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25.5.16

#ManchesterFW Emerging Talent Night

Jenny Powell by Karina So. for Ses Rêveries at Manchester Fashion Week 2016

If the first night of catwalk shows at Manchester Fashion Week was the adventurous appetiser on the menu you thought you'd never try before, the second night was the decadent main course and caramelised dessert neatly packaged in a designer to-go bag with a complimentary bottle of their finest wine.


Bo Charika in HH Feluna by Karina So. for Ses Rêveries at Manchester Fashion Week 2016
HH Feluna by Karina So. for Ses Rêveries at Manchester Fashion Week 2016

Tuesday May 24, 2016

Such was the difference in atmosphere when I walked into the venue on Tuesday - the layout of which had been improved with DJ Sarah Giggle placed closer to the curtain with a view of the models and coordinators backstage - just minutes before the shows started in my most practical four-inch Mary Janes*. Nearly every guest not with the press was seated this time, dressed to the nines in cocktail dresses and smart suits - a more sophisticated bunch as the host Jenny rightly pointed out. With a large coat hung over my shoulders of my Canadian tuxedo I was no doubt underdressed - in true fashion critic style, I suppose. Cathy Horyn would be proud.

The collections last night were from upcoming designers, a runway debut for some even, but the pieces, the delivery, attention to detail, overall production suggested otherwise. The seductive palette of reds, blacks and golds in London-based designer Heather ChiTate's line HH Feluna really set the tone for the evening with her African roots so seamlessly woven into every piece. A more literal take on the Afro-European fashion composite followed with the Rochdale-based Martha Kuuya-Seidu of Fashion By Marita's beautifully panelled fabrics. Fine artist-turned-designer Nooshin's pieces evoked the temper of traditional Persian tapestry; her gorgeous coin prints and interesting use of draping velvet were fresh and exciting.

Elizabeth Pedro in Saffiyyah by Karina So. for Ses Rêveries at Manchester Fashion Week 2016

From the eccentric European designs of Saffiyyah exuding Italian glamour to the sartorial interpretation of Middle Eastern poetry from Poetic Style, each show was a feast for the eyes with entertainment provided by Myth of Unity, an energetic trio with such palpable chemistry and a great sound fusing electro-pop, dance and hip-hop (think Black Eyed Peas), as well as a phenomenal soul singer whose name I nor the people I managed to quiz about it managed to catch but watch this space.

Myth of Unity by Karina So. for Ses Rêveries at Manchester Fashion Week 2016
Photographed by Karina So. for Ses Rêveries at Manchester Fashion Week 2016

Poetic Style by Karina So. for Ses Rêveries at Manchester Fashion Week 2016
Ndey Manneh in Yvonne Yvette by Karina So. for Ses Rêveries at Manchester Fashion Week 2016

The beauty on the runway was less high-fashion with full dark brows, highlighted cheeks and matte nude lips courtesy of the incredible talent at Abbie May LDN, while Andrew Joseph Manion's hair team swapped the crimped, teased locks from last night for sleek quiffs and neat, low buns. While Abbie's main challenge was no doubt the blocked brows last night, Andrew noted the challenges his team faced working with the various hair textures and styles without prior knowledge of the state their hair would be in. From full frontal closures and natural afros to bone-straight locks and bangs, the diversity was evident. As more testimonies continue to hit the Twittersphere from short-changed models of colour and their struggles dealing with incompetent beauty teams in the industry, the looks last night were a testament to the breadth of talent and versatility at AJM Hairdressing and Abbie May London; phenomenal work overall.

Abbie May and Jenny Powell by Karina So. for Ses Rêveries at Manchester Fashion Week 2016
Andrew Joseph Manion and Jenny Powell by Karina So. for Ses Rêveries at Manchester Fashion Week 2016

The final curtain metaphorically drew on the last catwalk show of the season from Karen Corson with Manchester Fashion Week's checkered past was far from everyone's thought. By no means perfect, FashionE Manchester Fashion Week 2016 didn't just rise from the ashes left behind by its slew of previous sponsors and organisers who eventually got tired of playing pass the Dutchie with this dark horse of an event for a number of years. After my serendipitous bus ride home with Lily, a fellow attendee and fashion illustrator who just so happened to have assisted Poetic Style's Asifa Malik with the finishing touches on her presentation, it was certain: the future of Mancunian fashion may not be now but it's close.

As Amanda Moss rightly put it, Rome wasn't built in a day.

Amanda Moss and Jenny Powell by Karina So. for Ses Rêveries at Manchester Fashion Week 2016

Keep your eye out for the individual show reviews rolling out this week in chronological order.

I was a guest at FashionE Manchester Fashion Week 2016 as a member of the press c/o Amanda Moss and Amanda Moss PR.

photography by yours truly


*That was a joke. There is no such thing as "practical" four-inch heels when several hours on your feet are involved.
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