Chester designer Matthew O Brien’s fashion show at Chester Cathedral on Friday night raised nearly £3000 for the Babygrow appeal and Meningitis Research Foundation. Matthew who was voted Britain’s Top Designer at London fashion week in 2013, aged just 22 , held the event to mark the first birthday of his Rufus Court shop and studio.
The first ever fashion show to be held in the atmospheric Cathedral was an eye opener for me, with my only prior fashion show experience being a TJ Hughes display held in the far less impressive Forum shopping centre in the mid 2000s.My blogging companion was also more used to high street fashion than the haute couture on display on the night. With fashion rarely a feature of the Chester cultural scene, this felt like an event that initially didn’t belong in lowly Chester.
There was a real buzz as the bold and beautiful guests gathered in the Cathedral chapter house sipping on prosecco , listening to Ashley Fayth perform and soaking up the unique atmosphere. The runway trailed down the south transept overlooked by the Cathedral organ with guests either side of a simple white carpet. The ambiance was boosted by the lighting which kept the rest of the area in darkness and simple decoration including lilac trees which suggested the them of emerging new life.
Before the show Matthew explained that his reasoning for championing the charities chosen to benefit as well as praising all the local businesses who had been involved in putting on the show. The designer said that his uncle had died at a young age from meningitis and that his family had also had a lot of babies cared for at the Young Baby unit at the Countess, so both charities were close to his heart. He acknowledged the support of Rebecca Jayne makeup, Denise Duke hairdressing and other independent traders as well as the Cathedral themselves for adding such prestige to the event, saying that “never has this been done before.”
For someone who has never attended a real fashion show before it was a fascinating spectacle, as official press photographers flashed their cameras at the end of the runway and everyone else held up their phones in wonder. Even for someone who knew nothing about fashion it was a real spectacle.
After the show Matthew again praised the fantastic support on the night and his plans to develop a Chester fashion week and also to expand his shop into a vacant unit next door. “I think the city’s on the up and on the change completely. I think there’s always been a scene here, but things are evolving now, with the new development at Storyhouse along with this whole Northgate area. There isn’t anyone else doing what I’m doing and in the last year its been going really well. I want to support the students, the university has started a fashion course and that goes hand in hand with what I’m trying to do”
A memorable evening and up there with one of the coolest blog assignments of the last 4 years. Things like this just weren’t happening 4 years ago!
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