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Oxford Fashion Week 2015

Now entering its 7th year, Oxford Fashion Week is returning to the Classical Revival dome of the Sheldonian Theatre for 2015
Jon Harris

"Where we carve our place in the fashion world is in how we choose our designers. Our decisions on how to pick our designers is based on design quality: We look out for designers who show extraordinary talent, and try to blind ourselves from looking at how strong their brand is"

With a host of high-end designers including Lavinia Cadar and William Wilde, not to mention the best of Oxford’s fashion scene, Oxford Fashion Week looks to be the biggest and best year yet


OX spoke to founder and director Carl Anglim to get the insider’s view on the event

Oxford is obviously a cultural hub but hasn’t traditionally been associated with the fashion scene. What motivated you to set up Oxford Fashion Week?

Well, this is stretching way back to 2008 or 2009. What Oxford had was incredible culture, incredible venues and settings that are world-famous. I’d been in oxford for about 4 years and I’d seen so many spaces and I thought that if you could add a dimension of fashion and production then you could create some incredible spectacles. That was what began our first Oxford Fashion Week in 2009, but at that point the idea was only to do it for one year.

Helena Bonham-Carter wears Rosie Dennington

What do you think is attractive about Oxford to designers and buyers from further afield?

For the first 5 years, we did our shows in Oxford in spaces like the Sheldonian Theatre. Oxford is known worldwide for its incredible cultural output, from the literature, art and architecture to areas like politics and history. What’s odd is that Oxford doesn’t have a university that looks at fashion in depth, so when invitations are issued to designers, they see it as an opportunity to come to a city that has this fantastic set of traditions and heritage in a way that isn’t necessarily accessible to many designers out there.

What’s been your biggest challenge over the years in terms of making OFW happen?

The biggest challenges were very early on. When we first had the idea, the challenge was gaining acceptance from both Oxford and the world of fashion, because what we focussed on was emerging designers who might not otherwise show their work at the major fashion weeks. As soon as we achieved that acceptance the atmosphere completely changed.

Fashion isn’t the most welcoming industry. I can’t imagine the amount of work that must go into setting something like this up.

Yeah, where we carve our place in the fashion world is in how we choose our designers. Our decisions on how to pick our designers is based on design quality: We look out for designers who show extraordinary talent, and try to blind ourselves from looking at how strong their brand is.

What’s new to Oxford Fashion Week this year?

This year is the biggest change we’ve ever been through. About a year ago, we started doing two seasons a year, which we were really excited about. This year, there are two things of particular interest. For one, we’re returning to the Sheldonian Theatre for the first time since 2009. It’s one of our favourite spaces, and now we’re entering into our 8th season, we’re really excited to be going back. Also, we’re in the process of choosing the designers right now, and the team who curate Oxford Fashion Week are now doing runway shows in New York, London, Paris, Houston and Los Angeles, all under the Oxford Fashion Studio brand.

Our March season was our most popular and successful to date, so after talking to the designers who show with us, we thought we should give them the opportunity to break into these bigger platforms.

Fantastic. What are you most excited about this year?

We’ve changed things and expanded things. I’m excited that the team that we’ve grown from Oxford is now able to reach out to other parts of the world. Also, for the first time, the designers who show through us will be available for the public to buy through our website. We can build up a long-term relationship where even after the shows are finished, they can stock through us. The simple answer is, what I’m looking forward to this season is the same thing I look forward to every season: The moment when the guests arrive, and the runway lights go up, and seeing the show happen. We have a great team of people who put together the shows, and all we focus on is the details like the lighting and the hair and make-up, and it’s only when the show begins for the first time do you finally see the show come together. That’s an exhilarating experience.

Are there any emerging designers from the area who you would personally recommend or would keep your eye on?

Rosie Dennington is a local designer who originally showed with us back in 2009, showed with us again last year and had her designs worn by Helena Bonham-Carter. There’s a designer called Chloe J Mellen who’s a recent graduate who does fantastic jewellery, some of which is created using 3D printers, which is really exciting. There’s another called Jon Harris who creates corsets made out of old copper boiler tanks, which is a fascinating angle.

It’s great to hear that there are designers from Oxford who are truly innovative.

There’s not a huge number of them, but the few that are here are very interesting and innovative.

Oxford Fashion Week runs from 26-31 October. Tickets are available from oxfordfashionweek.com

Chloe J Mellen

Since Oxford Fashion Week 2014, Oxford-based designer Chloe J Mellen has been working on two different jewellery concepts.

The first, Nature vs Nurture, is composed of geometric rings, with earrings to match. For this collection, Chloe drew inspiration from how the geometrics found in nature shares similarities with those found in mad-made creations. From there, she isolated particular shapes found in both environments to use for the rings.

The second body of work is a collection of medallion pendants made from wax stamps. Chloe collects wax stamps and crafts jewellery using lost wax casting. The stamps come from a variety of sources, from vintage markets to charity shops and the web.

Chloe will be showing her latest collection in the 2015 Oxford Fashion Week.

Rosie Dennington

Rosie Dennington creates fantasy bridal and couture wear, based in Oxford. Her signatures include the embroidery of poetry and stories onto garments and lining her multi-layered corsets with red satin coutil.

Rosie has crafted a bespoke corset dress for Helena Bonham Carter, which featured in Vanity Fair’s Style issue, shot by Mario Testino.

Her brand, Rosie Red Corsetry and Couture, first featured in Oxford Fashion Week in 2009

Jon Harris

Originally a fabricator for Formula 1 teams, Jon Harris has made a name for himself in the Oxford fashion scene by creating stunning corsets from old copper boiler tanks.
Despite having a story far away from the usual background of a fashion designer, Jon’s corsets have had a storming response, showing his bespoke pieces at Oxford Fashion Week in 2014.


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