Page last updated at 13:07 GMT, Saturday, 18 July 2009 14:07 UK

Festival fashion with Golden Ticket twist

By Mark Savage
Entertainment reporter, BBC News, Latitude Festival


Designer Johnny BlueEyes and the show's particpants on taking part

When Anna Wintour - the notorious, ferocious editor of Vogue - attends a fashion show, you can bet she doesn't sit on a deck chair.

But then, Wintour has probably never been to a fashion show at a music festival, in the middle of the bulrushes, at the centre of a lake, on the east coast of England.

For forty-five minutes on Friday, the world of wellies collided with high fashion, high camp and high drama at the Latitude Festival, as London's House Of BlueEyes staged what it claimed was the first ever music festival fashion show.

Inspired by the Rolling Stones' Sympathy For The Devil, the theme of the collection was Rock and Roll Vampires.

The predominant colour scheme was black and red, emblazoned across knitted flame suits, skimpy leather jackets and even skimpier skintight jeans.

As the show began, New York performance artist Angel Betsy scampered onto the stage in a sheer black shawl and cerise tights, and dusted the catwalk with glitter - only for it to float away, as the runway was submerged under water.

Technical hitch

Undeterred, she read the show's manifesto in poem form.

"Please don't feed the devil. The devil's trick is mighty slick 'Shove them all aside,' he says, 'Do what you can, to beat the next man.'"

The message was that this extravaganza was all about equality.

The catwalk was submerged with water for the show

The models ranged from the usual, prowling stick-monsters of Milan and Paris, to fuller, rounder figures and (Anna Wintour would be appalled) short people.

"I believe fashion is for everybody," says designer Johnny BlueEyes, "regardless of your age, colour, sexuality, social status."

He added: "Some of my friends are models and some of my friends are painters and decorators, and I think the show should reflect that."

What he fails to mention is that some of his friends are also rock stars (he styles for the likes of Beth Ditto) and drag queens.

In fact, his background as a cabaret act came to the fore at the show after a technical hitch threw the opening number off-kilter.

As the engineer struggled with a skipping CD, Johnny - not the smallest of men - flailed around in a black leather basque and five-inch silver heels, rubbing himself with a union jack and cracking whips onto the stage.

Some of the children in the audience looked a little confused.

Golden Ticket

Once the show got back on track, however, the true stars were revealed.

When the catwalk event was first advertised, Johnny BlueEyes gave five members of the public the chance to be models for the day.

"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was one of my favourite films when I was really young," he explains.

Johnny BlueEyes
I believe fashion is for everybody regardless of your age, colour, sexuality, socia
Johnny BlueEyes

"I used to feel awkward - not beautiful or special - but I eventually got to a place where I fell in love with myself, in the nicest possible way.

"With the Golden Ticket I wanted to share that."

Among today's winners was Michelle, whose boyfriend Pete volunteered her for the show.

His email submission read: "Michelle is fundamentally and purely the most beautiful person in the world, in every single way, far beyond the aesthetic and deep within.

"I am blessed to experience this beauty on a daily basis in the way she looks, speaks and acts, but more profoundly in the way she deals with people and those around her."

When the email arrived, Johnny says, "it brought tears to my eyes".

After just a day of rehearsals, Michelle looked every inch the catwalk pro, in a daring leather and lace outfit, set off with a two-tier choker and mini puffball skirt.

Also joining the cabaret were 47-year-old best friends Sue and Joy, who were dressed as dark diamante dancehall divas.

Joy sent in the Golden Ticket email - just two sentences, explaining that her and Sue had been "mates for 32 years".

"It was a surprise," admits Sue later, as she shows off her headdress ("it's a dead kestrel, apparently").

"I wouldn't normally do anything like this. No way. My mate's an exhibitionist but I'm quiet."

In the end, however, she came out of her shell and "enjoyed every minute of it," as she sashayed across the lake, but maybe not as much as her conspiratorial companion.

"Would I like to do this full time?" asks Joy.

"Definitely. But only if they paid me for it."

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