> Rebecca Day goes behind the scenes at this season’s Bristol Fashion Week to investigate on what the must-have items are for this Autumn/Winter…

Fashion, I’d say, predominates quite largely in the life of a student. Who can officially say that they can literally reach into their wardrobe (or under their bed) and throw on the first thing that comes to hand? If you’re agreeing, then I have the greatest respect for you. Students are constantly wanting to be in the know about the latest trends, and what’s going to get their fellow friends swooning over their outfits or have them literally reaching for the sick bucket. Personally, I think if you want to parade around campus in a pink frilly tutu, then who is there to stop you? Certainly not the Fashion Police!

Because of my sheer interest in fashion, I decided to go behind the scenes at this season’s Bristol Fashion Week at The Mall at Cribbs Causeway, to find out what will be the must-have items for this Autumn/Winter. If you have been in awe over the recent trends fashioned at the prestigious London and Milan Fashion Weeks, then Mark Heyes is the man to offer you that affordable, alternative option. If you’re wondering who Mark Heyes is, then you most certainly haven’t watched Lorraine on ITV! He’s crowned as one of Britain’s most trusted stylist and has worked with the likes of Lady Gaga and other inspirational celebrities. He has performed miracles on women who have been seeking a transformation and has really turned their lives around for the better. When meeting with the man himself, his clear kindness and eye for fashion soon became apparent. He kindly propped open his laptop and showed me through an awe-inspiring slide show of what I was going to be seeing during the fashion show. The way he’d found cheaper alternatives of designer outfits from Givenchy, Chloe and Chanel, was simply astonishing and just goes to show that you don’t need to splash out big time to look like you’ve just stepped off the catwalk. “It looks just like Dolce & Gabbana, but with a zero knocked off the price tag!” exclaims Mark.

Not only did Mark give me a fantastic insight as to what to expect in the show, but he also gave me some valuable tips that I just had to share in this feature.

“Combining bright colours with deeper shades is definitely in-fitting with this season”, says Mark. “This is absolutely ideal for students who have splashed out this summer on brightly coloured items of clothing – now they can just take those bright, summery items down a notch with mixing in a few neutral shades here and there.”

Looking back, fashion has always played quite an influential part in my life. Do you remember those brightly coloured trainers and the tracksuit bottoms with poppers down the side? Of course you do and no doubt that’s probably a moment in your life you’d rather forget. But I love looking back on the photographs of me dressed in those horrific outfits and remembering how cool I felt at the time. You never know, with fashion repeating itself so consistently, they may even come back in again at some point!

The fashion world has most certainly taken a step back in time, bringing forth trends such as ‘Mod Squad’ and the ‘Outrageous 80’s’. You’ve no doubt had that conversation with your parents when they claim that they literally had the exact same item of clothing ‘back in the day’!  Well yes, they most probably did and what better way to save money than taking that trip up into the attic and discovering their old hidden gems. Charity and vintage shops are also the prime places to pick up items that reflect the latest trends – fur coats and tweed jackets are literally dominating the coat rails as well as the catwalks at the moment.  “Coloured tights will be huge this Autumn/Winter, as well as the Peter Pan collar”, says Mark “and saffron is definitely going to be the ‘in’ colour this season.”

The 12th Bristol Fashion Show was an array of models of all different ages and sizes – it was a relief to see a show which didn’t just consist of just young, size zero models. “This show is all about making fashion accessible to everyone”, says Mark. Mark Heyes combined the pieces put forward from retailers at The Mall at Cribbs Causeway to promote glamorous trends from ‘Countryside Heritage’ to ‘LA Glam’, and ‘Fetish Chic’ to ‘Masculine Tailoring’. There were fashions from the likes of H&M, French Connection, River Island, and (now don’t go screwing your nose up) Marks and Spencer. The models paraded down the catwalk against backdrops of intriguing beauty – one in particular was scene five, where teal and turquoise items of clothing were fashioned against a beautiful peacock-inspired background. Teals are a great way to warm up the skin tone”, explains Mark (great advice for me considering I have the palest complexion!).

The male models (and what they were wearing of course) also featured hugely throughout. Scene five saw Republic establishing a ‘street’ vibe, bringing forth the chequered shirts and wintry boots. I’m afraid to say it’s time to put those espadrilles and flip flops to the back of the wardrobe boys, as the Desert and Military boot are making a significant comeback this season . Teaming them up with a pair of chinos or brightly coloured jeans is most definitely the look to be pulling off this Autumn/Winter. Sleek suits made of shiny fabrics also appears to be the  ‘in’ look for this season – ideal for any Christmas parties or functions which are looming ahead. 

Accompanying Mark on the show was prestigious hair stylist Andrew Barton. “It’s time to get back out those heated rollers, because the beehive is back!” He also went on to explain how it’s all about “shocking hair colours” this season. That’s right! The pink hair flashes are indeed, making a comeback… Christina Aguilera style!

Whilst meeting with Mark backstage, he also shed some light on getting into the fashion industry and I asked him whether he had any good advice to offer students who were looking at taking that particular career path.
“It was all just down to pure luck”, explains Mark. “No one knew what a stylist was when I was 18, so there was hardly any competition out there to become one.”

The fashion guru himself attended the Glasgow School of Art and worked at several Scottish news papers. Mark then moved to London, where he landed a job working for Channel 4 on the show ‘She’s Got to Have it’.
“If you want to get somewhere in life, you need to be prepared to work your bloody arse off!” says Mark Heyes “and you have to be prepared to work for free.” He also expressed his infuriation on how national publications can’t function without work experience or voluntary help from students.
“It absolutely sickens me!” exclaims Mark, “sometimes though, it’s all about just swallowing your pride and getting on with it.”

Mark Heyes did an absolutely fabulous job at finding alternative look-a-like items from the high street, to make following catwalk trends more accessible to the people of Bristol, and his insight into the fashion industry was truly remarkable, as well as inspiring. The Mall at Cribbs Causeway offers a range of high street and designer shops but there’s always the option of finding similar, and more unique items in one of Bristol’s many charity or vintage shops that lace its independent streets.

I think Bristol is a fantastic place to express yourself, and what better way to do it than going all out this season on the latest trends. Who cares if you look like you’ve just stepped out of the changing room of Ann Summers, or just strolled off the set of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? No one does – Bristol’s all about being unique! So go on, get on your glad rags and hit the streets in true ‘Bristol Fashion’ style!

Rebecca Day