• Rachel Peru

Discovering independent fashion designers at Fashion Fiesta Leeds, 2019.

Updated: Dec 26, 2019


I love taking part in runway shows so when the opportunity came around to take part in the Fashion Fiesta 2019, I jumped at the chance. What's not to love about showcasing some fabulous up and coming Yorkshire designers alongside raising money for great charities. From hats to full-on glamour gowns and street styles, the fashion show and mix of designers covered everyones taste.

Simply Devine hats opened the show and I loved the 'hatinators', a clever balance of hat and fascinator run by award-winning milliner and businesswoman Liz Devine-Wright. Simply Devine is a Tadcaster based business which specialises in supplying beautiful Mother of the Bride; wedding hats and race day fascinators to customers up and down the country.


Josephine Bloom @josephinebloom

I am fortunate to have come across Josephine's work before as she very kindly contributed some of her designs for a magazine feature I worked on at the beginning of this year. The feature made the front cover of Canadian fashion magazine Feroce and her designs fit the brief perfectly.


Josephine's collection How Cheap Can You Get? focusses on physical forms of social acceptance. Playing with how society views women as being desirable, and encouraging more freedom in how women express themselves through fashion. Challenging, thought provoking and eye catching.

Fruitbats & Screwballs by Debbie Wilkinson

I am a huge fan of this designer. Debbie chooses beautiful wools and patterns turning them into the most amazing capes and ponchos. She has really managed to take capes to a different level and created something that is so much more flattering and wearable than any traditional capes I've worn. I loved modelling this cape and fell in love with the colours and faux fur detail that creates this eye catching and cosy collar.

I actually can't decide which cape I love most, I've always loved tartan and the colour clash on this one is fabulous. The belt detail and the way it's cut makes these so much more wearable and flattering, especially for bigger busted women who could easily end up looking like a tent in a traditional cape!

Anthony French @af_editions

Anthony French's designs, based in Doncaster really caught my attention and is somebody I would really like to see more of. A collection of knitwear and textile classics with a contemporary twist, I fell in love with this embroidered net skirt; It makes me want to go to a somewhere special next Summer so I can wear it. I love that he mixed it with a jumper to give it a modern more wearable feel to it and at £95 for such a special piece I think it's a reasonable price.

But it was the little touches that Anthony French brings in to his collection that I loved too, this cute colourful handbag finishes the more relaxed day time trouser outfit perfectly.

What's Your Skirt? @whatsyourskirt

Siobhan Thomas describes What’s Your Skirt?’ as being "inspired by 'The Confident Woman', she is a go-getter and knows her identity. The sophisticated and modern well-dressed woman with a twist of individuality is her daily style. She is glamourous, personable and ambitious. She loves bold colour and statement pieces.

I really love this skirt and have added it to my wardrobe wish list so will definitely be following this label.



Bekaka Franck Diabagate

This designer really added full on drama and glamour to the event with his designs. Real show stoppers, these Haute Couture designs are inspired by the late Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. I have to admit I really wanted to walk for this designer and it does seem that older models do get stereotyped when it comes to runway shows. I definitely could have rocked Queen of the catwalk in one of these dresses!

Bekaka Franck Diabagate -Senorita Kahlo collection modelled by Laura Aimee, Fashion Fiesta Leeds 2019. photographer Charles Waller,


I loved the elegance of this outfit, modelling for Mikkimono designed by Sue Gillespie, simplicity and style. As a curvy woman I also loved to hear that Sue was inspired to create a collection that accommodated larger sized people which in fashion design still seems a rarity. It seems a shame that Sue isn't yet on any social media platforms which makes it even harder to find her designs. So how do we find out about independent designers? If you regularly shop away from the high street and are great at sourcing independent designers i'd love some tips as I would really like to head in to 2020 supporting more local independent designers.


I have only included a few of my personal favourites from the evening but the other designers involved are all worth looking into.

Corinne Coolican @coolibycorinnecoolican

Deepinder Kaur @dipskaur88

Jag Kaur - The Ujag Fashion house

Kelsey Locke @kelsealocke

MGE Clothing - Mel Fox @mgetheginme

Salma Badat @salmabadat


Thank you to the Fashion Fiesta team for not only raising awareness of some great designers and offering them an opportunity to be discovered but also for helping raise money for some great charities. This years charities were The Teenage Cancer Trust and the Lee Fancourt Mental Health Trust.


Photographs credited to Charles Waller photography

Rachel Peru, United Kingdom, rachelperumodel@gmail.com