Don’t Walk, the high-profile fashion show run by St Andrews University students, returned after a two-year hiatus. Gayle Ritchie reports.
Dark electronic beats and pounding techno accompanied the stone-faced models as they posed, pouted and strutted their stuff on the catwalk.
Friday night saw the return of Don’t Walk, the high-profile fashion show run by St Andrews University students that put Kate Middleton on the map in 2002.
The future Duchess of Cambridge modelled in it during her time in Fife and was catapulted into the headlines after wearing a see-through dress which caught Prince William’s eye.
This year’s show, at the Bowhouse near Anstruther, was the first since the pandemic.
Themed “Revelation”, it featured designs from both big names in fashion and up-and-coming young designers.
The looks were bold, edgy and somewhat dystopian, with the entrance of the models in otherworldly, alien-like, space-age get-up eliciting screams of excitement from the audience.
There were fun, flirty outfits on show too with the odd flash of bottom cheek and cleavage, as well as outdoor gear, flouncy dresses, party wear… and some styles that would look out of place anywhere other than on a catwalk.
Since its launch 20 years ago, the extravaganza has raised more than £275,000 for charities including the Robin Hood Foundation, First St Andrews and Comic Relief.
It’s the UK’s largest privately-run student fashion show and one of the hottest events in the style calendar.
Executive director Grace Dreher said the biggest challenge of putting on this year’s show was pandemic-related.
“Half of our target audience – first and second year students – never had the chance to experience a show because of coronavirus,” she said. “We had to focus on reaching this group of students but we did it.
“The week of the show is always challenging. It’s when everything comes together: the creative vision, the choreography, the music, the fashion, the logistics. This year everything came together with only a few hiccups and I am so proud of the 80 students who put everything they had into making this show the best it could be.
“Our models are just students – they’re not trained; they may never have been on stage before. For them to master this is a big achievement.”
For the first time, the music played to accompany the show was performed by student DJs live-mixing.
“There was no pre-recorded track,” said Grace. “They were in the DJ booth in the middle of the audience, playing tracks, watching the models, making sure the sound and model cues lined up. No-one’s ever’s done that at the show.”
Head of fashion Libby Reagan said she looked for clothes which presented “whimsical and confessional reflections into our humanity”.
She said: “My main focus was on student designers whose garments complemented not only the theme of Revelation but also Don’t Walk’s commitment to sustainability.
“Each of our designers align with our efforts this year of a ‘true revelation’ by addressing aspects of society, like sexuality and gender, and using fashion as a medium of exploration.”
Around 1,000 guests attended, with an auction during the show raising £10,000 for the charities Impact Arts and the Domestic Violence Project at the Urban Justice Center in New York.
Top dance acts
An afterparty featured two big names in dance music, with Anetha first to take to the stage followed by LSDXOXO.
Paris-based DJ and producer Anetha’s unique blend of trance, techno and hard dance had revellers whooping with joy, bounding up and down and dancing as if their lives depended on it. Her remix of the Vengaboys’ We Like to Party put smiles on everyone’s faces.
Our models are just students – they’re not trained; they may never have been on stage before. For them to master this is a big achievement.”
Berlin-based DJ and producer LSDXOXO is known for his ability to layer mainstream samples with electro, hardcore, and techno and his set didn’t disappoint.
This year’s show was based on Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time and top designers included Hanro, ERES, Anna Valentine and Altuzarra.
Don’t Walk was founded on the principle of not walking past problems in society, but instead taking action through artistic expression to raise awareness of global issues.