Licentiate Column 02/06/11: Made In Cork

Cork Fashion Week is a bit of a misnomer. A fashion week is industry only. In Cork, shows are ticketed and open to all. The clothes you see on a runway are shown six months ahead of production. What you see in Milan in February, you won’t see in Brown Thomas until September. In Cork, what you see is already, or very soon to be manufactured. Fashion weeks are intense, fraught and cloaked in mystique, albeit a mystique that dissolves a little bit as each season passes.

In Cork, we take a much more leisurely pace. It’s both our idiosyncratic advantage and the perpetual pebble in our shoe.

It was with that in mind that I went to ‘Made in Cork: A Prequel to Cork Fashion Week’ in the Woodford Bar last Sunday. As I was waiting to go in, a possibly drunk, possibly homeless man tried to climb a tall, spiked, wrought-iron gate opposite the bar. He made a decent go of it, but impaled himself in the groin over two spikes and had to be lifted off the gate by a bartender and a slightly wobbly passer-by, who managed the whole procedure with a cigarette clamped between his teeth.

A Garda van pulled up, obscuring the view. Then, the sound of denim ripping and a very loud, sharp intake of breath. It was time to go inside. An inauspicious start in any circumstance.

I hoped that this wouldn’t be the marker for the event. Taking a seat inside the smoking area afforded the best views and elbow room, so that was where I sat myself, with a notebook, an unfortunate looking BIC pen and an endless supply of fizzy pop.

The crowd was a mix of models, photographers, fashion lovers and one small, very bored looking boy in Communion garb. Unlike London fashion week, where everyone is stressed beyond belief, the attendees looked genuinely happy. They were smiling, greeting each other with hugs, buying pints (of champagne), trading bon mots and making plans for the evening.

It was as if they were actually glad to be there (with the exception of Communion Boy, who had a pout that Andre Leon Talley would spontaneously combust with jealousy over). This is not the fashion week the world was used to. I was bamboozled. Pleasantly bamboozled.

The first half of the show was excellent. Trends were expertly curated. The preppy looks were a particular favourite – all white jeans and jumpers casually knotted over shoulders, ready for a game of tennis in the Hamptons. The vintage dress selection from Miss Daisy Blue was excellent as usual, with a mix of psychedelic print maxis, prom dress and LBDs that looked classically and contemporary.

It’s always good to see something grow and expand. I’m very proud to have been a witness of such growth from Cork Fashion Week’s inception. This September promises to be the most diverse and exciting Fashion Week yet.

Each year it gets a little bit bigger and, as Cork become even more creative and focused on fashion niches, the community at large adapts and rallies around it. Even if it’s something as ridiculous as lifting a stuck wino off a gate.

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