Fashion sometimes attracts a reputation for being all about vanity and frivolity, at least in the eyes of those who fail to see its importance as a platform for creative and cultural endeavour, for technical and manufacturing expertise and, of course, for retail enterprise by both small and large brands across the country.
But, whatever you think about trends, there is no denying that the catwalk can be a force for good, and never more so than when it comes to using the glamour of the runway to raise money for a good cause.
Rachel Cheshire, from Monk Fryston, near Selby, is busy putting the finishing touches to a charity ball that she is staging in aid of the Leeds-based Charlies-Angel-Centre Foundation, which was founded in 2012 by Ruth Curtis and her family after the death of little Charlie Curtis. It aims to raise awareness of the needs of bereaved parents and families and to make sure every parent leaves hospital with a after-care plan in place and full support networks.
Rachel, who owns cheese wedding cake company Celebration Cheeses and is an events manager, presenter, model and actor (as well as mum to Violet, 15 months), became involved in 2017 after she and her husband, Matt, lost their baby daughter Lillia, Violet’s sister, at birth. “Essentially you’re given some leaflets and sent home without your child,” she said.
Charlies-Angel-Centre Foundation helps families to rebuild their lives after the loss of a baby or child, and its free services include online information, bereavement counselling, telephone and email support, bereavement packs and working with professionals to provide the best bereavement care. It hopes to set up a bereavement centre that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for information, counselling and support.
A ball to help raise funds for this takes place on Thursday at Aspire in Leeds (and there are still tickets available). The fashion show will be a key element and Rachel, who has many years of experience in Yorkshire’s fashion industry, has managed to gather together an impressive group of local retailers and designers to showcase their new collections on the catwalk, helped by a team of models, stylists and make-up artists.
To preview the show, she also gathered together some of the models and brands to take part in an exclusive Yorkshire Post fashion shoot at the Bells Leeds, a luxury apartment conversion on Church Row overlooking Leeds Minster. Originally called Kirkgate House, it was built in 1888 as part of the minster estate. During the Second World War, it was used as a club by the Market District Boys Club. From 1963 until the late 1980s, it was used by Leeds City Council, then fell into disrepair until it was bought by its current owners in 2014 and fully restored by 2017, converted into seven luxury serviced apartments, which can be rented out by the night. The arresting contemporary decor, original features, state-of-the-art kitchens, inspired artwork, balconies, hot tubs and city views made for a fabulous backdrop for our shoot.
Accent Clothing in Leeds showcased both formal and casual ranges for men and women. “This season, womenswear has taken on a fun approach to occasion wear,” says womenswear buyer Jessica Gore. “Don’t be surprised to see exotic fruits, animals and unusual floral prints on some of the most sophisticated designs of dresses. Be prepared for bright and bold. The brighter the better – in fact, neon is the star of the season.”
Denim is a key part of fashion and of Accent’s collection. “Skinny jeans are still the leaders but waist lines are high,” says Jessica. “Team with heels to extend the legs and dress up with this season’s fun florals. For the more casual look, stray over to the pastel world and add a touch of sport luxe. Trainers are still the must-have in a range of pastel hues and make your mark with bold graphic or logo tees.”
When it comes to spring/summer 2019 menswear, there’s a lot of bright colour across the board, says Accent’s menswear buyer Jack Schneider. “Fun Hawaiian shirts are also a must, with a very Sixties resort-style collar,” he says, adding: “We see a lot of technical, sporty fabrics featuring, again in brighter daring colours. However, don’t be surprised to see splashes of more free-flowing and classic linen.”
For special occasions, Jack recommends a bold check three-piece, like the one featured here, and for a smart-casual look, a blazer in a bold colour with trousers or jeans and casual shoes or smarter trainers.
Hats come courtesy of the legendary Eleda Hats, of Guiseley, which was founded by Adele Woodrow (Eleda is Adele backwards) and creates beautiful headwear for clients across the UK for races, weddings and special occasions. “The big hat is coming back,” says Adele. “The little fascinators, people aren’t bothering with any more. They also go with the pillboxes that all the royals wearing.”
There’s a lot of natural and biscuit tones about, she says, as well as classic black and white, gunmetals, silver, copper and rose gold. “We do hats bespoke to the outfit. We pull out the components that are in the outfit and put it up into the hat – if they have diamanté around the waist, we introduce that.”
A hat can be a contrast or accent colour or it can tone. “Personally I like the same colour because it elongates a woman’s length,” says Adele .
Also featured are the Bridal Emporium in Leeds, Bucktrout Tailoring in Leeds, jewellery by Azendi in Leeds and lingerie by Rigby & Peller in Harrogate. The models were Lydia Louisa, the show’s producer and choreographer; Polina Sharma, the photographer who will capture the event; Jack Brindle, a tribute performer; and Adam Ullah, a professional model with Boss.
Charlie’s Ball in aid of Charlies-Angel-Centre Foundation is on Thursday March 14 at Aspire on Infirmary Street, Leeds, starting at 6.45pm, with red carpet, champagne reception, three-course dinner, cabaret, fashion show, auction and disco. Email [email protected] and visit https://www.charlies-angel-centre.org.uk/
Bells Serviced Apartments, www.thebellsleeds.com
Rachel’s company Celebration Cheeses is on CelebrationCheeses.com