Bristol Fashion Week SS18: Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity is something that the fashion world has only just woken up to. This month's Vogue has diversity as the focus of their front cover and Bristol Fashion Week made it the main selling point this season. I have long attended the Bristol Fashion Week shows and I have always thoroughly enjoyed them but this season was easily my favourite. The message of diversity was embodied throughout the show and I thought it was a great way of making the show itself more unique. In previous years they have taken a clear inspiration from London Fashion Week and the traditional runway but this year they made a conscious decision to standout which I thought was important for the audience. A lot of the people who attend London Fashion Week are celebrities and people who work in the industry whereas Bristol Fashion Week is for people who take an interest in fashion as a hobby. For the most part, we are just average people in Bristol. With a more diverse and realistic cast, it makes the show less elitist and gives the audience more to identify with.

I want to start off by focusing on the models and how great it was to see everyone represented on a catwalk. Some of the cast had disabilities, there were different sizes, different ages, different ethnicities and the show came together to represent everyone in the audience in some way. I always take a keen interest in Fashion Week, but I never feel represented. To be a model you still have to be a certain height and a certain weight. Fashion has come a long way since the supermodels of the 90s when everyone looked the same but fashion still has a long way to go. There are still not enough plus size models walking the catwalk. A lot of the time, plus size is not what anyone would really consider plus size, I don't care what you say 12-14 is not plus size. In the real world 12-14 is an average size and a runway should reflect that.

Realistically not everyone has wildly long legs with perfect faces. I am the complete opposite so sometimes when I look at catwalks I see clothes I like but I instantly dismiss them as I know they aren't going to look like that on me and my dumpy frame. For reference, I am a petite lady, I am just over 5 foot and I vary between a size 4-6 so I am as far away as you can get from a model. Bristol Fashion Week did not have anyone that petite, except the Children, but they still had shorter dancers so I felt included. I felt like looking at the models anyone could visualise the clothes and they could see themselves represented on the catwalk. All of the models looked incredible, especially Jack, he was gorgeous! My friend and I were literally gawking at him whenever he was on the runway. I think the diversity of the models is what made this show for me and I think it is about time other fashion shows took notice. A Diverse cast shouldn't be a something that is seen as unusual.

Not only were the models amazing but I really liked the different scenes. None of them were groundbreaking but at the end of the day, this is a high street fashion show. However the show has inspired me to add a few pieces to my wardrobe which is what it is all about. I won't go through the show, scene by scene, but I liked pretty much all of them. This season I felt like each scene was completely individual whereas in previous years it has felt like they ran out of ideas and did the same looks twice. As it is Spring/Summer, of course there were some florals. Immediately the quote from Miranda Preistly in Devil Wears Prada sprang to mind, 'Florals? For Spring? Groundbreaking.' I say that but there was a top I liked in this section which is from New Look and it is called the Black Kimono Sleeve Wrap Top. If I hadn't have seen it on the runway I wouldn't have even given it the time of day in store but after seeing someone wearing it, it changed my mind.

Mono Mash was my favourite scene as it focused on black and white but it didn't feel like the normal trends. I was expecting to see a lot of gingham, tailoring and the Price of Wales check (Glen Plaid) and there were some elements of all of these trends but they also included lots of stripes and a bit of colour blocking. They do a monochrome section every season but I always wait to see what they going to do with it and what clothes are available, as I find them easy pieces to add to my wardrobe.

I loved the Pastel Palette scene as they incorporated the light pink shade I have been trying to add to my wardrobe. It is always good to know that you are slightly on trend when you didn't even realise you were. The final section that really called to me was Trench Dressing. A light Trench Coat is perfect for Spring, it gives you some form of protection from the chill and wind, but you are not bundling yourself up with a normal coat. A trench coat can be really chic and they are an iconic piece for Burberry. Burberry have been selling the trench coat for years and they are still lusted after by most people. My dream is to one day own a Burberry trench but I have a feeling I am far too petite for one. I would probably end up looking more like a flasher than a classy lady. I loved that a classic style was given the attention it deserves as it can be easy to overlook a classic trend for something more current.

