This year I finally got around to attending the Midlands Fashion Awards in Birmingham, 5 years after it’s inauguration. The key aim of the Awards to to help and promote emerging fashion and accessory designers within the Midlands area, as well as to inspire new talent and enterprises.
I have been following MFA for a few years now and have spoken a couple of times with the Founder and Managing Directory of the event Jenny Eason (who is an absolute inspiration and role model in herself). This year I sensed a huge shift in the Awards presence and status. First of all it moved from the beautiful, but out-of-town venue of Birmingham’s Botanical Garden’s, to a plush but more intimate feeling venue in Birmingham’s City Centre – the Penthouse Suite in the Loft Lounge. The easy accessibility of this venue would, I am sure, have attracted more visitors, including myself.
Secondly, tickets sold out about a week before the event was due to take place – always a good sign!
And thirdly, there was a much more organised and specifically themed presence on the Social Networks. Twitter in particular seemed very well considered and planned; there wasn’t a constant bombardment of information or pushy sales chatter (this in my opinion is a definite positive).
So a combination of all 3 points created a good buzz around the event.
The show itself was well structured and choreographed nicely. The runway was long and floor level – good for the front rowers and end of runway photographers, not so great for anyone on rows further back unfortunately. However, the production team may have predicted this lack of visual as they live streamed the show on monitors around the room. Not the same as seeing the models and designs first hand, but useful none-the-less.
There were some well thought out creations and designs being showcased with a nice variety of garment, cut, pattern and structure. Mostly womenswear was presented with a small collection of menswear from Catalyst by Tamara Joseph (http://www.tamarajoseph.co.uk). Would have been good to see more menswear – maybe next year?
Young Designer Award
The winner of the Young Designer section was awarded to Sarah King who showed us some earthy and rustic designs of interesting cut and silhouette, inspired from the weathering processes on plant life. The four outfits we saw were wearable and looked of good construction with toned down hues for the Autumn/Winter season.
Incidentally, I was sat next to her parents and when she was announced as winner they were endearingly shocked, but incredible excited for their Daughter – it was a pleasure to witness that reaction.
Independent Designer Award
Fazane Malik (http://www.fazanemalik.co.uk) was the well deserved winner of this category, displaying some skilled and elegant tailoring in her collection of catsuits, dresses and sheer shirts, all trimmed in various ways with her signature cross-hatch pattern. Fazane’s designs are incredible wearable with a hint of masculine cut but always maintaining femininity.
I can only see a positive future for Midlands Fashion Awards. Next year will hopefully be even more well attended, showcasing a new selection of emerging designers who push the boundaries of tailoring, design, printmaking and creativeness. I for one will look forward to it.
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