On Thursday November 26, Age UK Gateshead hosted their first winter catwalk show at the Marriott Hotel, Metro Centre and I was there to help out on the night!
To my surprise I was given the huge role as the stylist and backstage manager. This was really exciting because the night was already set to be a big success, as Age UK had local famous faces involved, with Gateshead FC footballers starring as the male models and Heart radio’s Tom Campbell as the presenter.
Tom Campbell seemed particularly excited in the run up to the show as he told me: “It’s going to be a great event that is a very different, yet successful, way of supporting the charity. When I was asked to be the host it was a no brainer!”
I arrived at the Gateshead shop early afternoon before the show. The volunteer team and myself transferred the outfits over to the Marriott hotel ready for the show. This proved to be difficult, as there was more garments than anticipated and they struggled to fit into two cars; we had to literally sit on them to be able to close the boot.
After the initial panic that my Fiat Punto was not big enough to hold all the garments, I finally got to the venue and it was time to put all the outfits in running order in preparation for the show. The models arrived shortly after I did, and the Marriott suddenly turned into a panic station for a few hours while we made sure everyone had the right outfits before doing a dress rehearsal.
Several run-throughs later, we were feeling confident about the night ahead of us and we all scoffed a takeaway to calm our nerves. The audience quickly started to arrive and it was almost show time; and what a fantastic show it was!
The whole show revolved around winter fashion and each collection on the catwalk had a different vibe. Matalan was the main high-street retailer involved with the event and the first collection to go on stage, they featured both male and female fashion with a ‘work vs play’ theme.
On the night, the catwalk also featured local boutiques such as BRM studio; a vintage inspired brand, the Trend Fashion; a trendy boutique, and Hotspur 1364; a menswear clothing store.
Celebrity inspired dress company, Fash1 made a debut on the catwalk and I spoke to the owner, Imogen Mitchell, who said: “The event is much bigger than I expected, and having my boutique displayed on the catwalk and involved with the raffle prizes is really exciting and I am very proud.”
During the weeks leading up to the evening, I attended fittings with the models, which involved picking outfits, including some rather hilarious ones that didn’t quite make the catwalk unfortunately! I worked with the other volunteers to create a playlist for the night, a highlight of which was Sexy Back by Justin Timberlake which played during the Humbug collection; an independent menswear store, and we were sure it would help the footballers relax into the catwalk atmosphere.
This definitely worked as Gateshead footballer and model, Sam Russell, told me: “The show has been a brilliant laugh, but done in a professional manner for a fantastic cause. We all look amazing, which is a bonus.”
Throughout the night my role backstage was to direct the dressing of all the models and ensure they were ready on time for their catwalk appearance. Although the dressing room was tiny, the show went on and I worked extremely hard alongside a hair and makeup team to make all of the models look amazing before their big appearances. I managed to sneak into the audience at one point during the show so that I could see the finished product of all my hard work.
The audience has the opportunity to shop the catwalk at the pop up stalls and there was a raffle where audience members won prizes such as afternoon tea at the Cat Cafe, a family Alnwick Castle voucher and £100 As You Like It restaurant voucher.
I was determined to win the £100 voucher so in an ambitious attempt I bought seven raffle tickets. I didn’t win, however the raffle did get off to a hilarious start when Ian, a bald audience member, won a cut and blow dry!
The night ended with a collection of outfits from Age UK’s very own charity shop in Gateshead. Musicians’ Miles Taylor and Pete Reilly, who had performed throughout the show, introduced the last collection by preforming a beautiful cover of Ed Sheeran.
In the finale I was invited on stage, being careful not to trip over, for a round of applause and I noticed that every audience member had huge smile on their face.
I spoke to Suziee Cassels, the event co-ordinator on the night, who said: “Overall the show ran smoothly and we had a fantastic audience. Over 100 tickets were sold and the funds raised will go towards helping the elderly to stay happy and warm this winter. The success of the show is really encouraging and we hope to host a similar event next winter.”
It was an extremely proud night, and although volunteering is hard work, when it’s in the industry you want a career in, it is definitely worth it!