The scene that has a similar vibe with the mimicking of designer goods was Retro Reboots but I don't think the clothes were as strong as the trench coats. A trench coat is a style of coat and yes, Burberry are iconic for their trench coat but it isn't completely copying if someone else makes one. Copying an iconic pattern is different. This is the reason that I wasn't impressed by the imitation Versace Print that Quiz are currently selling. The pattern is literally the same as Versace. Generally I am not a fan of the signature Versace print, it is far too bold for me but I do understand that it is iconic. I am actually watching The Assassination of Gianni Versace and I am really enjoying it. Watching the show has made me more aware of the brand and what they have created over the years. There has been a resurgence of Versace over the past year with their signature print making its way back in popular fashion. This will please anyone who bought into the trend back in the 90s but for the rest of us the price has increased quite a lot. Personally it is not something I would invest in but if I liked the pattern I feel like I would rather have the real thing than a copy. This is a trend that will definitely go out of fashion again so if you do like the print but do not want to invest, have a look in Quiz. Having said all of this I do like that the stylists for the show are trying to cover a trend but give a cheaper alternative.

Another trend that really isn't for me is Sport Luxe. I am not a fan of trackie bottoms and heels. My trackies do not leave the house. Much like the cheap Versace, I can see what they are going for. When Mark Heyes said it was trackie bottoms I was picturing my baggy, comfy trackie bottoms; what materialised on the catwalk was very different. There were no cuffed bottoms and there were no sports brands. They used straight legged or wide trousers with a stripe down the side. I do love the sports stripe trend that is happening and I love sweatshirts which featured heavily in this scene. However I really am lost at the trackie bottoms and heels concept. With most of the scenes, even this one, I managed to take something away from it. The Hi-Lo scene has made me want to find more of this sports stripe to add to my wardrobe but in a more formal style than trackie bottoms.

The only section that truly terrified me was Print Mix. I don't wear print very often and the idea of mixing prints is scary territory. However the print mix did see the dancers come back. Last season they ditched the dancers and up until then I didn't realise how much of a difference they make to the pace of the show. They give you a break from people parading in front of you and also pick up the energy a bit. Models do not smile much so having the dancers gives the show a slightly more friendly approach.

One trend that I feel could have been incorporated would be Slogan Tees and positive fashion. Fashion is having a real moment with slogan tops which send a positive message and this trend has really been taken on by the high street. River Island and Topshop have whole sections dedicated to this trend so it would have been quite any easy one to do. This is quite a new trend compared to something like monochrome and would have been a great section to include in a show about showing diversity in a positive way. These tops show the movement within fashion to be less serious.
This season there seemed to be a better balance of brands: there were pieces from Ted Baker, Reiss, New Look, River Island, Topshop and lots more. There was a real mix of brands but as always I do wish there were more designer items featured but that won't happen as there aren't any designer stores in The Mall. The closest you get is John Lewis. The Mall are restricted to what is currently being stocked within The Mall whereas for London Fashion week, a designer creates pieces around a concept. It can't be easy to find a good balance of items that everyone is going to like and to get defined scenes but this season I think they have done a good job. I loved that Karen Millen had a larger section this year as they have some really good pieces at the moment and I actually saw a pair of boots I loved. The boots encompassed the Sock Boot trend but in a more wearable, modern design.

