Brighton Frocks 2011

The Brighton Frocks show is always the beating heart of Brighton Fashion Week and, with designers Charlotte Appleby, Afton Ayache, Former Glory, Briar Rose Kelleher, Katie Newsam, Bugsy Pants, Sarina Poppy, I. Am. Ralph, Red Mutha and Joy Williams all showing their wares, it was no surprise to see a long queue snaking from the grand old St Martin’s Church long before the doors opened. Upon entry, the glitterati of the fashion scene effortlessly offered their best Blue Steel to the snapping paps, air-kissed acquaintances and sipped wine while they excitedly waited for the show to get under way.

Backstage couldn’t have offered more of a contrast to the relaxed vibe in the main auditorium. Anyone who has ever stepped behind the curtain of a fashion show will know the score. It’s barely controlled carnage back there. An explosion of colour and a blur of movement. Boobs, bums, abs and hair everywhere as male and female models dash around the cramped room frantically trying to ready themselves. A fug of hairspray fills the atmosphere. Everybody is in somebody’s way as they try to keep to the tightest schedule. Were the uninitiated to accidentally venture into this madness, they would never believe that proceedings would kick-off on time. But this is par for the course with a catwalk event, and the show does indeed go on, perfectly on schedule. Like a swan, no matter how much splashing and kicking takes place beneath the surface, the above-water elegance is never compromised.


Meanwhile, amid the madness, photographers were taking any opportunity to grab a few shots, meaning the tiny alleyway outside became an impromptu location for many a quick shoot.
As one has come to expect from Brighton Frocks, the show was typically diverse. One minute there’s punk attitude emanating from the catwalk, the next, Marie Antoinette elegance. In front of a sold-out room in the majestic setting, I. Am. Frank engaged in a colour assault with a Klaxons-meets-Tetris twist, while the Bugsy Pants collection received the best reception of the night from an oohing and woohing crowd. Check out a few shots from the show below.

Post gig, as the audience mingled with models and organisers, grabbed some opinions. Fashion aficionado and Brighton resident Tana Dean (on the left in this photo) said, “I liked the variety. Joy Williams and I. Am. Ralph, were the highlights.” When talk turned to the importance of Brighton Fashion Week and its place in the grand scheme of things, she told us, “It’s a really good thing. Everyone in Brighton is so diverse and everyone is fighting to be diverse.”

Fashion student Hattie Cox added, “[Founder/Director] Liz Bishop does an amazing job. Brighton Fashion Week is like a gateway to London.”

Former BFW model and genius illustrator, Alice Parsons, (who works under the name Owlstation) also enjoyed the occasion. “I thought the setting of the church made for an interesting show – with the clash between old holy tradition and sexy young things strutting their stuff. I really liked the choreography and the casting. I loved the music and there were some very cool VT things on the screen. Great fun.”

And so,  as the church emptied and the after-parties began, the organisers could happily kick back and enjoy a glass or two of wine, satisfied in the knowledge that Brighton Frocks continues to grow, influence and inspire. They can’t relax for long though, as the Couture Show takes place at the same venue tonight. Let the craziness recommence…

Words and pictures by Bobby Townsend.