[Dublin] House of Fraser SS2012 Fashion Show

Me, my big bum and the models: l-r Laura, Elga, Aldonna and Pia. We are all wearing Helen McAlinden
Yesterday I presented a fashion show for House of Fraser. A spring summer catwalk presentation, there were three very different brands being showcased; Dickins & Jones, Episode and my own Helen McAlinden, with whom I'm interning at the moment.

Originally our visual merchandiser Mark Andrew Kelly had been scheduled to head up the mic, but he was only able to do the preparatory styling work with manager Jemma and I on Thursday night, leaving us very much to it on the day! A lot of people hate being in front of an audience, but with a good few years' musical, theatrical and teaching training behind me, I kind of like a stage. What's more, teaching is something I genuinely enjoy and I loved the opportunity to actually explain how the outfits worked and what's to like about each brand.

I wasn't too familiar with Dickins & Jones nor Episode, so it was an opportunity to learn a bit about them. The first is a heritage British brand that uses a lot of organic fabrics and feminine detailing.
Episode was founded in the year of my birth, 1988, in America, and consists of tailored office and day-wear with a few funky pieces thrown in for the Friday night drinks. Helen McAlinden was the only Irish brand featured, classic capsule wardrobe stuff with a sophisticated European edge, so chinos and nautical stripes are big this spring.

We were still in the store well past 9 on Thursday night, fixing last-minute preparations and Jemma was back in at 8 on Friday. It takes so much more work and precision than people think to pull these things off right. How lucky are department stores, though? They had the Lancome girls from the counter downstairs and choice of loads of other brands for accessories to flesh out the looks and
Nespresso provided a coffee machine with those sexy little capsules for liquid caffeine heaven. Jemma, bless her heart, had even baked dozens of mini scones served with strawberry for punters to munch on, totally in keeping with the spring theme.

The models, one amateur, Elga, Pia the only pro, and two pulled in from House of Fraser's staff, Aldonna and Laura, all seemed like naturals on the runway. There were some wobbles about high shoes beforehand that meant we settled for flats. It's far more important that models are comfortable and above all safe than any stiletto lift; if anything a wobbly model only distracts from the clothes! But they all did really well. It takes balls to make these things look good!

Manager Jade hiked up the Black Eyed Peas on the Bose sound system and running ever so fashionably late, we got off to a smooth start. It took a few looks for me to get into the rhythm of it but actually, telling people how and why outfits worked and in what scenario you could enjoy them best is something I love. A lot of people in general feel outside some imaginary secret circle with fashion, but if guided in certain ways, would be a lot better equipped to shop for the right tastes and shapes to suit them.

We presented four looks from each collection, from lovely linen by Dickins & Jones to sexy sportswear and preppy trenches from Helen McAlinden to glittery lurex knitwear and beach party ready ethnic-print maxi-dress by Episode. We drew a large crowd, so after the first crowd had departed, we did a second bonus run-through. The real question, of course, will be how it translates into sales, but all in all, it was a really fun thing to do, generated a buzz in-store and gave the team of staff that all-important confidence boost. Heaven knows in retail, you need it.
The Dickins & Jones looks

The Episode looks


  1. I wish I saw the show!! I was working that day :( I am sure you all did well!!!! BTW, I've sent you the photos :D

    1. Amazing! Thanks so much... yeah you missed some good fun, although it nearly went the other way, it was a wee bit last minute! But they have big plans for next time... you'll have to be there!