Behind The Scenes At York Fashion Week


York Fashion Week (YFW) returned this year in April after a two-year break due to the pandemic. Nicky Hayer, the Creative Director of YFW, shares with some insight into what’s coming next

What does a typical day at York Fashion Week look like?

It’s very varied as we have the branding, strategy and logistics to think of. And my role covers the creative element of curating the shows and planning photoshoots. I start the day with checking my emails as we get a huge number of model and brand enquiries. And after that it’s a lot of meetings and planning. We work with brands from across the UK, and in fact in March we even featured Amare Antwerp from Belgium, so it’s a lot of Zoom calls!

We also do monthly networking sessions for the YFW community, so after a day in the office we meet at a venue in town to discuss ideas and areas of collaboration.

What is the goal of York Fashion Week?

Ha – this is a big one. We want to make an exciting platform for creatives, which is accessible to the grassroots designers and independent brands. Our aim is to support anyone wanting to work in fashion, who might be trying to figure out their place in the industry. Our focus is to empower anyone who wants to work in fashion, but for whatever reason might think it’s not for them. We want to create opportunity here in Yorkshire.

Nicky Hayer

What’s the most important thing to consider when planning an event?

The guest experience is everything. We want our guests to be excited for the shows, dazzled by the creativity and just not want to leave! We’re working really hard to create shows that will stay with our guests and really evoke some emotion.

We also have to be really careful in ensuring that our designers are properly represented. Because some of our shows are collaborative events, it’s a balancing act of creating a really cohesive show that still feels true to the designer’s vision.

What were the stand out moments of the spring/summer show in April?

The YFW community is really strong and supportive, so firstly it was wonderful to see everyone back, and actually quite emotional for me. That was my highlight. People from within the network have become such good friends too, so my stand out moment was getting to direct shows with people that I really admire. Everyone was cheering each other on and it was quite magical backstage.

In terms of highlights of the overall show though, I’d say one key thing was our team of models. Our models are real people with real lives and everyday worries, who really owned their moment on the runway, most for the very first time! And some of our models are NHS staff, so after the last two years especially, it felt wonderful to celebrate them. 

Yfw Day Four
The spring/summer event

Another key moment was Warpaint, which is fashion designed for those who might be undergoing treatment. The runway show featured models who are living with illness along with models who represented the network that supports them. It was an outstanding segment.

I also personally loved seeing the brands and business owners who just so bravely put themselves out there. Sonia Schofield hosting a makeup masterclass at Space NK, Kat Atkinson hosting a talk about her career in fashion at No.1 Guesthouse, and Boniface x Eliza Lamb welcomed guests into their studio. These events reached such a mix of guests, and in turn they’ve inspired a new load of creatives for October.

And, of course, the talented students. We worked with students from All Saints School, York College, East Riding College, Leeds Art University, York St. John, Northumbria University and more. Students put their work out there in such a brave way, and it felt like an honour to see what the designers of the future are working on and to create a platform for them.

What can we expect from the October event?

You can expect even more theatre and even bigger fashion. We’re going big with our shows, and doubling capacity as our runway shows sold out in spring/summer.

We’ve got some fantastic designers travelling into the city from across the UK. And we have some beautiful collections, which I know will leave a lasting impression. It’s going to be a lot of fun and we’re aiming to make a real impact across the city.


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