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Forest Hill Fashion Week Sept 2013

Picture the scene.  A skinny ten year old girl lying on the floor in her mothers bedroom. Underneath her slight frame a brightly patterned length of folded stretch chiffon in purple and pink. A borrowed felt pen in hand and an oversized pair of forbidden dressmaking shears nearby. She wriggles as she hastily tries to draw her rough outline from ankle to underarm on either side of her body. Stops briefly to listen to sounds of her mothers soft footsteps – just in case she is caught in the process of fabric butchery – especially as said fabric happens to belong to the unsuspecting adult. Reassured, markings complete, the excited youngster carefully cuts a hole for her head on the centre fold of the fabric and threads a needle with novice hands. Finally, rough back-stitch and half an hour later, The Most Beautiful Kaftan In The World is born.

Ok so it wasn’t perfect. I (yes the youngster was me – how did you guess?) had completely  overlooked the fact that I would need to actually move around in my creation so it was a little tight on the legs. But, oh, when I raised my arms and shimmied (hobbled) down my mothers bedroom catwalk, I felt like the most celebrated fashion designer slash model alive!


Upcycled full skirt in progress


African print caplet almost complete

Fast forward 40 years. Having rejected ‘Fashion Designer’ as a viable career (too competitive for my inherently ‘lazy’ nature ) I chose Dance instead. Go figure. I continued to design and sew clothes for myself and later, my family, whilst a pursued my teaching career.

In February 2013 the first Forest Hill Fashion Week (FHFW) took place and I was lucky enough to become involved with my business Reddskinbags. September 20th – 25th 2013 saw our second event, it’s bigger, brighter and altogether more glamorous sister.


Model fitting time! Nathan 🙂


Reddskinbags collection ironed and ready to roll!


Reddskinbags creations awaiting their matching outfits

A Live catwalk show took place at The Horniman Museum and Gardens in Forest Hill. The evening kicked off five days of talks, demonstrations and workshops related to craft and fashion. On the evening of Friday 20th September a magical Horniman conservatory was alive with vibrant stalls showcasing the creations of local talented designers, most of whom also had their unique designs in the show.


Fun times at the Reddskinbags stall!


Display of delight


Magical Horniman Museum conservatory

For my part, I had (finally) taken the plunge and designed a tiny collection of four pieces to accompany my bag designs. Undoubtedly, THE best decision I’ve ever made. It was a fan-TASTIC evening. The Forest Hill area exploded with Fashionistas and their friends eager to find out what the fuss was all about and support a wonderfully exciting event.


Backstage calm before the storm


Almost show time!

So much energy and enthusiasm converged to display a warm community spirit that was a pleasure and a privilege to witness.  A huge thank you to Penelope Else, the visionary and driving force behind Forest Hill Fashion, and to the human dynamo Charlotte Cameron who organised the Catwalk Show and Cherrelle, bubbly stylist extraordinare.


A giggly Belle Studio and Awesome Aaron doing their thing!


Models in full Reddskinbags effect! Eeeep!


Model Layla works the runway


African model elegance – capelet and matching clutchbag


Upcycled skirt and matching handbag.


African print drop crotch trousers, tie and rucksack


‘That’ skirt.


Encore! Encore!

These photos are a teensy snippet of my part in Forest Hill Fashion Week. There are many more pictures of the designers, characters and their work by London Photographer Sara and Belle Studio. Have a look. Take your time. Is ‘history in the making’ too grand an observation? Who knows?


The unstoppable Charlotte Cameron – Catwalk show coordinator and all round good egg!


Cherelle the Super Stylist!

How FHFW will evolve only time will tell. It wouldn’t have been so successful without the time and efforts of many brilliant volunteers – take this as a Big Fat Thank you! *holds applause card up for a very long time*

What are the next steps for Reddskinbags?

As usual … watch this space!


A little hashtag action. You’re welcome!

K x


About Reddskin

New name! New chapter! Follow me over at My name is Ms A. I'm a mother, designer and educator.

4 responses »

  1. When London Fashion week was on Naomi Campbell commented that there were not black models. I’ve just looked at these picturesa and can see no white women and note that the show was held in Forest Hill close to London. I look forward to your comments, thanks

    • Thank you for your comments, Nicky. MsCampbell was, rightly in my opinion, highlighting the lack of diversity, in the models chosen for LFW. It is something that should be addressed. Whilst we’re at it we should tackle ageism and size-ism within the fashion industry.
      For my part I was allocated my lovely models based on my clothing sizes. That they happened be of Afro-Caribbean origin is wholly irrelevant. If you look at the links to the photographers in my post you will further note that the models featured are from a variety of cultural backgrounds which reflects the diversity of London and Forest Hill, which is in London.
      K x

  2. Congratulations Ms A!!! This is becoming bigger and bigger. I have a feeling it’s only gonna get even bigger and more global. Well done.


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