed the atmosphere with a combination between modern and classical music. It was easy to see that the public loved the show and we managed to create a historical atmosphere with a modern twist.
Tell us something about yourself or your brand:
The garments I create are quite unconventional. I play with different shapes and sometimes I reinvent them, because I don’t believe in “the perfect silhouette” but in the one that makes you feel great. I want to transmit emotion and feelings through my collections, to make people feel good in their skin, to accept the imperfections as perfect features; to make clothes that create a visual balance of the body.
I like the asymmetry in garment construction, the high level of details or to accentuate a certain segment of a garment. I aim for a balanced piece of clothing. I also love the idea of mixing fashion with different arts, to create a wearable piece of art.
Carol Pullen-Wakefield and Oceana Lucas from Oceana Carol Designer and Makers (second place)
What was your favourite part of the show? We both enjoyed seeing our 4 outfits finally being worn by the models before they went out on the catwalk.
Tell us something about yourself? Oceana and I are daughter and mother and this is the first time we have worked collaboratively together. Oceana studied Fashion design and construction at the same time I was studying Costume design and construction. We are currently working on a larger collection named Beauty Devours the Beast and has a theme of the elements running through it.
Briefly describe the look you went for: Jade: Our collection was inspired by Shakespeare’s Sonnet V and explores the idea that nothing of beauty survives winter unless it has been preserved but once preserved, it can always be remembered. Seasons evolve into winter which in turn encapsulates any remaining beauty. Visual ideas from the sonnets lines and an element of Shakespearean fashion inspired both the structural and petal shaped panelling. The preservation of summer and beauty of winter is alluded to through our print and colour palette.
What is your favourite part of the show?: Jade: For me it was finally seeing our collection on models and all together as a collab collection! We done our fittings using the toiles/mockups so we didn't see what they looked like before the show at all, nor did we see each others work before the show besides in photos on whatsapp. I think it all worked out together really well and our collection looked great as a whole! Plus of course, we won 3rd prize so that was a bonus!
Tell us something about yourself or your brand: Jade: I'm a graduate from the university of Portsmouth, currently working within the university in the Eldon workshop. I'm working towards setting up my own fashion/textiles brand, which is proving to be difficult but fun venture. My brand focuses on unique, individual unisex fashion and I like to use a wide range of inspires as I feel fashion doesn't have a boundary when it comes to looks and I like making wearable statements.
And this is me!
I wore a sheer white shirt from Mango which sadly got ruined - the team who own the venue, the Square Tower in Portsmouth, decided to paint the chairs with black gloss that day which was a huge mistake. Most of us ruined our clothes or bags. I got away fairly well with only a ruined shirt and some on my Zara coat! I paired it with my New Look high waist skinny jeans and my gold Long Tall Sally peep toes.
Well done to all the fantastic designers, the Southsea Shakespeare Actors for the play extract and South Zone Street Dance for the great dancing entertainment! It was a real find to get to go to a local fashion show, and made me think I really need to follow local colleges and Universities on Facebook to keep up to date with all the local events.