Ahead of the Great Yorkshire Show, Stephanie Smith highlights the work of the county’s talented up-and-coming designers.
One of the most surprising aspects for many new visitors to the Great Yorkshire Show is not the size of the tractors or the variety of pork sausages in the Food Hall (amazing though these are), but the prominence granted to fashion.
It’s a strand of the event that has grown in size and importance for several years now, to the extent that there is a special dedicated fashion pavilion which stages four catwalk shows a day, on all three days, and features a wide variety of designers from high-end prestigious national brands to up-and-coming local students.
Every show is packed, every seat taken and it’s standing room only at the back – even when it’s not raining. The clothes are modelled by a team of professional male and female models from Huddersfield-based Morton-Gledhill, The Fashion Team, with the show styled, choreographed and organised by its owner, Bernadette Gledhill. Audiences are always delighted and frequently impressed.
This year luxury lingerie fitters and retailers Rigby & Peller will debut, as will countrywear specialists Barbour and Max Mara, all fabulous feathers in the GYS cap. Also on the catwalk will be show favourites Hobbs and Keighley-based menswear company Brook Taverner, among other fantastic names.
Alongside them will be collections from students and graduates from Hull College, Harrogate College and Northallerton College. Student designs are an important part of the mix and audiences often reserve their loudest and most appreciative whoops and cheers for the college collections.
It’s an excellent platform for young designers, as Annabel Smith, lecturer at Harrogate College, says. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to showcase their work. Most of them are local so it’s really important to be seen as a local designer.”
This year’s crop of GYS student designers is bursting with talent and creativity, and some of their work has already won awards. And it’s not just fashion students as the hair and make-up are created for the catwalk by students from Bradford College – invaluable experience for them, and a great example of colleges working together as a team across Yorkshire. Student fashion can attract a reputation for being irritatingly outrageous and unwearable, but sometimes, that is precisely the point. We need our young people to push the boundaries, to explore new avenues, to kick against the established way and turn it upside down.
This applies especially to fashion and it’s a habit many internationally renowned designers never grow out of, regarding it as their job to surprise, outrage, make points, encourage thought and, above all, attract attention. It’s funny how, within a couple of years, what once seemed ridiculous has actually become part of the mainstream.
So hats off, and wellies on, to the Great Yorkshire Show for continuing to provide a platform for the county’s young fashion talent and supporting its right to take a valued place alongside the established fields of agriculture and business.
The Great Yorkshire Show takes place from July 8-10 at the Harrogate Showground. There will be four runway shows each day in the Skipton Building Society Fashion Pavilion.
• Designs by Hull School of Art and Design (www.hull-college.ac.uk); Harrogate School of Art and Design (www.harrogate.ac.uk) and Northallerton College (www.northallertoncollege.org.uk).
Location: Leeds Industrial Museum, Armley Mills, Leeds. Photographs: Doug Jackson Photography. Hair and Make-up: Bradford College. Models: Morton Gledhill, The Fashion Team.