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Monday 4th November saw the London Premier of Alastair Lee’s film, ‘The Last Great Climb’. A wonderfully inspiring documentary about adventure climber Leo Holding’s expedition to climb the North East ridge of Ulvetanna: The Wolf’s Tooth, in Antarctica.

I was privileged enough to attend the premier; privileged enough to see and experience the enthusiasm of Leo and his team consisting of:

Leo Holding – Expedition Leader

Sean ‘Stanley’ Leary – Lead Climber

Jason Pickles – Climber

Chris Rabone – Support Climber

Al Lee – Film Director & Photographer

Dave Reeves – Cameraman

The atmosphere right from entering the cinema held a real buzz of positivity, passion and friendliness. How often do you feel that upon entering a room full of strangers?

Winding my way through the incredibly good looking and fit crowd (well it was full of climbing enthusiasts!) I sought out my old school friend Jason (or ‘Pickles’ as we all used to call him – original nickname hey..?!). He was nervous and confessed to not particularly liking being in the spotlight. This is understandable from a well grounded, northern town lad. Jason was and always is very humble about the opportunities that come his way.

After a few more words of encouragement, which no doubt didn’t help to ease his nervousness(!), Jason went off to have some press photos & the rest of us were ushered into the screening room.

We were given a short introduction by Ben Fogle who was then joined by the climbers. A few words from Leo followed about the 3 main objectives of the climb which were,

1) To successfully climb the NE ridge & summit Ulvetanna,
2) To make a film about the climb and,
3) To have a safe expedition and ensure everyone comes back home safely.

All three were thankfully and amazingly achieved. In celebration of this fact a well deserved bottle of champers was opened in a rather unique fashion by Leo and enjoyed by the team.

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On to the film…

Simply put, it was absolutely brilliant. It captures the essence of the stunning landscape, the team, their talent, their humour and their personalities beautifully.

The film footage & photography had been edited fluently with the teams personal thoughts and reactions interspersed with the finesse and technicalities of the climbing. The knowledge of adventure filming and skill required from Al and Dave (as well as the teams cooperation) to produce this footage was definitely not underestimated. The final effect was that of space, peace, beauty, skill, friendship and ultimately an appreciation of life.

There was humour mixed throughout, even when conditions seemed to be fighting against their climbing. It was this humour and the tight bond of friendship, trust and humility that makes this wonderful viewing. I wanted to cry at times; definitely not through sadness but from feeling heart-warmed and exhilarated. It really honestly touched me. This, alongside the fact that the whole team are so lovely, decent and inspiring really moved me.

An open Q & A session with the team hosted by the legendary climber Doug Scott  CBE, rounded off the evening, giving us more insightful stories about the trip and the teams thoughts and feelings.

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After managing to have a final quick work with Jason, I left the theatre with a feeling positive and inspired!

Amazing. On to the next climb…

The Last Great Climb DVD is available from the 1st of December. It can be preordered & purchased through Al Lee’s company Posing Production’s:
http://www.posingproductions.com/product.php?form_action=detail&product_id=257

Blog & photos of the climb available here:
Climb Details: http://www.berghaus.com/en/ber_2011/staticpages/ulvetanna/ulvetannaiframe.html

Ulvetanna Blog: http://www.berghaus.com/community/?cat=210

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MFAlogo MFA 2013

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.

MFA 2014

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.

Thank you.

Photos and reports:

www.midlandsfashionawards.co.uk

http://www.professionalphotography.me.uk

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