Backstage Photography: Victoria Decaux
The term, “Student fashion show,” was redefined at the University of St. Andrews this month, where DONT WALK, the school’s leading annual charity fashion show, took place in Scotland. A runway show was just one element of the evening’s events, which featured different seating sections for corporate, VIP and Super-VIP guests—similar to NYFW’s front row, except leave celebrity “royalty” for guests that came closer to actual royalty. Though the team neither promotes nor denies this fact, DONT WALK was the student fashion show Kate Middleton made her runway debut in 2002. The shear dress and black lingerie she wore seemed to bode well for her future, catching the eye of a fellow student named Prince William. This year’s show proved the organization has since skyrocketed equally in success and creativity.
Among many rising designers, the student-run show featured Vivienne Westwood handbags with the models’ final looks. This year’s theme, surveillance, was expressed through the CCTV signs that hung on each wall, as well as a large screen placed behind the models’ lingerie opening that played rolling credits of information found online about each guest who attended the show. Leigh Walderman, this year’s creative director, explains the theme’s relevance as a high definition spying of the most insidious sort. “We wanted to evoke the same paranoia that might be the effect of a surveillance system,” she said. “With our heavy involvement with social media, we’ve essentially created a crisp and vivid picture of our every movement in our lives. This thematic focus on the surveillance society informs the controversial and unorthodox nature of DONT WALK.”
The show followed its longtime tradition of supporting two charities: NYC’s Robin Hood Foundation, as the show was created in the wake of 9/11 to raise money, and Under 18, an organization that facilitates therapeutic treatment and activities for victims of abuse. A mid-show auction took place in order to raise money for each, including items like Piper Heidsieck Champagne, a stay at the Tenuta San Pietro Luxury Hotel in Italy and Celine sunglasses.
Ruby Redstone, assistant to the creative director, described the show as a party. “The upbeat vibe is fueled not only by tons of alcohol and good music, but by an intense bond formed over weeks of freezing cold rehearsals and two hour-long meetings perfecting everything from lighting to press passes to custom labels for gin bottles,” she said. “The whole event is a celebration of teamwork and of the power of students to create a beautiful, memorable experience for charity. So much of the fun comes purely from the pride of a job well done.”
The difference between DONT WALK and its fellow fashion shows at St. Andrews was the energy and edge models brought to the runway. There was no such thing as a stealthy, straight catwalk. Instead, the highly choreographed opening quickly turned into a sexy and lawless exhibition of fashion that ranged from layered denim and outerwear to lingerie that could free the nipple with one swift movement. A sense of camaraderie oozed from models who winked and turned to face each other throughout the show in what would’ve ended in a hand-hold or high-five were their hands not occupied by champagne flutes.