Stephanie Smith takes her seat on the front row of the Harvey Nichols Leeds autumn/winter fashion show with local celebrities and TV actors. Pictures by Contakt Photography.
Back in 1996, Harvey Nichols opened the doors of its very first store outside of London, in Leeds, choosing the city over rivals after identifying that its people not only had the all-important fashion factor, but were also primed and prepared to spend their hard-earned cash on looking their best by investing in world-class designer brands.
Flash forward 18 years and the twice-yearly Harvey Nichols Leeds fashion show has established itself as a major highlight of the city’s social calendar, employing the UK’s top models and attracting style-seekers and label lovers from across Yorkshire and beyond.
The catwalk is one of the grand aisles of the Victoria Quarter, and the HN show prides itself on being able to offer all of its guests the chance to be a FROWer – front row attendee – as it presents scene after scene of designer names unparalleled outside of the capital.
More than 500 guests attended this year’s autumn/winter show, and as ever, it was a diverse audience, as fashion-and-beauty mad teens and students mingled with trend-conscious local business leaders, actors from Emmerdale and sporting personalities. This is the place to be seen and snapped.
It was a massive show, featuring a team of 15 models in five scenes, so 75 outfits in all. Menswear is an increasingly important element for Harvey Nichols and this autumn’s show devoted a third of its time and energy to men’s fashion and accessories.
First out was Sports Luxe and Craftwork, featuring pared-down, streetwise looks, giving way to statement prints and embellished naive-style pieces. Luxury was key to both, with shine and texture, from designers including Victoria, by Victoria Beckham, Stella McCartney, Valentino, Givenchy and Mary Katranzou.
Then came the Mods & Rockers and Come Outside sets, where retro urban wear blended with outerwear, with coats and jackets from Burberry London, McQ, Karl Lagerfeld, Dolce & Gabbana and others.
The Monochrome and Get Knitted scene showed off the season’s wearably sleek black-and-white trend, and featured all-important statement knitwear, taking its rightful place in contemporary dressing.
Check It Out underlined this season’s emphasis on checks and squares of all kinds, blending both matching and mismatching looks (my favourite was the Maje shirt ensemble, one shirt worn and one tied round the waist – a snappy way to sell two of the same).
The final scene, in keeping with catwalk tradition, was Evening, which turned to the dark and mysterious side of autumn/winter with black shine plus flashes of red, pewter and gold in rich brocades and oil-slick iridescence.
Russell Eaton created the hair, inspired by the strong origami looks championed recently on the runways of Fendi, with sleek ponytails with hidden folds and clean sections – a must-have look for this season. The make-up was by Charlotte Tilbury, pairing string smokey eyes and brows with lips in russet and tawny pink.
As ever with the Harvey Nichols shows, FROW-ers, especially the young ones, are eager to see the hair and make-up looks, aware that this is one of the few shows outside London where you can see the country’s top models prepped by award-winning hair and make-up artists. Even if you could afford only a £16 lipliner (the cheapest item on the catwalk), this was a festival of fashion inspiration.