Cambridge University Charity Fashion Show 2016: The Review

Unlimited alcohol, live entertainment, and haute couture: CUCFS promised us all a night to remember, and it didn’t fail to deliver.

Cambridge Chris Jammer fashion fun show the tab

From 6pm on Saturday evening, the Corn Exchange opened its doors to hoards of guests decked out in black tie.

Improving on last year’s inaugural charity fashion show at the Guildhall, the committee’s decision to use the Corn Exchange as a venue allowed them to increase the number of guests attending this year to 700. Whilst the reception room at the Guildhall facilitated easier queues and a less cramped space during the drinks reception, the Corn Exchange’s concert hall definitely proved a more suitable venue for the show – something that became obvious as the night progressed.


The crowd looked elegant in black tie and dresses © Geoff Robinson

The evening began with a drinks reception offering a variety of cocktails, accompanied by a lively performance from Colonel Spanky’s Love Ensemble with Nanna Mexico burritos and a sweets stall providing nibbles.

This reception turned out to be a little anticlimactic, and the food on offer was the greatest disappointment of the night: cold burritos failed to marry well with the black tie theme of the show, when something sweeter and more sophisticated would have been more satisfying.


The night showcased a fascinating mix of established and graduate designers © Geoff Robinson

Still, this minor qualm was quickly forgotten when the show itself began.

Whilst last year’s catwalk featured many well-known brands (including Mulberry and Jack Wills), as well as a handful of student designers, this year’s show outshone it in the clothes department, instead choosing to showcase a variety of fascinating upcoming brands.

The designs featured included beautiful, origami-like paper dresses by Jule Waibel, fluffy bombers from The Design Studio, and tassled creations from Central Saint Martins graduate Janet Sator.


Many of the designs were thought-provoking and unique © Geoff Robinson

On the men’s side, the clothes continued to push creative boundaries: Johanne Dindler’s designs were a kaleidoscope of colour, whilst Hannah Inskip’s works saw the male models storm down the runway in furry pink coats and pyjama-like twinsets.

Perhaps boldest of them all was Nneka Okorie’s show-stopping creations. Ted Baker and LK Bennett were also featured, adding more traditional sophistication to the show, as did the tailored, minimalist looks designed by Amanda Wakeley.

The models were all confident and charismatic, and apart from one minor slip (in which a guest took to the catwalk during a walk featuring haute couture lingerie by Hannah Farrugia Sharples), the various fashion walks each ran smoothly and professionally – especially fun was the Burnt Soul finale, in which pairs of models playfully danced and cavorted down the runway in eclectic leotards and leggings.


Starman? Legolas? Joonas Kalda. © Geoff Robinson

Beautiful soul performances by Holly Musgrave and Lauren Aquilina were interspersed throughout the show, whilst The Menendez Brothers accompanied many of the walks with their energetic DJ set.

The presenters Milo Edwards and Rob Foxall-Smith also attempted to provide some entertainment during the intervals, but they sadly failed to capture the majority of the audience’s attention; this was quite similar to the presenters’ performance at last year’s show, but at least their jokes were marginally more funny.


The Mail (and a Tab article) called Hannah Farrugia Sharples’ designs “BONDAGE GEAR”. © Geoff Robinson

The second half of the evening saw the show slowly transform into a party. Fuelled by the endless alcohol, guests were encouraged to dance alongside the catwalk to the sets given by Codeko and, impressively, Jungle’s Tom McFarland, whose appearance really showed a statement of intent on the behalf of this year’s committee.

For those expecting a more relaxed evening, these DJ sets may have dragged on for a bit, but a slick performance by CUTAZZ helped to gear us up for the show’s fun Burnt Soul finale.


Karl Thompson enjoys Burnt Soul’s final walk © Geoff Robinson

For £33 a ticket, this year’s CUCFS was unforgettable – whilst there was still something left to be desired in the food and drink sector, the show itself was a triumph, displaying a varied and spectacular assortment of designers, and modeled by a range of charismatic students. The musical acts were also fantastic and well organised so that, by the finale, the show had reached a fever-pitch excitement.

Most importantly, all of the proceeds from the show are donated towards Cambridge House, a charity founded by Cambridge alumni that provides adults and children living in Southwark (a London borough in which 33% of children live in poverty) with education and legal services. In total, the CUCFS committee managed to sell out the show, and raise an impressive £10,000 for charity.

At the end of the evening, happy guests all left with goodie bags packed with Vita Coco, Proper Corn, L’Oreal goods and discounted Creem at Cindies tickets, where the party continued late into Sunday morning.

The Tab Rating: 4 stars


The show was, on the whole, a great success © Geoff Robinson


(The star rating has been corrected to 4 from 4.5.)