DONT WALK is simply an extremely professional enterprise. The night, in its entirety, seemed meticulously orchestrated and executed, with the arrival, show, and after party flowing into one another with minimal disruption. The abundance of such high profile fashion shows this term always strikes one as a little bizarre for a student town, but at its core, DONT WALK is crowd pleasing entertainment, with added dimensions for attendees with a knowledge of fashion. For those in the know, the range of designers and outfits on display was creative and varied; for those lacking previous knowledge, the sheer spectacle of the eccentrically dressed figures striding the runway, tiny against the height of the marquee, was plenty to behold.
Musically speaking, the show was just as diverting. A trio of string players opened proceedings with a series of chords, brightly lit on the dark stage. The volume proved to be a problem here, as even magnified by a microphone, the lower notes of the cellos in particular vanished against the din of the guests. As their segment progressed, the violin’s tune became more distinctly audible, the volume directly proportional with the rising sense of anticipation. The presence of the strings, even while hampered a bit by technology, created a memorably effective contrast with the music that followed.
Accompanying the models as they made their way around the three pronged catwalk, the music for the rest of the show was perfect for the nature of the event. Musical director Stuart Hindmarch provided a strong bass line to facilitate both the dancing of the guests, and the pace of the models. Every now and again an extract from a familiar song would emerge through the house music, allowing ABBA and Madonna to get a look in on the runway.
I always find that this occasional use of universally known songs serves another purpose, besides being generally enjoyable: it marks the passage of time. At these events, the majority of the audience are fairly merry and bright after an hour has elapsed, risking time passing in a blur of slickly selected house music. The insertion of a well known song here and there permits a sort of metric for the duration of the show, with the contrast serving to highlight the variety of music played overall.
The transition from show to afterparty was smoothly handled, particularly considering that all the guests remained in the tent while various parts of the venue, like the VVIP area, were dismantled. The big headline acts for the afterparty, NEIKED and Third Party, continued the established pattern of musical excellence for the night. Both specialise in the kind of music that lends itself exceptionally to a party like DONT WALK, so guests were kept cheerful and dancing until the lights came up at the end.
I have previously wondered with events that book such big acts, why they don’t do a big announcement when they take to the stage, and really DONT WALK was no different here. Perhaps the committee assumes it would disrupt proceedings, or seem unprofessional, but time and again, so many guests to events like these say they missed the main acts because they didn’t realise they were on. NEIKED isn’t quite a case like this because “Sexual” is recognisable enough to stop conversations – but it still took a little while for many of the guests to clock that their set had started.
Overall, DONT WALK delivered a superlative night of entertainment for its guests. The whole enterprise is clearly organised down to the last detail, which shows not just in the spectacle, but in the more mundane things like queues for buses, loos, and the bar. Finally looking at the night from simply a musical perspective, it really was just a triumph of variety and contrast.