Capital gearing up for second Fashion Festival

Jacob Birge's technology-inspired collection will be a highlight at the Fashion Festival. Picture: TSPL
Jacob Birge's technology-inspired collection will be a highlight at the Fashion Festival. Picture: TSPL
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EDINBURGH International Fashion Festival will begin its second year on Friday with a glittering array of industry names attached to its bulging ­programme.

Not resting on the success of last year’s body of work, the masterminds behind the festival, Anna and Jonathan Freemantle have cherry-picked a programme that ­covers all facets of fashion. The husband and wife duo have poured their heart and soul into this year’s programme and it is this personal connection between themselves and their guests that creates the backbone to the week-long event.

Festival director Anna has just returned home to Auld Reekie from a month ­modelling the couture shows between Milan and Paris.

Her little black book reads like a ‘who’s who’ of models, designers, photographers and artists; something she is very ­modest about, which gives the festival an edge and air of credibility. Despite nabbing big design names such as Clements Ribeiro, and giving die-hard fashionistas access to Bella Freud and Amanda Harlech (creative ­consultant to Karl Lagerfeld), the pair are shining a spotlight on up-and-­coming home-grown talent.

Jacob Birge graduated from Edinburgh College of Art last summer. His work was the stand-out collection for me that year, eclipsing classmates with his avant-garde garbs that seemed compelling to the ­wearer. Since then he has set up a studio at Summerhall, off the Meadows, just a few doors down from Johnathan Freemantle’s studio and gone from strength to strength.

“It isn’t often a young designer makes such rapid development so quickly after graduating and in such a complete way.

He’s a big talent but also very close to being the complete package already which is very exciting,” says Johnathan.

Birge’s latest collection is a joy to view and wear, incorporating technology into fashion by taking inspiration from ­computer micro chips on a monochrome backdrop. There is a strong couture element to his approach, yet the pieces are utterly wearable. It’s where sports luxe morphs into rock chic, depending on how the ­wearer is feeling. His work is ultimately defined by the individual wearing it.

I suppose it encapsulates the essence of his women completely; fiercely feminine with a hard edge, someone who doesn’t like to be defined by one thing. He is a bit of a renaissance man. Taking control of all aspects of the creative process. It’s not just about designing clothes as he also writes, directs, shoots and makes his own music, immersing himself in the creative process.

That energy flows through his work making him not only the most exciting designers from Edinburgh, but the most exciting up and coming designer of the moment.

Highlights at the Edinburgh International Fashion Festival

The Edinburgh International Fashion Festival runs from July 19 to 28 across a number of venues, including the City Art Centre, Summerhall and Harvey Nichols.

The programme of events includes shows, exhibitions, gala parties and talks. Here are just a few highlights:

Sunday July 21: Symposium: Talks and Moderated Panel Discussion, featuring Bella Freud and Amanda Harlech (Summerhall, 10am).

Wednesday July 24: Location Scotland: Open studio and exhibit (107 Constitution Street, 6pm)

Saturday July 27: Future Fashion: Design market and runway show. Showcasing Scottish design talent such as Jacob Birge (who will show his latest collection), Obscure Couture and Bebaroque (City Art Centre, 10am).

For full listings and ticket information, visit