I loved the return of Mark Heyes. Mark has been presenting Bristol Fashion Week for years and every single time he does such a good job. His fashion knowledge is incredible, which you would expect considering the amount of fashion presenting he has done. He is always upbeat and he gives small nuggets of information about celebs which personally I love to hear. He is always impeccably dressed and I don't think Bristol Fashion Week would be the same without him. This season Mark was joined by Katie Piper who is someone I've heard of but I don't know too much about her. Can I just say she is absolutely gorgeous. She was wearing a dress from Warehouse which had multi-directional stripes and she looked amazing. It was understated and looked lovely. I also loved her style of presenting. She has a very likeable quality that not everyone has and you can tell she likes her fashion. I really enjoyed that between the two of them they gave quite a few styling tips so you could adjust outfits to your size and to fit your style. They haven't really done this before, normally they have just spoken about how you can incorporate a trend but this year they did little demos which I appreciated. As a petite lady I struggle with some styles looking too bulky. One of Mark's tips was to do up the belt of a trench coat around the back to take some of fabric away from the front so it doesn't look as bulky. This is something I hadn't tried before but it is something that could make the style suit me and give me a little bit of shape. The evening show I went to was a bit dead. The crowd weren't really participating and both Katie and Mark handled it really well. It was a Thursday evening so I imagine a lot of people were tired from work but I do think the crowd could have done more than re-enact the walking dead.

This season I decided to splash out and I bought silver tickets for my friend and I. After last seasons's queuing fiasco I decided that for £1 extra it was worth not having to wait as long to get in. My friend and I were slightly late due to a slow paced Wagamamas but we got there just in time for the start. As a silver ticket holder you get a second row seat which was good but not massively different from the standard seats which were behind us. As I said it was worth the extra £1 just to get in quicker so the second row seat was a bonus. Part of the ticket money went to the Katie Piper Foundation. Katie spoke about the charity a little bit and it is astonishing how much support they provide to burn victims. Unfortunately acid attacks are on the rise so the work the foundation does is more important than ever.

There were some elements to the show that did leave me a bit disappointed but they weren't major things. The first was that once again the goody bag was crap! I can't even express how uninterested I was in anything inside the bag. The goody bags used to be amazing, they were filled with beauty samples but not anymore. There was a hair serum and that was it! In the bag there was: the standard packet of hair supplements, a drink, some crisps and that was basically it. I think it is time to consider if it even worth doing the goody bags anymore?

The second thing was that I had watched all of these wonderful clothes being modeled in front of me but I couldn't buy any of them. Previously The Mall shut at 9 but recently they changed the opening hours so a lot of stores close at 8. I went to the 7:15pm showing and it had gone 8 by the time the show ended. I wanted to go into New Look and River Island to have a look at a few items but I couldn't because the stores were closed. I had to wait and hope that I didn't forget the clothes I wanted to see in person. If you want to go to Bristol Fashion Week in the future this is something to consider when you are booking the tickets, especially if you are forgetful like me.

Yep I need a tan!
Even though I couldn't go shopping that evening, I live close to The Mall so I decided to stop at The Mall on my way home from work the following day. I decided to take a look at the items I had wanted to look at the night before. They did not have my size in the crop top from New Look but there was a playsuit I wanted from River Island. During the show it had been worn by one of the shorter models and I really liked it. I thought it would be perfect for my holiday in May. I have put a picture of me trying it on above. If I had walked past this in River Island I would have dismissed it as this sort of style doesn't usually suit me. Playsuits and anything that is layered tends to make me look stumpy but when I tried this playsuit on, it fit well and I had instantly styled it in my head. I thought it could be worn with a pair of sandals for daytime or dressed up with a pair of heels. Without going to the fashion show I would have missed out on this playsuit which really would have been a shame as it is a great addition to my summer wardrobe.

Overall I loved the show. The feeling of inclusion was empowered within the entire show. One of the things Mark and Katie said really stuck with me. They spoke about how fashion has a perception of being elitist and frivolous but it isn't always about how trendy you are or even about looking like a model. Fashion is about empowering you. It is about finding an outfit which can give you confidence and can make you walk that little bit taller. Bristol Fashion Week shows how fashion can be done on a budget to give you the confidence you need to get you through the day. You don't need to be rich to dress well. You can tailor pieces to suit you and the trends you have just seen on the runway can be found in your local store immediately. Diversity was the message of this show and it ran through every element of the show: the models, the styles and the budget. A good fashion show will leave you inspired and Bristol Fashion Week certainly succeeded in doing this.

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