Frill a minute as Belfast Fashionweek comes of age
It may be winter outside, but in my heart it was spring yesterday as Belfast Fashionweek launched its new campaign for the spring/summer 2016 collections.
And, as this is the 21st season of the event, the theme this time around is of a continuous coming of age party with lots of excitement and celebrations washed down with every glass of sparkling West Coast Cooler.
An array of Northern Ireland's most glamorous models presented a sneaky peek of what is in store for the assorted shows and functions and allowed fashion followers to book tickets and plan their diaries in advance.
Close inspection suggests that there's a return to vivid colour popping and blocking from summer 2015, but contrasting fabrics as well as colours are used to create a bold and sometimes clashing look.
For those who are a little more demure, pale pastels also abound for SS16 and this season they're mixed with off-shoulder silhouettes plus lots of romantic ruffles and frills for a truly feminine effect.
Florals are bursting forth again - they've been around for about four seasons now in various guises - but this time they're also adorned with peasant frills and gypsy ruffles, too. It's quite a romantic and feminine season all in all.
To counter this, for tomboys and laddish girls, there is a massive 'death by denim' trend, with all-denim ensembles appearing in most designer and high street collections. So it would seem that the age-old style rule that "double denim is a no-no" is so last season and certainly doesn't apply for the summer of 16.
As for the schedule itself, the four-day event will run from March 10-13 and will feature the usual nightly catwalk shows launching the new looks from the high street, independently owned boutiques plus local designers' exclusive collections.
Also featured will be special retail and fashion awards, a brand new show especially for the fashion-conscious over-50s as well as a number of stylish soirees and lunches.
The schedule kicks off on Thursday, March 10 with the latest collections from local designers and independent boutiques on the runway.
Following from the ever successful designer night, the proceedings continue with the High Street Heaven show on Saturday, March 11, previewing the latest looks from the nation's biggest stores including Next and Warehouse, Dorothy Perkins, New Look, Designers at Debenhams and Miss Selfridge from CastleCourt, and brands like Joules, Tommy Hilfiger and Guess from Alana Lifestyle in Lurgan.
For those unable to make the evening catwalk shows there is Sushi Saturday at the uber-chic Zen during which The 'Director's Cut' fashion event showcases a selection of the best looks from across all shows at Belfast Fashionweek. Tickets are £30 per person. Finally, the hectic schedule will close as always in sumptuous style with the flagship Style Sunday lunch at Deane's at Queen's on March 20. This glamorous four-course gourmet luncheon, which is run in association with Action Cancer, accompanies trend forecasts, a mini fashion show and a mini masterclass from Fashionweek's hair, style and make-up partners.
Deane's at Queen's chefs provide the fine dining while guests are treated to designer fashion from Candy Plum boutique in Hillsborough. The charity lunch costs £45 and places can be booked on 028 9038 1555.
The full schedule is available online at www.belfastFashionweek.com along with details of this season's trends plus links to retailers and sponsors.
Catwalk tickets, which cost £20 (or £30 for a limited number of exclusive front row seats), are available from the Belfast Welcome Centre on 028 9024 6609 or via the website.