Fashion and the city: Leeds set to become giant catwalk this spring

The Fashion Space returns to Leeds as part of the upcoming International Festival, with catwalks galore and big names heading to the city. Fashion Editor Stephanie Smith reports.

Sadie Williams's AW18 collection. She will appear in Leeds to discuss her work and career. Picture: Babyliss Pro.
Sadie Williams's AW18 collection. She will appear in Leeds to discuss her work and career. Picture: Babyliss Pro.

Leeds city centre will be transformed into a giant catwalk this spring to showcase some of the biggest fashion names on the High Street plus independent stores, renowned designers and the pick of the best student work in Yorkshire.

A star attraction will be York-based designer Matty Bovan, who turned model last weekend at Paris Fashion Week when he walked for the Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood AW18 show.

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Bovan, 27, has been hailed the “great bright hope” of British fashion as a new, true English eccentric design genius in the tradition of Zandra Rhodes and Westwood herself. His work features vibrant colour clashes, wild prints and fresh, unusual reworkings of both traditional and contemporary crafting techniques, from felting and crochet to digital printing.

A graduate of Central Saint Martins, he works from a studio created in the garage of the York home of his parents, Nick and Plum, with whom he collaborates on jewellery pieces. He was taught to knit and crochet by his grandmother and his first solo show at London Fashion Week last month was presented in tribute to her and the North York Moors.

Bovan, a friend and admirer of Vivienne Westwood and her husband, Andreas Kronthaler, joined models on the Paris runway on Saturday to show off a selection of Kronthaler creations. Previously, Bovan has presented in London as part of young designer incubator Fashion East. He will be taking part in Leeds International Festival this spring when he joins Fashion East’s Lulu Kennedy for an “in conversation with” event at the Spiegeltent in Millennium Square on May 4.

The Fashion Space catwalks will appear on Briggate from April 28. Event director Cathy Dickson of Cabba said: “The idea of a converted shipping container in the centre of Leeds on a busy weekend was to provide a space that offered people a rarely seen insight into the fashion industry.”

Programme highlights include free runway shows from High Street retailers to be held on Saturdays, April 28 and May 5, from independents on Sunday, April 29, and from fashion course graduates on Sunday, May 6.

April 30: 5.15-6.30pm, North: Fashioning Identity, with co-curator Adam Murray exploring how the north of England is depicted, constructed and celebrated in photographs, artworks and fashion collections. Tickets: £5

May 1: Christopher Raeburn Off Cut Animal Workshop 11am-4pm. The designer will be bringing his legendary off-cut animal workshop to Leeds where participants will make the city’s mascot, the Owl, with fabric by AW Hainsworth. Tickets: £100. Later, Christopher Raeburn Off Cut T-Shirt Workshop: 5.45-8pm. An opportunity for less experienced sewers to develop creative skills. Tickets: £40.

May 2: 5.45-7pm. Sadie Williams – Bright Young Thing. One of the British Fashion Council’s NewGen’s ones to watch, she will talk about her progression from her Central St Martin’s MA to international success. Tickets: £5

May 3: In Conversation with Claudia Croft, British Vogue, who will discuss her curation of an exhibition from the Marks & Spencer company archives. Tickets: £5

May 4: 4.15-6.30pm. In Conversation with Fashion East at Leeds International Festival Spiegeltent, Millennium Square. Lulu Kennedy with alumni designers Matty Bovan, Per Götesson, Mimi Wade and Art School. Tickets: £10.

For further details and tickets for all the Leeds International Festival events, which are on sale now, go to the festival website,

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