Style has been on parade this week as York's first Fashion Week hit the catwalks – and the cafes and the cobbled streets!

Words: Maxine Gordon

Photos: Olivia Brabbs Photography (

YORK struck a pose this week as it staged its first Fashion Week.

Designers, models, hair stylists and make-up artists took over the city centre, staging almost 50 events at a mix of venues, from historic hotels to trendy bars.

Bettys tea rooms in St Helen's Square was the perfect venue for the launch event: a fashion show by York-based designer Antonia Aitken, of Antonia Houston Couture.

It was held upstairs in the Belmont Room. While a dainty afternoon tea was served, models showed off Antonia's Yorkshire Dandy collection: the first from her new couture label. The pieces all featured Yorkshire wool and delicate silks – some of which had been hand printed by York duo Meiji Designs. The dominant colours were violet, pistachio green, teal blue, and baby and raspberry pink - matching the pretty cakes served to the sell-out audience. Hats were designed by another York-based business, Knot & Bloom, and had a vintage twist.

She Loves York staged a fashion show too, at The Principal hotel, featuring a mix of independents and high-street favourites, including Hobbs, French Connection, LK Bennett and Debenhams, as well as Molly Browns, Saskia & Rose London handbags, Liv female-only cycle wear, and coats from local designer Sarah Lewis.

York milliners Rose & Flo staged a styling event too at Grays Court, teaming up with Saks hair and beauty and Antonia Houston Couture.

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Menswear had its own focus too, (see picture above) when Agency 51 hosted a catwalk show showing off local fashions and accessories. Among the York businesses taking part were Cuffs & Co, English Utopia, Winstons of York, and Kulture Projects. All proceeds from the event went to Prostate Cancer UK.

Fashion expert Nayna McIntosh, who helped launch Per Una at M&S, was in town too, to give a talk at The Principal – again to a packed audience.

The issue of body confidence was in the spotlight with a screening of the documentary Embrace, about women's body image, at City Screen, which was followed by a Q&A session.

There were events for children too and lots of beauty and styling sessions as well.

Angela Horner, chair of York Fashion Week, said it had been a resounding success. "The week has been tremendous and the feedback from those attending the events has been so positive and people have been truly impressed with the programme."

She added: "Our launch event for the week in the Belmont Room at Bettys featuring the the Yorkshire Dandy Collection by Antonia Houston Couture was a stunning start to the week.

"The collaborations have also been fabulous, bringing together different businesses and designers working together in various venues across the city.

"The other fabulous part of the week has been the eclectic mix of events – there really has been something for everyone, from children’s events, talks, film, catwalks, in-store events… people have been spoilt for choice.

"Another great positive this week has been the passion and enthusiasm of all those taking part in events. It shows what can be achieved when we all work together towards a shared goal."

She said she hoped even more local businesses would take part next year and added: "All those taking part this year are keen to get involved in York Fashion Week 2019 and we hope to announce the date in a few weeks time."

Meanwhile, there is still time to take part in Fashion Week, with events going on over the weekend, including today a free hand and arm massage and a glass of fizz at Molton Brown (9.30am-5.30pm) and a complimentary styling session at M&S (10am-4pm). Today and tomorrow check out the Fashion Hub at Shambles Market (free, 10am-5pm). Tomorrow there will be a Festival of Vintage at York Racecourse, celebrating the fashion, music and style of the 1930s to the 1960s (tickets from £12, from 10am-5pm).

For the full programme, visit and