High hopes for Norwich Fashion Week

The buzz has only just died down from the first Norwich Fashion Week but now all eyes are on what fashions will be shown at the next event in September. Norwich Fashion Week organisers Anita Vadhir and Jayne Raffles talk to Emma Harrowing.

What started as a business meeting turned into a passion for fashion when owner of independent fashion retailer Vanilla, Anita Vadhir and owner of Raffles Restaurants (and notably) The Library Restaurant, Jayne Raffles got together to discuss how they could drum up business for the year ahead.

The meeting gave way to a seed of an idea to celebrate local independent fashion and to put Norwich on the fashion map. The idea blossomed and Norwich Fashion Week was born.

'The initial idea for Norwich Fashion Week came from Vanilla stylist Louise Lace and when I suggested the idea to Jayne we were full of ideas on how to make this into the fashion event of the year for the city,' says Anita.

'Norwich has a wealth of talented fashion retailers and designers from the independents and the high street retailers to up-and-coming fashion designers and retailers who are currently doing courses at City College Norwich, the Retail Skills Academy and the city's universities. Then there are all the talented hair and makeup artists. It's the chance to showcase the work of all of those working in fashion.'

Anita set up Vanilla on Ipswich Road in May 1995 and the boutique on Sprowston Road was opened five years later and is currently celebrating its 10-year anniversary.

For the first Norwich Fashion Week back in February this year The Library restaurant became the main venue for the launch night catwalk show and many other events taking place throughout the week including the vintage tea party and trend presentations.

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'For autumn and winter's Norwich Fashion Week The Library will be hosting several events throughout the week, one of which will be a bigger and better vintage day,' says Jayne.

'The decision to make the launch party show bigger by holding it in a bigger venue was down to the tremendous response we received from the spring and summer launch.'

Details of what events will be taking place throughout the week are still very much under wraps, but a launch party, a vintage fair and fashion show and events to highlight the hidden fashions of Norwich's independent shops will be part of the programme.

If the spring and summer Norwich Fashion Week is anything to go by the second Norwich Fashion Week will be an event not to be missed. Back in February we were given a taste as to how much talent our city has when it comes to fashion. From fashion designers to new talent from City College Norwich to fashion photography to the many independent fashion retailers, Norwich proved that it can offer fashion with flair.

For the independent retailers and local designers who took part in the first Norwich Fashion Week the event was an amazing success.

Roberta Pumer from Ethika on Timberhill stocks many of the designs from the local designers who showcased on the catwalk. Says Roberta: 'Norwich Fashion Week gave us the opportunity to showcase the exceptional local talent championed by Ethika. For our designers it was the chance to show their work on the catwalk and receive well deserved recognition.'

David Finlay from independent men's clothing retailer Elements on Lower Goat Lane agrees: 'Norwich Fashion Week is a fantastic event and it has a lot of potential to grow as more retailers get on board with this celebration of independent fashion in Norwich. Everyone needs to get involved with the next Norwich Fashion Week.'

The first Norwich Fashion Week proved to be just the beginning. Once the catwalk was taken down and the retailers went back to their day jobs and the designers began working on commissions, Anita and Jayne began working behind the scenes to bring Norwich Fashion Week back with a bang.

'Norwich Fashion Week brought a buzz of excitement to the city at such a dull time of the year,' says Jayne. 'It's the ideal opportunity for Norwich retailers and businesses to organise their own events under the Norwich Fashion Week banner and take part in other events throughout the week.'

Adds Anita: 'The main ethos of Norwich Fashion Week is to celebrate fashion in Norwich and improve the links between business and education. The event has attracted a lot of interest from independent businesses and large retailers, as well as City College and the Retail Skills Academy which will provide the opportunity for businesses to work together to create a superb event.'

If you or your business is interested in taking part in the autumn/winter Norwich Fashion Week you can register your interest at the Norwich Fashion Week website www.eveningnews24.co.uk/nfw

To find out more about how you can become part of the Norwich Fashion Week modelling team and be in with a chance of winning a modelling contract with Powermodel Management, click on the link in the top right hand column.