Fashion to the fore in Belfast Design Week

Belfast Design Week takes to the runway again with an even more imaginative programme. Gail Bell finds everything from fashion to spectacles, food and film on an extended agenda

Founders of Belfast Design Week, from left: Christine James, Catherine McGinnis, Karla McNally, and Karishma Kusurkar

A REINVIGORATED Belfast Design Week returns this weekend, pushing creative boundaries still further following a dazzling debut last year.

Running from Saturday (November 5) until Friday (November 11), a fashionably crowded 2016 programme showcases all that is inventive and visionary from the best of Belfast's designers and makers, from fashion, film and cuisine, to street art, graphics and even a walk through the city's lesser-known architectural highlights.

The importance of design is explored in business, culture, leisure; in screaming billboards, fashion runways, flamboyant exhibitions and also in the quiet corners of everyday life.

"Design is everywhere," said Jessica Fok, one of the core members of the design week team responsible for pulling together over 20 different events and engaging design enthusiasts from all backgrounds.

"The festival has been extended this year to include different elements such as film and culinary design and the aim is to highlight and celebrate Belfast's thriving creative and innovation sectors with a week-long itinerary of independent and fringe events held in various locations throughout the city.

"Successful core events from last year such as Design Camp, Homegrown, Share6 and Design Science are also reappearing on the schedule."

Founded by Catherine McGinnis, co-founder of Maven; Karishma Kusurkar, multidisciplinary designer; Christine James, co-founder of Blick Shared Studios; and Karla McNally, owner of Bill & Coo Paper Co, Belfast Design Week is a voluntary organisation that uniquely pays homage to the north's high calibre of innovators.

"The debut Belfast Design Week was a huge success and its return is testament to the city's interest and passion for great design, whether that is web design or interior design," said co-founder Karishma Kusurkar.

Among the many highlights is a 'Designed By' fashion show to run at The Mac on Tuesday (November 8) which will showcase collections from Northern Ireland designers, offering both ready-to-wear and occasion wear, and including brands such as Attune Womenswear with its botanical manufacturing principles, and Tamsin Blackbourn's sustainable female range.

Recent graduates from the Ulster University Kyree Forrest and Jeremy Huddleson, and former Belfast Metropolitan student Gordon Donaldson will represent the next generation of designers, while collections from established designers RUEDI and Marie-Claire Ferguson will also be modelled at the show.

"With the state of the current retail market, we're past the stage of people purchasing clothes for the pretty-factor," curator Jessica Fok says.

"Sophistication in consumer purchases means individuals now consider product durability, versatility, and production source before buying.

"We hope 'Designed By' highlights how local designers are adapting to these market changes while still presenting the flair of their brand signatures."

:: Full details can be found at


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