I feel very privileged to have attended one of the most fashionable events of the year. The inaugural Commonwealth Fashion Exchange was held at Buckingham Palace on Monday night. I wasn’t sure who would be attending the event bar The Duchess of Cambridge (Kate) and Sophie countess of Wessex, but it turned out to be a star studded event of fashion royalty… Anna Wintour, Stella McCartney, Livia Firth, Naomi Campbell, Erin O’Connor, Hamish Bowles to name but a few.
Myself and Chloe Dougan (a Belfast based Fashion Designer) were two of the first to arrive . We were mesmerised by the grandeur of the Palace. We were shown to the exhibition rooms where a number of the displays were created by designers throughout the Commonwealth. While looking at the UK piece by Stella McCartney , in walked Anna Wintour!! I was completely star struck!!! Once everyone arrived, we were ushered into one room for Kate to make her entrance… and she was even more stunning in real life. We were not allowed to take photographs in all the rooms, but I have seen an official one online where I am in the same shot as her. Delighted to have that!!!
The event was created by Livia Firth ( Colin’s wife) founder of Ecoage. She aims to increase awareness of sustainable fashion and appreciation of handcrafting. My final year dissertation was about the revival of craftsmanship and as a ‘handmade’ designer myself this strikes a chord! One of my main struggles in this business is feeling like I have to compete with the high street..Fast fashion gives an unrealistic view of the process and labour involved. The event has reassured me that my skills and time taken are valuable.
I received the invitation in December and immediately had to get designing an outfit fit for the Palace! I had a million ideas before settling on one! And in the spirit of the event, it made sense to use what material I had to hand. I had decided on a wine velvet dress… the jacket was initially going to be made from one of the tartans I use for the waistcoats, but I had a change of heart and opted for an embroidered raw silk fabric I previously used for a friend’s dress. I thought the combination of velvet and raw silk were perfectly opulent and regal, which I decided was the look I wanted to achieve for the event. I had just enough fabric to make a jacket and for the statement collar I used the left over Mikado I used for my wedding dress (how resourceful of me ;-) eh!) I am delighted with the outcome and it even coordinated with the Palace interior!!!!
I think this occasion will be a hard one to top, but delighted to have had this experience!
Chloe Dougan (Belfast Fashion Designer) Livia Firth (Ecoage founder) and me
photo credit Sean Ebsworth
photo credit Sean Ebsworth
About to head in
Samoan Designer Afa Ah Loo
Hamish Bowles international Editor for Vogue
At the gates
Me in the background!