Whilst the pandemic altered so many physical aspects of our lives changing the way that we looked at the world, fashion also became a component of this altered perspective. The art of runways became a thing of the past as digital tools overtook the industry positioning brands and their garments solely behind screens. This meant solely relying on social media, website domains and apps in order to view clothing, removing all aspects of live viewing and touch that naturally came with the excitement of fashion events. For us at Femme Country Magazine, it was so important that we kept the interaction between clothes and physical touch evident during such times. But, whilst we accomplished this by allowing our readers to view their favourite brands through print in a physical activity, there was so much more that we wanted to achieve.
With the announcement of one of Yorkshire’s most exhilarating schedules for celebrating style, our excitement only continued to increase as York Fashion Week made their official broadcast that they would be returning for 2022. After two years postponed due to the pandemic, this was an event in which I wanted the magazine to get involved in. It was further an opportunity to spark a sense of curiosity about the country style and spotlight its ability to be versatile inn contrasting landscapes. With the vision to combine country modernity and stylistic integrity through a runway show that would push the boundaries of rural clothing into the urbanised environment, we pitched our idea to YFW.
With a fervour to pull the visions and ethos from beyond our pages, we were honoured to be asked to host one of the official headlining events that would kickstart York Fashion Week.
Showcasing on the first evening of schedule, Femme Country Magazine presented ‘The Country to City Muse’ fashion runway. Dramatic lighting, a full audience and the chance to see collections displayed live, were factors that needed to be resurrected inside the fashion industry and this one-of-a-kind event drove this. Located at the beautifully chic Malmaison Hotel at the heart of York’s city centre, our exclusive event saw eminent country brands make their debut on the runway sporting the latest collections whilst spotlighting the versatility of their garments. ‘The Country to City Muse’ fashion runway gave country clothing the ability to move from beyond the fields and into the city. We created a show immersed with spirit that commended the vision of the brands, the work of their designers and the diversity of the women wearing the name.
From the original planning to the rehearsals to the final runway event, it was such an emotional journey for me as Editor, for the publication’s growth but more importantly for the team of ladies that helped to make the show a collaborative success. Altogether ‘The Country to City Muse’ show brought together 19 female models (some of whom had never met before), 4 photographers, 3 make-up and hair artists, 2 backstage assistants, over 20 brands and over 80 audience guests.
We were so honoured to work alongside some of the country fashion sector’s most unique and exciting brands. To be able to deliver a showcase of clothing versatility, eloquence and practicality via a physical platform for these brands, saw Femme Country at the forefront of change for the magazine.
Our sponsoring jewellery name welcomed luxury artisanal brand ‘Hiho Silver.’ Designed to take its wearer ‘from mucking out to going out,’ Hiho Silver create exquisite pieces that are electrically inspired by the beauty of the countryside and the rich equestrian culture which resides there. Hiho Silver is led by Emma and Andrew, with the aim of creating beautiful yet robust pieces to be worn day in, day out no matter what the task at hand. Emma strongly believes in the power of collaboration which sees Hiho Silver connect with unique brands and people from all over the UK. To have the recognised brand sponsor and exhibit an array of their practical pieces on the runway allowed us to link the connection between the accessories we match to our clothing and our personalities.
Incredibly proud to be introducing their new range, Toggi Clothing presented the ‘Toggi Outdoor Phase 4’ collection. As a joining sponsor, the brand seamlessly produces quality garments without compromising on style. Unpredictable is certainly the most fitting adjective to describe the British Summertime. Like the domino effect, our general instinct to adhere to whatever the weather throws at us lets slip our wardrobe norms, provoking us to compromise with our style. Toggi’s commitment to practicality on the clothing rail is never ending. The runway exhibited the collection’s 10,000/10,000 waterproof breathability, ethical down, compression fabrics, breathable layers. The ‘walking the dog outfit’ is becoming fashionable and we showcased head to toe Toggi outfits for those similar outdoor activities where style is surfacing.
Supporting small was also a sponsorship desire for the event and to secure one which is breaking the boundaries of fashion, felt incredible! Sprawling & Osborne is a brand that delves into more than just clothing. For its founder, Tamsin Sprawling, her number one priority is to make correctly fitting garments accessible for all. “We all know that there are no two bodies the same and there are so many different shapes and sizes, yet we can walk into the high street shop and suddenly we’re expected to fit into a standard size 8-18.” Whilst the show enforced diversity in both model age and size, Tamsin used the platform to display her timeless creations and transform the way that ladies feel comfortable and confident in the fit and style of her garments.
Driving the show further was my passion to educate and direct the audience to new brands that have the potential to fill your wardrobe. Maude & Fox were a brand that I discovered from social media and one I knew I wanted inside the magazine and on the runway. Sue Longmore, founder and designer of Maude & Fox, first discovered her love of fashion at her boarding school in Sussex. As a lady teeming with dynamism, her artistic flair led her to the creation of Maude & Fox. In a prominent story for design, Sue was immediately taken back by the changeless form country clothing was taking and questioned its ability to both look contemporary whilst performing practically. Maude & Fox uses the traditional material of British tweed to create classic designs with a contemporary edge that will survive the test of time, and this is exactly what she brought to the runway. From ponchos to skirts with a British twist, there was something for every lady inside the showcase collection.
The immersive experience was a chance for those with a passion for the country wardrobe and a curiosity to observe new brands up close, to attend an authentic fashion show built on style and integrity. Whether it’s a statement handbag or an entire seasonal collection, this show bridged the close connection between our supportive readers and the brands we work to introduce and elevate into the industry through an offline event.
When the fashion show first sparked as an idea in my mind, I knew instantly that we needed driven ladies who embodied the ethos of the event and who held strong positions in the array of sectors under the country umbrella. With contrasting ages, sizes and ethnicities we drove the importance of equal representation live on stage. Emma Jones, who modelled inside The Country to City Muse runway, works daily as a Farm Trader and Agronomist whilst driving an Instagram of over 10,000 followers highlighting her love for fashion. Speaking at the event she said, “It’s really bizarre because this morning I was crop walking and now I’ve just had my hair and make-up done for this evenings runway event, but for me it’s the variety that comes within the industry and the excitement of something different. Being in the agricultural sector has its pressure but for me being able to meet likeminded people through fashion is such an escape. I am, however, so proud to be working inside the agricultural industry and educating people all about my job is so fulfilling.”
Sarah Thomas, Co-Founder of Yorkshire brand Clockface Beauty, also modelled inside the show and expressed how her lifestyle with work mirrored the spirit of the show, “I’m a Mum of two little boys alongside being a full-time businesswoman so being a part of this show was incredibly new for me. I live in the country and then I work in the city, so my wardrobe incorporates a real mix of the two landscapes. I really feel your style doesn’t have to be exclusive to one or the other, there is definitely a happy medium to have. The Country to City Muse event was so important as it actually showcased this ideal in a really accessible way.”
If you didn’t manage to grab tickets for the show back in April, you can follow its journey via the Farmers Weekly YouTube Channel which saw the girls at ‘Boots & Heels’ document an exclusive episode in collaboration with Femme Country Magazine. Showcasing everything from the behind-the-scenes action at the event to never-seen-before interviews from the brands, if you’re evening had you elsewhere this episode will transport you back to the front row from the comfort of your home.
The Country to City Muse fashion runway will make its return back next year! If you’re sat reading this blog post, thinking this could be my brand or I have the ability to model too, get in touch with us at info@femmecountrymagazine and fill the showcase space for 2023 – see you there!