York's first fashion week is shaping up as a city-wide affair – and it's not too late to book your place

REMEMBER when the St Nicholas Fair was just half a dozen stalls in Parliament Street?

Angela Horner does – and she hopes Fashion City York follows the same pathway to success.

The St Nicholas Fair is now a month-long festive shopping extravaganza which takes over the city centre and pulls in locals and tourists alike.

Fashion City York began six years ago with a weekend of events aimed at putting the city on the style map.

The goal was always to launch a fashion week – and that will come true next year when York's first Fashion Week will run from April 16 to 22.

As you might expect, fashion will dominate the programme with local retailers hosting a wide range of events from in-store catwalk shows to styling demos.

But other businesses and organisations will be taking part too – widening the appeal of Fashion City York, says Angela, chair of the organisation.

"We need as many events as possible going on to attract lots of people," said Angela. "We would like to increase footfall in the city centre during the week – and the more events that are going on, the likelier that will be.

"We want the event to have a wider appeal to everyone than just shopping."

Highlighting the diversity of the 2018 programme, York museums and several art galleries will be taking part, said Angela.

"All the York museums are going to engage with it and host fashion-related events. The city's art gallery as well as the Whitewall Gallery in Davygate and the Art of Protest in Little Swinegate are taking part too."

Spark: York, the hub for independent businesses that is currently taking shape in former shipping containers in Piccadilly, has pledged its support too, staging a "Fashion Week takeover" says Angela. It will host a series of events and talks, all fashion related. "We will be doing some educational days. We have been engaging with York College and some local schools," says Angela. "There will be talks on a career in fashion buying and York College will be giving a talk about studying fashion."

Top designer JW Anderson is booked to make an appearance too. Angela is delighted to have such a high profile name come to York; last year, Irish designer Paul Costelloe made an appearance at Browns department store where he met some of the city's fashion students.

North Yorkshire-based designer Antonia Aitken of Blossom & Belle will formally launch Fashion Week with an evening of couture in the Belmont Room at Bettys, St Helen's Square. She will be showing her new collection, labelled Antonia Houston, featuring Yorkshire tweeds and silk in beautiful tailoring that would be perfect attire for a day at the races. Accompanying her will be Knot & Bloom, showcasing their vintage headpieces.

Unlike previous years, there will be no central marquee. Instead, the focus will be on shops and venues in the city centre. "A marquee is very expensive and people thought that was Fashion City York," explains Angela. "We feel it will be much better for the city centre to send people around York rather than drive everyone to one marquee in the middle."

Angela envisages a bustling programme, with lots of pop-up events in stores such as mini catwalk shows and style workshops. It is hoped that fashion blogger Caroline Jones will return following her successful styling workshop and afternoon tea at the Grand Hotel for this year's Fashion City York.

The organising committee is now appealing for local businesses to come forward with their ideas for Fashion Week. Anyone who wants to take part needs to send in their details by mid-December, says Angela, in order to make it into the brochure – all listings are free of charge. Fashion City York is also looking for sponsorship for Fashion Week, with packages from £2,500. If a suitable sponsor came forward, it would enable them to hire a company to stage a fashion show during the week – but that would cost £10,000, says Angela. Again, any interested parties, should get in touch.

Fashion City York is an inclusive event, stresses Angela. It's not just for boutiques. Some of the best events have come from collaborations, such as Bettys hosting a beauty evening with Space NK or She Loves York staging a fashion show with the Principal Hotel.

"We want to get the message into shops that lots of places want to collaborate. There are restaurants that want to hold a fashion event, so you don't have to do it on your own. You can market it to your customers and they can market it to theirs. That way you will be reaching twice as many people."

New ideas for 2018 include a possible pop-up fashion market one evening in Shambles Market and a procession of traditional silk dresses through York by the Chinese Society.

Angela said: "We really want more people to come forward and get involved. We want more hair and beauty salons to take part – you don't have to sell clothes. Use your imagination. We have had bars and restaurants take part before, creating a Fashion City York cocktail and menu. Anybody can engage with it."

Find out more at: fashioncityyork.org

To take part, get in touch with Angela: angela@fashioncityyork.org