By Anna Gibbs
The most striking aspect of the Van Mildert Charity Fashion Show, in aid of the North East Autism Society, was indeed the electric atmosphere, appropriate to the #AcceptableInThe80s ‘Electric Dreams’ theme.
Notable from the start was the excellent inclusivity and diversity in the model casting- as always, an important and admirable streak which sets Mildert apart from the other college fashion shows every year. Perhaps it was due to this relaxed and forward-thinking approach that you could tell that both the models and the audience were having a good time, with audience members on their feet for much of the latter half (mysteriously coinciding with when the boys had their tops off).
The vibe permeating the Ann Dobson hall was one far more inclusive of the audience whilst less poncy and peacocky than the traditional Durham format can sadly be. The friendly community feel meant that it was impossible not to smile along with everyone else in the room as the models strode onto the platform.
Mildert provided a range of high-quality entertainment throughout the show, with musicians and dance performances dispersed well amongst the walks, although the themes of the separate walks themselves were often not made particularly clear.
Following on from the very successful art theme of last year, at points, there were strong graphics displayed on the two screens accompanying the catwalk. More of this promising element would have been welcomed, especially with such a colourful theme as the 80s. This was also an opportunity not quite fulfilled in the clothes department – where were the Adam Ant-esque white stripes of face paint?
The theme in both music and dress was inconsistent and less impressive in comparison to the 2017 show, however this year the atmosphere was perhaps a little livelier, which helped to make up for this.
The quality of the individual outfits themselves was diluted a little through the use of so many models, meaning that the few standout outfits throughout the show were almost drowned out by quite dull concoctions at times. It was at time unclear where all of the clothes were from, though some of the outfits at the beginning reminded me of the clothes everyone bundled together for work experience in year eleven.
However, the quality of the clothes picked up as the show progressed, with highlights including the prom dresses and the sportswear. The block colour swimming costumes rivalled those from the much larger budgeted DUCFS, and the lacy underwear sets were exquisite.
At the end of the day, the Van Mildert show never pretends to be comparable to one at London Fashion Week – the main focus is the chosen charity, the light-hearted community atmosphere and ensuring that everyone has a memorable night out and in these respects, the team behind the event certainly succeeded. If the creative aspect suffers a tad in return, so be it, it was nonetheless a wonderful and highly charismatic night.
Photographs: Huw Thomas