Could York become a major destination for fashionistas?

Lisa Byrne

Lisa Byrne - Credit: Archant

Our style-conscious columnist welcomes the latest trends on the streets of York.

TIME TO SLAP on a pair of oversized Prada shades and practice perfecting your air kissing as York, our glorious historic county town, looks set to launch its own fashion week from 2018. Yes, for far too long style has revolved around London, Paris, Milan and that place across the pond which stole our name. Now there’s a strong drive to show what an on-trend county Yorkshire is, but it’s something I’ve known for a long time. Despite living in London for years and having some of the country’s top designers on speed dial - one of the few perks of editing a top celebrity magazine - I relished my trips back home to Yorkshire to revamp the wardrobe, in a much calmer environment than the horror that is Oxford Street.

The Jimmy Choo-heeled fash pack will descend on the old capital of the north for the spectacular Fashion City York, which it is hoped will evolve into an annual fashion week. As we went to print, a pop-up catwalk was planned in Stonegate, a Fashion Village marquee to take over Parliament Street and Browns store’s super hot Jockey model Gavin was set to raise temperatures parading around in his smalls. The festival, run by a small group of dedicated volunteers including Angela Horner, the associate director at Browns, was to kick off with an uber chic catwalk show hosted by Fenwicks and I can’t wait to take my front row seat. The only problem is what to wear? Because fashion people can be terrible fussy.

One of my most surreal fashion experiences was in New York during one February fashion week. I had been sent by OK! Magazine to cover the most glamorous event of the year, the VH1/Vogue show. It was my first visit to the States, but my frenzied excitement turned to blind panic as I stood alone by the luggage conveyer belt at JFK. It appeared that my suitcase, in which I had invested a ridiculous amount of time and money planning a chic NYC wardrobe, had disappeared.

On a tiny budget and with just one hour before the show, I rushed into the nearest clothes store (think brightly lit Methodist Church jumble sale) and grabbed a black, full-length flannel dress for $10. Running from the hotel to the red carpet I joined the cramped press pen outside Madison Square Garden. In the Arctic conditions I could have frozen to death, but thankfully the psychotically aggressive American photographers kept me alive by repeatedly bashing me over the head with their cameras while attempting to get the money shot.

The growing crowd of hysterical New Yorkers screamed as Madonna glided past hand in hand with Stella McCartney followed by goddess-like Jennifer Lopez and Pamela Anderson, letting her assets hang out much to the joy of the paparazzi. Home-grown talent Victoria Beckham and Emma Bunton, clad in equally flimsy gowns, sympathised with me shivering in the icy weather. Victoria gushed that she couldn’t wait for the show, but then confided that she was really looking forward to drinking tea and eating marmite on toast in the warmth of her hotel room (in those days she ate carbs).

Once inside I was bellowed at by a bouncer who screamed, ‘MOVE! You’re blocking the path of John Galliano’s muse,’ before a crazed-looking creature, resembling a demented scarecrow sauntered past. And so it continued. The air kissing and tedious fake praise for rather garish outfits. The show was amazing with performances from Beyonce and Mariah Carey and all the stars traipsed to the after party at the hip Hudson Hotel, including a sedate Sir Paul McCartney, who sipped wine and played pool in a quiet corner. As I queued at the bar, a man who looked like an extra from Zoolander turned to me and screeched, ‘Oh my gawd! your Prada dress is divine, I love Prada!’ I was worried the poor love would throw up when I smiled and named the $10 couturier that had produced this rag. Thankfully, I have a feeling Fashion City York will be a much more down-to-earth affair!

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