Midlands Fashion designers awards 2011: Up there with the best of them

Model: Ellie Reeves (Alan Sharman model agency) with myself for the finale of Dolls of DecadenceUK
Image by Adam Fraise

Ok so maybe I didn’t win the award for Emerging designer at the Midlands Fashion Designers awards, but what a way to end the tour of the 2nd collection- The Beautiful Ugly A/W2011 from Dolls of Decadence. For that particular show it would not be utterly a lie to say, as some people do, something like: “Well, its the taking part that matters! “ Normally, I never have that attitude! If I’m doing anything I can’t deny that I want to be up there with the best of them.
Of course, I wanted to win. I can’t think anybody entering anything on a competitive level, without hoping and wanting to win. To be  a nominee, most definitely did for a moment have me day dreaming: I could potentially hold the title for Midlands emerging designer 2011…… Snap back to reality! Guess , it’s a bloody good job I am under no illusion that I am the best designer in the Midlands. That would be absurd to even contemplate that! Though I meet some designers, who really believe in their own hype and think they are the shizzle, when really they are pretty medicoure- or in some cases, wiggedy wiggedy-whack!  So yes, I was slightly disappointed, but hey it is what it is and I still can add:  ‘2011 Nominee for Midlands emerging Designer’ to my resume. Whoop! Whoop! Two thumbs up for that.

Sophia Coker by Paul Smith

Janinah Mckenise in Dolls of Decadence
The show itself, definitely gave Birmingham’s Fashion scene a voice in an industry that has for a long time, not credited Birmingham with having  good enough opportunities or a platform for promoting its design talent. Well- Jenny Eason (the show’s organiser) and the team behind Midlands Fashion  Designer’s awards definitely changed that, with what they did with this year’s show and other shows before.
I cannot lie, after the shows I have done this year in London , Leicester, Leeds and Liverpool (Wow- all those cities, start with the letter L ….I just noticed that now! I was thinking Birmingham, like everyone say ‘ain’t ready!’
Model: Ellen Ferguson in Dolls of Decadence. Image by Adam Fraise

London, was as expected sharp, smooth, great location, models and team and as accomdationg as everyone was Londoners always have an air that is not as warming as us Northerners- I still love Londoners, so lets not get that twisted. Oh and there were lots of camera….lots. Those ones with the big lenses that make the moment I have to do my finale walk on incredibly nerve racking.

It’s weird to think, that I spent 8 years studying acting and performing. I should be totally comfortable in front of any type of camera at the finale of my collection at a fashion show. I am not. I say: I’m gonna do this or that and most definitely not have that sheepish bemused smile, I always have in all the pictures I see of me at the finale. Yet, as soon as I get out there, everything I was telling myself I would do, doesn’t happen. I grip the models hand, walk watching my feet so I don’t break my neck on stage and do that damn smile! My hands sweat like mad- and I have seen a model laugh and wipe her hands, after when have returned backstage and detached ourselves from each other. I think it’s because when I go out there I am being just me. I am not acting and whether the audience love or hate the collection, they will know that it’s me who put it together.  As a designer, you are putting it all out there, when you emerge at the end of you collections showing. There is no airbrushing or anything else to hide any sins.
Lucky, fellow designer, Tamara Joseph, was taking part in the show too. So, backstage was cool and the support of Paul Smith, Sophia Coker and Chantelle Hall in the audience was fantastic too.
Image by Michael Walker. Leeds Fashion show 2011

Leicester, was more than I had expected: great sponsors, location, set up and performances. Everyone was warm and welcoming so I felt at ease and it also helped that the models were volunteers, so you could feel the essence of their intrigue into everything fashion. Unlike industry models, who are well accustomed to runway shows and completely take it in their stride, only speaking when spoken to.

Leeds, did not disappointment. Long before I became a part of the fashion circle. I knew the Yorkshire area was hub and heart to many higher end Independent Fashion designers and labels. With London generally being the home for High fashion labels.
So on stepping into the backstage area, taken aback- yes, but not surprised by the quality of the work by some of the designers. I  had a moment when I doubted myself and my collection and felt like it wouldn’t measure up to those, who I was to show with. I felt at that time incredibly lonely and vunerable- there was no Tamara Joseph, Paul Smith, Sophia Coker or anyone I really knew. I did brush with a few of my old school friends, who had started their own label, Fresh2 Def clothing and where showing at the event, but besides that it was my collection and I.
Fortuneately, my collection did not disappoint. Backstage comments of : ‘Your collection is bad ass’ and ‘Ooo, I like your collection’ along with the audiences enthaustic applause, left me feeling relieved and exhilarated as I headed back to Birmingham.

Image by Michael Walker

Liverpool– The show itself was a little disappointing, but I had so much fun with team Fashion Pony. So we shall move one.

Finally, homeward bound to the final show for Dolls of Decadence- The Midlands Fashion designers awards. What a great show to finish on. The set reviled Leeds Fashion show and that was a show…
Aside from the room being a tad too warm- even by my standards and I am one of those “Some like it hot” kinda chicks coupled with the few technical hitches. The show was a huge success for Birmimngham, if I may say so. I will even go as far as saying of all the shows, Birmingham repped the hardest with the calibre of models and we had the best hair team! Ha- Toni & Guy: official sponsors of London Fashion Week…..and I even got my name and Label name projected on the back wall while the models ripped the runway in Dolls of Decadence.
 Birmingham, stand up tall and brush your shoulders off. Who said that Birmingham has nothing good to offer in Fashion. Yes- all the major opportunities and connections in England are In London, you wouldn’t expect different form the capital city, would you? But thanks to people like Jenny Eason, we ain’t doing to bad and hopefully I won’t have to relocate to London, some time yet.