With The Designers Show at Norwich Fashion Week just over a week away, designers from across Norwich and Norfolk are putting the finishing touches to their catwalk collections. EMMA HARROWING reports.

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When Norwich designer Marian Eve Williams’s eight piece eco-friendly collection walked down the catwalk at The Designers Show last March, the stylish designs and couture-inspired silhouettes changed the perception of clothing with a green conscious. Quite what the inspirational designer will showcase at this year’s catwalk show is under wraps, but what is clear is that Marian’s collection will feature natural materials, dyes and processes that create one-off pieces set to wow the fashion crowd.

This year marks the third time Marian has showcased at Norwich Fashion Week. Back in 2010 when the first catwalk show took place in The Library restaurant, her designs were showcased alongside sets from other Norfolk designers, up and coming designers from City College Norwich and independent retailers.

Then last year The Designers Show was born. Organised by City College Norwich under the direction of the college’s enterprise events and projects coordinator Fiona Muller, The Designers Show brings together a collaboration of selected fashion and accessory designers and makers from across Norfolk alongside the next generation designers from the fashion and textile courses at City College Norwich, fashion students from Great Yarmouth College and emerging designers in bridal wear with the Bridal NEXT collection in conjunction with A Most Curious Wedding Fair.

Marian’s new collection will be joined by other Norwich and Norfolk designers all who are new to Norwich Fashion Week.

It promises to be an eclectic mix and already emerging trends are apparent.

Two knitwear designers aim to prove that knitwear has a place in our wardrobes all year round. An innovative crochet collection from Norwich designer Rodica Watkins’s Coridaknit label, said to be inspired by an English country garden through the seasons, and the first ready-to-wear collection from Norwich textile designer Sue Maton whose The Mercerie brand usually provides knitwear and accessories in the form of kits and downloadable patterns.

“The collection is called the 2013 DIY Collection,” says Sue. “It’s inspired by festival fashion and contemporary designers such as Romance was Born and Sibling knitwear.”

Another emerging trend is headwear. Hats were big news on the 2013 catwalks at London Fashion Week and, thanks to Norwich milliners Betsy Hatter and Wright & Revell, they look set to be a must-have accessory on the Norwich runway.

Both take inspiration from 1950s inspired design, but each interpretation for 2013 is uniquely different.

“The Betsy Hatter collection for Norwich Fashion Week is inspired by fairies, myth and legend,” says Betsy Hatter designer Siofra Connor. “The designs are based on the idea of how fairies would make hats if they were around in the 1950s, so the designs are based on nature and how people would often leave behind offerings for fairies such as ribbon.”

Wright & Revell designer Mandy Wright says: “The collection, called Curvilinear is inspired by 1950s art and design. This decade was an exciting time with a generation of designers embracing new ideas on form and pattern, and using new materials and technology in innovative ways. This influence has been applied to the collection which mixes vintage fabrics, plastic, metal and straw to add a witty twist.”

Menswear will be on The Designers Show catwalk for the first time, as Norwich designer Tom Hayden is set to showcase his contemporary tailored clothing brand Iron & Pin.

“My work is inspired by my childhood and there will be a collection of pieces at the show from shorts and trousers to handmade vests,” says Tom. “All my pieces in the collection are timeless so are not just for one season.”

The final designer in the line-up at The Designers Show was a finalist in last year’s next generation Bridal NEXT competition. Sophie Collins from Norwich set up bridal fashion brand Sophie & Smith after she finished studying fashion and textiles. If her collection at Bridal NEXT is anything to go by you can expect to see experimental bridal wear in muted colour palettes that mixes different textures, taking bridal wear to the next level.

The Designers Show takes place on Tuesday March 12 at Epic on Magdalen Street. Shows are at 2pm and 7pm. Tickets are £10 (£8 concessions) and are available from the Evening News shop, Prospect House, Rouen Road.

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