Thursday, 25 April 2019

Inside the new Bristol Fashion Week

Bristol Fashion Week Festival Review Plus Size Travel Blogger

Hey Owlets,

One of my first ever "blog things" was a trip to Bristol Fashion Week way back in 2016 only months after I'd started The Owlet - I had basically no idea what I was doing and reading back now that post is an embarrassment, so feel free to go have a laugh at my expense. That was the first and last time I posted about the show, and there's a good reason for that. For years Mum and I had the tradition of going to the show together followed by dinner, but at no point when I was watching the array of perfect women walking down the catwalk did I feel represented. While the size 8-12 models looked beautiful no one looked like me, so we stopped going. This year, however, Bristol Fashion Week has had a makeover of it's own, promising that the new look "Bristol Fashion Week Festival" would bring equality and accessibility for all, so of course I had to go take a look.

Bristol Fashion Week Festival Review Plus Size Travel Blogger

When I first arrived I honestly wondered if I'd come to the right place - the outdated marquees have been dumped in favour of these modern inflatable tents. The site definitely has that festival feel with a huge floral archway to walk through into the tented village, with each tent having something different to offer. The biggest tent is where all the main events take place, and this is joined by two "experience tents" where you can take a look at some of the brands from within the mall and enjoy what they have to offer. There was also one small tent off to the side which housed the personal styling workshops, but we'll talk more about that later.

Bristol Fashion Week Festival Review Plus Size Travel Blogger

The "herd everyone into a dark room for an hour" has gotten the boot in favour of a more conversational-style event. The original fashion show is still the main event, but there are also talks with different influencers and a talk on styling a capsule wardrobe. If I'm being totally honest I didn't get a lot of value from the talks but I think that's because I'm "on the inside". The talks were more about why they started their blogs and as neither of them particularly appealed to me it was a little wasted, although I could imagine that to the average non-blogging person it would be a great insight. If we hadn't been on a press trip I would've chosen a different day when I could've attended a talk that appealed to me more. The styling workshop was interesting in the sense that I've always wondered how people get that "effortless glam" when I look like I've just rolled out of bed, but I don't think I'm going to be donating all my clothes in favour of a capsule wardrobe any time soon!

Bristol Fashion Week Festival Review Plus Size Travel Blogger

This year the festival focused on the idea of equality and accessibility and that was really reflected in the show. Throughout all of the talks a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter was present allowing anyone deaf or hard of hearing to join in the conversation, and she was displayed on the screens at the top so everyone could see.

I was also impressed with how different bodies had been included - we saw models of all different skin tones and ethnicities, those with physical limitations and FINALLY after all the years I felt like I didn't fit in, there were plus size models! They weren't *very* plus size but I appreciate the effort. 

In fairness to the mall, the show has always been about the different looks you can create from their in-store brands. Evans left years ago before body positivity was en-vogue, Yours Clothing took a store in the city centre and brands with a plus size section such as New Look and River Island chose not to put any larger sizes in store so I don't think the mall is to blame here; you can only work with what you've got and if almost every store has chosen to only go up to a size 18 then that's the biggest model they can put on the catwalk.

Bristol Fashion Week Festival Review Plus Size Travel Blogger

Another thing to mention is Cribbs Causeway's excellent efforts towards being eco-friendly. At no point did I see a plastic straw or single-use plastic cup anywhere. I was given prosecco in a reusable plastic glass, and I noticed coffee being handed out in paper cups. In previous years we've come away with pages and pages of unnecessary paper - a show running order, an entire book of vouchers that are valid for so little time that you'll probably never use them and dozens of leaflets for every brand that's played even the most minor role in delivering the show. This year all of that has gone, each scene was displayed on the screens above the runway and details of each outfit is available from a lookbook on their website. I'm sure some people will miss the vouchers and I didn't find a paperless alternative, but as someone who's never used them I wasn't in the slightest bit bothered. My only slight complaint is that now the goody bags have gone the way of the dodo, there's no vouchers and no raffles to take part in, I have to wonder why the ticket hasn't gotten any cheaper.

Bristol Fashion Week Festival Review Plus Size Travel Blogger

After watching the show and listening to the talks we headed into the experience zones to see what was on offer. I kind of expected there to be a few freebies around in lieu of the goodybags but apart from Clinique handing me a few samples that I could've picked up in store there was absolutely nothing which was a bit of a dissapointment. The available offerings were good if a little limited, with three different brands offering to do your hair. There was a nespresso stand trying to sell their machines, a stand where you could pay to have your nails done or for a henna tattoo, and Charlotte Tilbury's rather pitiful offering of a red lip-shaped sofa to take a photo on. I think if you timed it right it could be great, but on a Saturday afternoon just after the fashion show it was so full that we didn't even look in the second tent. I did, however, get my hair done by Dyson which I loved - my hair looked fabulous and at no point did I get the "hard sell" so I'm absolutely a fan.

Bristol Fashion Week Festival Review Plus Size Travel Blogger

Despite my criticisms I'm absolutely a fan of the new look Bristol Fashion Week. It's definitely got a way to go until it's perfect, but I appreciate the huge amount of effort that's obviously gone into the redesign and being able to see my body shape on the runway really does make me feel part of it. 

Having not been for several years I would definitely consider booking a ticket for the autumn/winter show. Okay I still can't buy any clothes I see on the runway, but at least I can now see what styles suit curves to shop elsewhere.

Have you been to Bristol Fashion Week, this year or previously? If so let me know what you thought, either in the comments or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 
You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest

This post is in collaboration with the Mall at Cribbs Causeway but all views are my own

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