"Derry’s newly relaunched Maldron Hotel will be the stylish setting for a special Winter Wonderland Collaboration Catwalk event, kicking off Derry City Council’s Four Day fashion extravaganza, Fashion Fest 2014, on Wednesday November 19.

The event was launched in fine style yesterday at Custom House restaurant with the Mayor of Derry Councillor Brenda Stevenson and current Miss Derry Dearbhla Walsh lending a bit of extra aesthetic sparkle to proceedings and just a hint of some of the gorgeous highlights planned for the four day celebration of the local fashion industry, which will run from November 20-23.

The Winter Wonderland event is organised by Rutledge and JD Hair Academy, and is the result of a special collaboration between several local retailers.

Councillor Stevenson praised the work of all the organisers behind Derry’s inaugural citywide Fashion programme. ‘I would like to congratulate all involved in putting together such a creative and exciting programme for the city’s first Fashion Fest, especially the many businesses throwing their weight behind the Winter Wonderland Collaboration Catwalk event. Derry is a burgeoning vibrant hub for fashion and it’s fantastic to see retailers and designers alike coming together to share in this exclusive event.’

Tutor and stylist Tracey McCloskey is in the midst of putting the final touches to the programme for an event packed with music, entertainment and plenty of catwalk glamour.

‘We started off with a pretty small event in mind, but we have been overwhelmed by the level of interest from people wanting to take part,” she revealed. “I’ve brought my students to so many fashion events over the years in places like Foyleside and TK Maxx, so I was extremely keen to get them involved in the entire event planning process, rather than just showing up to watch.

‘I wanted them to see something outside what they would study in the salon, and create a real experience for them based on how these events are organised. What’s great about this event is that it brings together lots of smaller retailers and businesses, who are all really pulling together to make this happen. It’s not about the big retail chains, it’s about showcasing local talent and local business spirit.

‘I’ve had so much help from people who wanted to get involved – especially Theresa Doherty from Hairspray. They really see the value in events like this which provide inspiration and keep their staff interested in finding new and creative ways of working.

‘Wendy from Dance House has also been such a great help in providing the models – and even my own nephews will be taking to the catwalk. And we have been lucky enough to get the talented Mickey Doherty on board for the event, which is just fabulous – he will really make the event a night to remember. There’s so much anticipation and excitement building now ahead of Fashion Fest, it’s a fantastic event for the city, and I’m delighted to be a part of it.’

The event will feature a whole host of local talent, with a vibrant interactive catwalk experience provided by dancers and models from the Pink Ladies and Pink Panthers, and the Dance House, Spencer Road. With hair and make-up styled by Rutledge (JD Salon), Hairspray and Addiction, this promises to be one of the highlights of this year’s much anticipated Fashion Fest.

And there will be plenty to keep the audience entertained on the night courtesy of MC Mickey Doherty and live music from DJ Tomski, in a space transformed by the expert hands of Ultimate Touches.

Business Opportunities Officer with Derry City Council, Tara Nicholas said: ‘It’s fantastic to see the passion and enthusiasm of all the businesses involved in the Winter Wonderland Event, and the fact that it offers so many retailers the chance to showcase their products.

‘It’s the perfect way to launch the Fashion Fest programme as it highlights all the city has to offer in the lead in to Christmas, and the growing fashion focus within Derry. I would like to acknowledge all the hard work that has gone into the planning by Tracey and her team and I’m really looking forward to an exceptional event.’

Entry is free although there will be a collection on the night for the Pink Ladies and Pink Panthers. Doors open at 6.30pm, with all the action taking place from 7pm – and with so much to look forward to, this is one event you won’t want to be fashionably late for!

The evening heralds the beginning of a four day fashion feast for the senses, with a packed programme for fashion fans and industry professionals alike including an Industry Focus Day, a Vintage Fair, workshops, fashion shows, creative communities events and a spectacular Irish Wedding Showcase in St Columb’s Cathedral."

You can find the original article on the City of Culture's website