Every once in a while I’m asked to talk about all things fashion and digtial at a conference or at an event, and I gladly accept. But when the request came in from the 2012 Clothes Show Live, I was properly thrilled. That’s because to those of us of a certain age, The Clothes Show was a TV programme, not a live event, and it shaped the way an entire generation thought about fashion. In its heyday, its most famous hosts were Jeff banks, Selina Scott and the legendary fashion powerhouse that is Caryn Franklin, and to this day their stint on The Clothes Show remains pretty much the only credible time that fashion – and the fashion industry – was presented on British television.
Launched in 1986, it was an early evening Sunday night magazine format, which dipped all over the place, from designer’s studios to reportage, and it was loved. And I think it’s fair to say that for many people of my age it was the catalyst to a career in fashion. (When The Clothes Show theme tune – an excerpt from the Arthur Baker remix of the Pet Shop Boys’ song In The Night – was used all the way through last month’s Vodafone/BFC Fashion Quiz, you could tell who grew up with the TV programme by the way they bopped in their seats with nostalgic glee.)
In 1989 The Clothes Show launched a spinoff: Clothes Show Live, which has become the UK’s largest fashion and beauty event, showcasing everything from vintage fashion to contemporary boutiques to 120,000 people over five days at the Birmingham NEC. You can shop from over 500 fashion and beauty brands, be styled, watch a fashi0n spectacular hosted by Henry Holland and Grace Woodward in the Suzuki Fashion Theatre, listen to talks from fashion experts and, if you are in school or college, sit in on industry education seminars helmed by Caryn Franklin, with advice on how to have a career in all areas of the fashion industry, from illustration to publishing, and visit showcases from 35 colleges and universities.
I was booked to appear on the Nelly.com Style Studio to be interviewed about blogging by the lovely and glamorous TV presenter Laura Jackson on the opening day, and to sit on one of Caryn’s panels.
I think it’s fair to say that as someone who was both glued to the original TV show, and who actually visited Clothes Show Live as it used to be known over fifteen years ago on my GAP year, the fact that I was actually speaking at the show as a fashion expert was just the most incredible thing. Caryn Franklin is just the most inspirational and extraordinary women (look up her work with industry initiative All Walks Beyond the Catwalk to promote and celebrate the use of a more diverse range of models in fashion imagery), and I was honoured to work with her
The Clothes Show will be back next year at the Birmingham NEC
(Here’s lovely Laura Jackson with her Cambridge Satchel in the VIP room before our slot.)