17th June 2024

Cambridge Fashion Show 2019 – A Review


Lavender’s own Alex Drayne, acclaimed author of ‘17 surprising facts about crocs’ and ‘9 ways to insert an avocado into one’s body’, returns to explore the Cambridge Fashion Show

This year I took my journalistic talent, minor drinking problem, and complete lack of integrity along to the Cambridge Fashion Show, determined to answer the age-old question; “Why is that person, wearing those clothes, in this context?”


To get started, I sat down for a primer on all things fashion with the designer of this year’s collection, Marcus Atherton. The garment maestro told me, “Fashion is a state of mind. It’s not about the clothes. It’s about the je ne sais quoi. This year’s collection might look like some scantily clad young men wearing dungarees, construction vests and chastity belts. But that’s just seeing things at the surface level. Really, my work is a post-urban, a-rural, constructivist twist on the more traditional inherentivist stylings of western culture.”

Finally. This was starting to make a lot of sense.

I began doing some critique of my own, and asked Marcus for some tips on evaluating the show; “Thinking about fashion is an art in of itself. When looking at a pair of trousers for example, one shouldn’t simply look at the trousers. One should look deeper, through the physical material making up the trousers, and past the appendage which lies beneath, exposing the meaning of the clothing in all its glorious nakedness. The question is not ‘what are the trousers?’ – but instead, ‘why are the trousers’. Once one has this insight, all that is left is to find the right words to capture the meaning one has found. That’s where using French idioms come in. Use them. A lot.”

Armed with this new knowledge, a notepad, and a stiff drink, I ventured forth.

On entering the show, I settled in to watch the models stroll down the catwalk in Atherton’s collection. After ten minutes or so, I couldn’t help but feel that I was missing something. Yes, the collection did indeed have a post-urban, irreverent, baroque feel. And yes, there were chastity belts. But I wasn’t feeling the deep understanding, and the intimate connection, that I had been told to look for. Besides, my hands had started to shake – I needed a drink.

Gin and tonic, on the rocks, without the tonic. That’s the stuff. Having relieved the free bar of enough units to tranquillize a giraffe, I was feeling somewhat closer to understanding fashion. Looking at the show itself, I realised, had been a mistake. In order to truly understand the meaning of the show, I needed to understand the clothes of the audience, not the models.

I approached a likely looking group of attendees, with a slight stagger in my step and some words in desperate need of slurring. “Yooouargrihgt???” I asked. Their attention gained, I began to analyse outfits.

This was better. I could see a clear pattern in their clothing. The concerned looking man in front of me, for example, was clearly wearing that hoodie as a statement on the inherent contradictions of modern life, and the drawstrings of very existence which tantalise the hood of our despair on a day-to-day basis. And his jeans! Him and his friend were clearly both wearing a pair to represent the uniformity of people’s personalities, and the bland reality of their own.

I was looking at his jeans, and contemplating who on earth ‘Levi’ might be, when the gin caught up with me. What had been an explosion of deep insight into fashion quickly became an explosion of an altogether different kind. I tried to explain that I had really added an art-nouveau, en suite, twist to the man’s jeans. He disagreed.

I woke up in the gutter outside the show. Not again, I thought. But then, I realised that passing out on the pavement may have been my pièce de résistance. As people began to walk past me on their way out of the show, I was able to gain a truly ground-level appreciation of their dress. After all, there’s no better way to judge a shoe than being stepped on.