Spring is fashion show season in St Andrews, and in the wake of a show-stopping FS and a stopped-show DONT WALK, CATWALK: Perception had much of an occasion to rise to. And rise they did; goodie bags featuring coupons for a slice of the St Andrews staple Mozza’s, pink Slingsby’s G&Ts on entry, and cupcake servers meandering 601 prepped guests for a night perfectly organized and choreographed to showcase the beautiful boldness of CATWALK. This year the event was supporting the local, national, and international charities Fife Women’s Aid (FWA), Wave Project, and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) respectively.

The night started with several St Andrew’s event staples, such as corner photo shoot setups, small food and drink offerings being passed around, and traditional 601 dance music pumping through the speakers. The catwalk setup itself, however, was impeccably designed for the night: twinkling lights wrapped wide hoops hanging from the ceilings, surrounded by screens lit up with various Perception logos. Guests were drawn in to main showroom, urgent to claim a perfect spot around the catwalk while they anxiously awaited the first signs of the show’s commencement. Finally, around 9:40pm, the music fell, the lights dimmed, and everyone hushed. And just as quickly as it calmed, the music, lights, and applause swelled as the first models stepped on stage, their faces literally framed in black handheld cardboard squares.

Throughout the opening sequence there was hardly a breath taken in the room. The stage filled with this season’s models, each walking in perfect unison to the heavy club bass. Makeup was minimized but for sleek swipes of color across the eyes of each model, bringing a striking beauty to the bold choreography and succeeding to further build the room’s tense energy. By the time the final model dressed all in black and classic CATWALK coats left the stage, there was hardly a patient eventgoer left in the crowd. The energy pulsed across the stage, and the fashion show officially began.

The theme of the night was Perception, entangling everyday life with surrealism. As the show progressed screens with the Perception logo began distorting the writing in bizarre loops and fizzling abstract light art. The first half of the show was electrifying – the models were perfectly composed with marked intensity and decorated with eye catching garments, from oversized sweater & overall combinations to Powerpuff Girl themed dresses. Catcalls exuded from the crowds as soon as the male models began shedding their top layers in Superdry boxers and large multicoloured puffy jackets. The designers contrasted each other perfectly – Jack Wills took the stage in comfortable day-to-day garb, while the WE ARE GOING TO BE OKAY. WE ARE OKAY collection sported a mixture of fabrics from long linen sleeves featuring the collection title, to pink ruched tops over clear plastic trousers. The dead seriousness of the models gave way in a few well-choreographed movements, but the walks were primarily marked with identical intensity. The first portion of the show lasted about an hour, with a brief intermission for a charity auction, or to grab a slice of Mozza’s outside.

The second portion began first with shocked gasps and then thunderous cheering – female models strutted the stage in X Boux Avenue lingerie. Black tight bras, red bodysuits, even elegant white lace strutted the runway. With everyone’s attention dutifully caught on the incredible underwear display, the show hit its creative and lighthearted niche. CATWALK has always prided itself on being a fashion show for the people, celebrating the diversity and lighthearted fun of fashion. Models began hitting their marks with playful dances, twirling each other and extending hands to the audience. It became a party more than just a show, with everyone around the room dancing and cheering on their friends, who flipped each other and flossed on cue. When the show hit its end a mere 45 minutes after the intermission, the runway was filled with an assemblage of the faces and garments we’d witnessed over the night met with screams and cheers. The stage, audience, and organizers disintegrated into a dancing mass, cheering on the brilliance and success of CATWALK | Perception 2019.

Photos courtesy of Tom Oldridge for Lightbox St Andrews.