The Diary: Move over Milan, SY is in fashion...

Catwalk show at the Charles Street Car Park
Catwalk show at the Charles Street Car Park
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LONDON. Paris. Milan. Er... Sheffield?

When it comes to passions for fashion, it’s perhaps fair to say South Yorks isn’t exactly New York. It’s more steel than sequins, not so much Lily Cole as mining coal.

But - a warning - don’t say so to Ben Sequerra.

“That attitude is exactly what’s wrong with this city,” he says. “We’re too modest. We don’t sell ourselves. We don’t make the most of the talent we have.”

It is something he hopes to put right.

For, today, Ben announces details of the second biennial Sheffield Fashion Week - and he promises the catwalks, keynote speakers and design competitions will ensure the September event is bigger and better than ever.

Think models mooching at Magna, a catwalk show in a car park and city designers displaying their drapes on the walkways of the Winter Garden. Think talks at Thornbridge Hall in Derbyshire and fringe shows exhibiting both the finest fashion from the world’s biggest labels (Paul Smith, anyone?) and independent clobber created right here.

But don’t think that just because you might not know your Gucci from your grunge, that this week of wardrobe ideas isn’t for you. It is, says Ben...

“It annoys me that fashion is seen as an elite thing,” says the father-of-two who runs city recruitment consultancy firm Pro-Executive. “My granddad wasn’t a rich man but he wore a suit everywhere. Even to the beach.

“London Fashion Week might be for the press and people who have more money than sense. But SFW is the complete opposite. It’s for Sheffielders to come and take part in. We’re actually looking for amateur models for one or two shows if any Star readers are interested...”

Among the unusual events already confirmed will be a show at the Cheesgrater car park in Charles Street (“showing off the city centre’s retail offerings”) and a professional model event at Magna, a steelworks-turned-adventure-centre, where the latest releases by big name labels should be on show.

“We’re in talks with designers about having their collections come here after London Fashion Week,” says Ben, who grew up in Sharrow but now lives in the city centre. For the record, he’s aware Magna is in Rotherham - “but it’s all the city region,” he notes.

Other events? There’ll be a competition for city design students, while it is hoped fashionistas will come forward to host fringe shows.

“The council is helping by giving up 60 city billboards to advertise,” says Ben. “But we also want people to come along, help out and get involved.”

He also has a big-name Sheffield celebrity lined up to be the face of the whole thing. Who? It’s a secret for now, to be revealed when the website goes live next month.

But it all means the extravaganza should build on the success of 2011. Then some 1,200 people attended a handful of events including shows at the Cathedral and the city centre’s Mercure hotel.

“I hadn’t planned on doing another,” says Ben, who like a proper fashionista diva refuses to divulge his age. “It’s such hard work because I do it in my spare time but so many people kept coming up to me and saying I should that I just thought, ‘Fine, I will, but it’s going to be even better second time round’.”

“Ultimately, I’m just passionate about Sheffield and about clothes - and that’s what this is about.”

Profits will go to a charity to be decided.

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SHEFFIELD Fashion Week takes place September 21 - 28. Events include:

Models at Magna: The latest creations by big name labels - such as Paul Smith - will be exhibited by top models (September 28).

Catwalk in the car park: High street and independent retailers from the city centre will show off their wares on local volunteer models. Among stores signed up are Atkinsons, BHS, Seasons Clothing and Taylor Taylor hairdressers (September 26).

Dinner at Thornbridge Hall: A ticketed dinner, talk and intimate catwalk display at the Derbyshire stately home (September 21).

Designers competition: Young creatives will display their wares at an iconic venue to be confirmed with the chance to win a fashion contract (September 24).