UCD Fashion Show Review: Power to Politics

Shane Cullen reviews the highly anticipated UCD Fashion Show.[br]The UCD Fashion Show, now in its 30th year of production, took place on the 15th and 16th of February. This year all proceeds that were raised were in aid of Jigsaw, a charity dedicated to youth mental health. This year the annual showcase was centred around the concept of zeitgeist – the spirit or mood of a historical moment. The categories focused around societal landmark movements from past to present. Some of the categories included styles inspired by the suffragettes, LGBTQ+ and black rights. With footage playing at the beginning of each section there was a distinct “reeling in the years” vibe. The production provided many catwalk highlights but the fashion itself may have missed the memo. The debut presentation opened with a backdrop of the suffragettes and women's’ rights march footage, and anticipation built from the audience as to how this would be translated onto the catwalk. The first look of the evening, an off-the-shoulder black fitted dress, did not disappoint. With embroidered flowers it emulated a ‘punk meets chic’ collaboration that was complemented by a striking smoky eye. The other eye-catching outfit was a simple, yet sophisticated women’s black pantsuit, perhaps inspired by Maria Grazia Chiuri’s Dior catwalk debut. The political theme was carried forward at the end of the slot where both male and female models held protest signs with captions stating: “women’s rights are human rights” echoing the recent Women’s march. The second category “The Great Dictator” opened with a midnight blue, well fitted suit accompanied by a crisp white shirt. This look has become a wardrobe staple for men. The standout menswear look came in the form of a modern-day twist on the 1920’s braces and bow-tie ensemble.
“...anticipation built from the audience as to how this would be translated onto the catwalk.”
Even if it appeared two sizes too small for the model that did not faze the audience who gave a strong round of applause, almost as strong as the model’s cheekbones. A Gatsby style black silk gown claimed the limelight on the womenswear side, accompanied by a wavy curl up-do and bold red lip.The show then turned its spotlights onto the matters of the social issues on racial inequality during the Black Civil Rights feature. Donald Trump made an appearance on the background footage as did a montage of the Black Lives Matter protests. The choices of clothing included the classic bomber jackets, floral jumpsuits and one beehive hairdo. While it was a demonstration for Black Lives Matter the circuit opened with a white model, which at first to a confused audience seemed odd, it indicated the show’s inclusion of a range of cultures and ethnicities. After the fashion display, an interlude performance by UCD student/hip-hop artist “JyellowL”, covered poet/rapper K’naan’s “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)”, which captured the emotion and activism ignited by the recent US Presidential Election.Mid-way through the show there was an injection of fun and vibrancy on the scout for the next Young Designer Award winner. Unapologetic yet playful designs and structured pieces caught the audience by surprise for all the right reasons. NCAD graduate Mairead Wall took the crown for the award taken from her Graduate Collection, a menswear textured ruby-rouge knitwear ensemble, completed with “Eire” sewn onto the cape and a knit headpiece. Following the win, Wall will now have the chance to showcase her pieces at Dublin boutique, Om Diva’s window display.
“While there were some standout outfits that had jaws dropping, as well as other things, on more than one occasion the clothes fell out of sync with the concept of the category. “
While there were some standout outfits that had jaws dropping, as well as other things, on more than one occasion the clothes fell out of sync with the concept of the category. The main offender here being Pride which opened the show after the interval. The footage that played behind the models featured Irish crowds as well as members of the UCD Student Union and LGBTQ+ Society marching for same-sex marriage equality in 2015. Unfortunately the outfits, the music, and the theme failed to correlate. Aside from a glitter beard and a double denim faux pas whipped straight from the early 2000s the only saving grace was a model who captured everyone’s attention from the moment she stepped onto the catwalk channelling all types of Lady Gaga vibes wearing platform heels that were at least 10” and a metallic blue jumpsuit. The final piece of the show was aptly coined “Age of Technology”, where the outfits were destined to give the audience a glimpse of the future of the technological age. With slicked back hair, bleached eyebrows and red eyes on the models that trudged the catwalk they captured the motif of ‘phone zombies’. The concept behind this category was of the apocalypse and downfall of humanity who cannot bear to tear themselves away from their technology. The last segment of the show ended on a powerful note with the models walking to the beat of Daft Punk’s ‘Technologic’.  In terms of clothing, black was the main protocol, matched with black lipstick which could be considered more goth than futuristic but we’ll take it. Overall, while it is understandable wanting to use wearable pieces to appeal to the larger audience, playing around with the themes and making the fashion statement to match the political statement are what make the shows memorable. The UCD Fashion Show delivered a strong deliverance in their aim to capture the spirit of important historical moments in terms of production.