Creativity on the Catwalk – Fashion,Embroidery and stitch at the NEC

I had a fantastic time on Friday at the Fashion, embroidery and Stitch show at Birmingham NEC. This was a show dedicated to all things fashion and design, and without doubt the high point was an inspiring fashion show entitled ‘Creativity on the Catwalk’. Here are some of the highlights of that show.

Butterick/McCall’s/Vogue Patterns

Using the best designs from sewing patterns in a range of beautiful metallic tinged colours, this collection featured an array of flirty Prom style dresses in many different styles. There were silhouettes that referenced the 1950s and 1960s, with both full skirts and shift dress styles. Loved the use of raw silk and Vivienne Westwood style strapless bodices.


Gill Arnold – deconstructing Chanel

Gill Arnold is a dress-maker extraordinaire, offering training in all aspects of clothes construction. Her collection was a celebration of glamour, in eye-popping reds. There were Chanel style jackets, jersey dresses and a Halston style red dress that was just stunning. Gill also gave a talk at her stand that showed how the classic Chanel boxy tweed jacket is constructed, complete with a little bit of Chanel design history for interested fashionista’s.

Fabrics Galore – Royal wedding fever.

Fabrics galore showcased their Kitsch range of new fabrics that are a celebration of the nuptials of Kate Middleton and Prince William. These cotton fabrics include a range of Royal insignia and crowns. The models also came on stage bedecked in cute bunting, perfect for a street party.

Coats Crafts Amy Butler – Soul Blossoms

US designer Amy Butler’s fantastic new range of prints and patterns from her Soul Blossoms collection was a highlight for me. Showcased to the sounds of ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ by The Beatles, this was a psychedelic collection that reflected the inspiration of travelling through India. The waterproof jackets and tunic style dresses were perfect for Summer festivals.

Lizzie Henderson – The Creative Textile Route

Fresh from success at the Clothes Show Live 2010, Lizzie Henderson had decided to take the creative textile route. This collection was reminiscent of Westwood, Galliano and McQueen,with checked and plaid fabrics, bustles, English tweeds and flat caps. There were Westwood style crowns adorning capes modelled by a Kate Middleton lookalike. There was also a touch of the  New Romantics in the hooped skirt.

Warwickshire College Production Theatre – Romance and Turrets.

Another team fresh from Clothes Show Live were the students of Warwickshire college Production Theatre under the auspices of tutor Tracy Bridger. There collection was based on the twin themes of Romeo and Juliet and the majestic Warwick Castle. There were Black Swanesque tulle dresses and Gaultier style corsets. There was a beautiful blue/green strapless dress that was just beautiful.

University of Wolverhampton – a 1001 inspirations!

The flamboyant collection produced by the students of Wolverhampton University drew on many inspirations from Russian Dolls, wildlife and Urban chaos.There were glorious orange prints, Lady Gaga style skirts and Avant Garde designs. This was a collection full of clashing colours and styles.

University of Cumbria – distressed denim and corsetry

This collection had lots of distressed denim with patchwork and industrial style customisation.  Artists Julie Tristam, famous for the pink bra dress on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square, and Ashley Smith were involved in this collection, which also included Isabella Blow style puff-ball dresses and floppy hats.

Grange Academy – A Midsummer Night’s dream

Working with an Artist in Residence, Heather Kubachick, the students from Grange Academy created costumes with a dreamy woodland theme.  Using leaves and petals in net and voile fabric, they have created a floaty, colourful collection that was very pretty.

Nicole Murray – One to watch.

British fashion is an exciting place to be in at the present time, the buzz that surrounded London Fashion Week this year, with its amazing collections and starry front rows, showed that London is once again the capital of the fashion world. And Nicole Murray is primed to become one of its brightest stars. At just 24, she has already seen her first collection sold exclusively through Harrods as part of the ‘Harrods launches’ platform, has received plaudits and acclaim from both the notoriously picky fashion press and celebrities, and is set to be one of the standout collections of the soon-to-be launched website

The Nicole Murray line was first launched in January 2010 and specialises in beautifully constructed, luxurious women’s ready-to-wear. A graduate of the London College of Fashion (previous alumni include Jacques Azagury, Patrick Cox, Ashley Isham and Jimmy Choo),  Nicole was awarded the Harold Tillman Scholarship for Young Designers, the English Eccentrics Bursary and graduated with a distinction. Then followed that amazing first collection for Harrods.  Grazia was amongst those who showered the praise,  saying “block colour ensembles and 40’s glamour was perfectly executed by Nicole Murray”.

A second collection, for Spring/Summer 2011 was also warmly received and led to Nicole signing an exclusive deal with eagerly anticipated online fashion retail site This site will see Nicole’s collection sitting alongside such luminaries as Emilio De La Morena, Josh Goot and Louise Goldin, with a concentration on the best and brightest of new labels and fashion designers from around the world.

Nicole showed her A/W 2011 collection as  part of  the Vauxhall Fashion Scout during London and Paris Fashion Weeks. Her new collection shows her commitment to producing clothes of timeless elegance with a contemporary twist. Using a pallete containing purple shades of heather, amethyst and rosewood as a basis, but with deeper tones of bronze and chestnut browns to add a touch of the dramatic, Nicole has produced a collection that has simple,minimalistic lines, but with fluid sophistication.


Nicole with her A/W 2011 collection


Silk and wool are teamed with leather detailing such as belts, collars and straps to create garments that retain femininity without being too girlish. This is glamorous dressing, without  ruffles and frills, but with a grown up sophistication that is sure to find favour next season. The fabrics used have the added attraction of being made in England.

Nicole’s  collection will soon be available at For more information,visit the Nicole Murray website