THE WINCHESTER Fashion Week 2017 launch party took place at The Corner House bar on Tuesday.

All the movers and shaker's of Winchester's fashion scene were there including local designers, retailers, Winchester BID, and Winchester University who are the principle sponsor of the event.

Winchester Business Improvement District (BID) organised the event and Catherine Turness, the executive director said: "The reason we took on Fashion Week was that we wanted to showcase the vast range of fashion retailers in Winchester. To show it's a great place to shop. We especially want to celebrate independent retailers. Winchester has 25 different festivals and this is the only fashion we feel its important BID continue its involvement with it and to provide an exciting event."

Winchester BID's event organiser for Fashion Week is Paul Spencer who said: "This is my first year organising the event although I've done fashion projects before such as the Enliven Fashion Project which was based in Eastleigh. That was about local artists and designers with a fashion theme. This is about what Winchester has to offer across the board including national retailers, local independent retailers, university courses and students and local designers. This is bigger and broader in scope."

He added: "Winchester BID is involved as we hold events that bring people into the city, we want Winchester to be a thriving business community and this event promotes Winchester as a place of fashion, style and creativity. That has to be good for the business community."

One special event during Fashion Week that was mentioned was a Jane Austen themed evening on April 25 entitled The Empire Line Strikes Back: Jane Austen meets the 1960's. This looks at the history of the 'Empire Line Dress' from Jane Austen's Regency period to the fashion of the Swinging Sixties. This will take place at the independent Winchester vintage fashion shop Stardust Years. Historical costumier Helen McArdle and shop owner Karen Fitzsimmons will host the evening. Karen said: Our Jane Austen themed event is special as it will show how the Empire Line Dress has gone through different versions from the Regency Period and it came back in a big way in the 1960's. Then with the Mad Men TV series being shown interest in it started all over again."

The Fashion Week will showcase some local talent including jewellery designer Chrissi Harcourt-Wood whose company is Rubi Warren. Chrissi was at the launch party and said: "We've just moved here from London and Fashion Week is about connecting with my local market and my business community, particularly independent retailers. I'm hoping to get myself known. I'm building a customer base here and I'm hoping to open something in Winchester in the future, a shop or a workshop."

Another local talent at the launch party was Deborah Dalton a milliner who works from a studio in Chandlers Ford. Deborah said of Winchester Fashion Week: "It is important as it gives me a showcase for my unique and original ladies hats. What I aim to show is that every woman can wear a hat that compliments their outfit, reflects their personality and most importantly gives a sense of 'joie de vivre' to any occasion."