LAURA Russell is the person you want next to you when you are out trawling the clothing rails on a Saturday afternoon pondering your latest wardrobe addition.
The stylist and fashion blogger knows what’s trending before Twitter. She knows where to find the best, quirkiest, coolest clothing and accessories not to be found on the high street. And she knows that what Edinburgh really needs is a big fashion event.
Next weekend sees the launch of Edinburgh Fashion Week which will celebrate all that is sophisticated and fun when it comes to Capital style and clothing. There have been attempts in the past to put the city firmly on the fashion map – Vivienne Westwood and Matthew Williamson staged jaw-dropping catwalk shows during a one-off festival in 2006, Edinburgh model Anna Freemantle has recently run a smaller version of a fashion festival and Edinburgh College of Art’s fashion degree show always makes headlines – but nothing has ever quite stuck.
That, believes Russell, is all about to change. “Edinburgh Fashion Week is an event which should have a future because it’s based on what is on offer in Edinburgh, where people can actually go and shop once they’ve seen the shows and visited the events,” says Laura, pictured.
“Having major couture designers is exciting, but for most people the clothes are out of reach. This fashion week will show what is in Edinburgh stores – and it will show just how versatile, stylish and cutting edge they are.
“There are great independent stores all over Edinburgh and part of the fun is finding them. In the Grassmarket, I love Swish Boutique which is amazing for cute, girly dresses and they have wonderful leather bags in at the moment.
“There’s Armstrong’s obviously for vintage but I also love Godiva which stocks a lot of Scottish brands and up-and-coming designers.”
She adds: “In the West End I head for Just G which has a great size range, up to 18. There’s also Frontiers – I’m currently lusting after a geometric coat they have – and Sam Brown which is brilliant for everyday pieces, tunics and tops.
“There’s Thistle Street and ALC which stocks fab jeans from £50. Not all these shops are expensive – that’s another myth. Kakao by K is where I go for statement jewellery and of course for real designer wear there’s Jane Davidson.”
Stockbridge also holds hidden gems, says Laura, including Eden and the Stockbridge Boutique. “And for men I’d always recommend Xile, it has lots of great Scottish brands.
“People should venture to new stores rather than stick with the same old high street ones where you know what you’ll get every time. There’s nothing intimidating about small boutiques, the staff are friendly and of course they want to sell, but they are very knowledgeable and will always help you out by recommending other places if they don’t have what you want.”
Laura, who will be MC at various fashion week events and hold a talk about dressing for body shape, adds: “I think this event is really important for Edinburgh. We should be celebrating the shops and stores that are here, and in bringing them together for this week people can see what really is available out there.
“People tend to shop from one end of Princes Street to the other, possibly venturing into George Street, but that way they’ll never see what the independents have to offer. They need to get beyond that to find out what really makes Edinburgh style different.”
n Edinburgh Fashion Week runs from March 7-15, kicking off with the Big Weekend on March 7-8 at The Mound. Visit
thisisedinburgh.com for full details.