Trying to Rekindle the Heyday, or, ‘Doncaster College’s Fashion Show 2010’

30 May

Everything was set to be an utter disaster.  After an unsuccessful fitting the day before, an outfit with about as much visibility as having your contact lenses coated in Tippex, and Stevie making his arrival folded less than elegantly into the back seat of a convertible Peugeot 206, I can’t say I was overly optimistic about our success as a designer/model dream team in this year’s end-of-year fashion show.  As I waited outside Doncaster Dome, occasionally catching a whiff of the sweating men making their way out of its rather sanguinely named ‘fitness village’, my worry about donning the ‘cone of doom’ was rapidly mounting, and I was regretting not downing an unhealthy dose of tranquilisers to get me through the inevitable horror before leaving the house.  Little did I know how truly unnecessary my anxieties were; Stevie Hockaday, after a bit of a strop and many an hour seated at a sewing machine, had created a masterpiece, and I really hope he wasn’t joking about establishing the ‘Haus of Cone’ based upon it.

I’m getting ahead of myself though.  Once we had both arrived at the aforementioned Dome, the moment of truth took place. Did the cone fit??? A last minute hip-alteration had left us both greatly concerned that my rather sizeable ones were no longer going to fit into the bottom half of this outfit:

Stevie's original designs.

To Stevie’s relief, and my lack of expected embarrassment, with a little bit of breathing in, I was zipped into it with ease, and it was a totally perfect fit, if you can accept the fact that most of your ass is on show to the world. Which, surprisingly, as it turned out, I could.  Euphoria ensued, and we both settled ourselves down for a lengthy wait until the dress rehearsal, with a charming Phoebe Philo interview and plenty of first year fashion BA gossip to keep us occupied.  Both of us tried to ignore the elephant in the room: how to see through a cone of fabric, held up at arm height, well enough to walk down a catwalk, walk back up a catwalk, join a procession of other models, and successfully make it down some stairs without falling over and breaking my face and dignity.

We were faced with three options: counting steps and following a straight line on the ceiling, having a male escort to grab me around the waist and steer me away from certain broken bones, or some sort of cone trickery that would enable vision.  A combination of the first two was seemingly like the most plausible option, whilst also being the most risky, as the dress rehearsal proved.  After ignoring the ‘no news is good news’ principle, and panicking when I heard no words of warning or encouragement as I walked blindly down the catwalk in six inch heels, I tentatively stuck my head out of the lowered cone to see if I was in danger of staggering off the end,  and consequently received some stern looks as I exposed my bra to all observers.  Brows were furrowed and heads scratched: something needed to be done.

As Stevie and I sulked backstage, certain once more that our day was going to end in mutual humiliation, exposed nether-regions and potential broken limbs, I draped the hoop that made the circular structure of the cone over my shoulders. ‘It looks really good like that you know!’ said a model lurking nearby, probably delighting in our misery. Thus, the light-bulb moment of the day occurred. Stevie and I worked out a sequence of walking blindly in the cone and positioning it over my shoulders, enabling me to SEE, creating the ultimate ‘best of both worlds’ scenario: elaborate cone was displayed, and I did not have to engage in kamikaze modelling.

The 4:30pm show went excellently:

Image stolen from Chris Jones, who photographed the event.

Sadly I can’t find a photograph of the cone fully extended, but hopefully one will appear. Apparently it was hard to photograph anyone in motion due to the slow shutter speeds being used because of the bad lighting…. or something. Anyway, as my smug expression indicates, I HAD NOT FALLEN OVER DURING MY BLIND WALK TO THAT POINT. I was in the clear! Everything was going to go perfectly at the 8:30pm show.

It almost did, except for the fact that I nearly forgot the absolutely crucial part of the whole thing – to extend the cone structure.  Off I went, tottering down the catwalk, making a good two paces before realising that I could actually see, and therefore something must be terribly wrong.  Images of Stevie’s FACE OF RAGE began to flash before my eyes as I rapidly lifted my arms, but thankfully, the large cheer that ensued when the cone was deployed completely alleviated any telling off I was expecting to face.  After a brief hi-five and a cry of ‘DID YOU HEAR THAT???!!!1!!???’ I zipped myself out of the cone for the final time, and back into my far more workable attire of jeans and a vest.

However, it was wishful thinking that I might be able to leave, despite how staggeringly tired everyone had become after 10 hours of worry.  I was employed, amongst the fashion students, as a ‘dresser’ helping the professional models who had to get through five complete outfit changes before the end of the show.  Regardless of my cries, Mean Girls style, of ‘I DON’T EVEN GO HERE!’ I was somehow lumbered with a clothing rail heaving with fiddly accessories and beautiful, but impossible to get in to, dresses.  As I fretted about untied bows and laddered tights, I began to wish I was still inside the now-preferable and stress free cone.  Thankfully, all went well, and no graduating designers had to yell at me for ruining their final show.

At about 10:30pm, I cycled home, exhausted but thrilled, leaving Stevie to delight in his conical success after a day of miraculously avoided catastrophe.  I never should have doubted you!

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2 Responses to “Trying to Rekindle the Heyday, or, ‘Doncaster College’s Fashion Show 2010’”

  1. rosie 30/05/2010 at 11:51 pm #

    I’m glad I found your blog through you finding mine, or however it happened. Many, many blogs seem to be so visual-heavy, and it’s really nice to read some nice writing sometimes too.

    And yes, Eurovision can be great! Subtitles are essential though….

  2. helenasinclair 31/05/2010 at 12:01 am #

    I really can’t remember how I came across you and your blog! But I recall being charmed and have been lurking via Google Reader ever since.

    Yes, definitely subtitles, and a complete abandonment of any sense of national pride.

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