Photography: Steven Popovich

High-street fashion juggernaut C&A hosted a fashion spectacle inside the historic archways of Fort Legionów in Warsaw, Poland on November 14. Showcasing their spring/summer 2020 collections to 215 fashion press and influencers from 17 countries, the brand drove home it’s theme of the night “Fashion Is In Our Nature” and it’s vision to establish sustainability as the new norm.

Hours before the event is set to begin, the amber-lit dressing room is surprisingly calm. “Girl number one, you can start,” says the runway director, looking over his black-framed spectacles while sipping a steaming cup of tea. “Stop. Can you take your position? OK, play the music again.” Crew members are busily moving mannequins, painting canvases and winding and weaving greenery around the steel frameworks in the middle of the catwalk – all while munching on some delicious Polish fare.

Designers are taking final rehearsal notes and with over 100 looks and assistants are working in overdrive as they practice very quick garment changes on models. Heaters to combat the city’s arctic temperatures are being fired up and lights are being tested to align with the night’s opening track “Spaces” by American singer-songwriter Dawn Richard. “I had so many men in power telling me I was too brave, too confident, too black, too ugly, too thin” the lyrics read.

“It was really important to me that we opened with those words because we’re looking at diversity,” C&A’s Senior Design Manager for its young fashion Clockhouse line, Neale Pickering, told GRAZIA backstage. “I’ve had sleepless nights wondering how the music producers were going to mix that. I know if something gives me goose bumps though, you’ve got it right.”

Photography: Steven Popovich

At 5pm, guests began checking in their overcoats to take their chic attires to the photo wall. Sipping a prosecco with a sprig of rosemary, fashion press and influencers congregated in small little circles of three or four in the red-lit alcoves of the fortress. Many were admiring the brickwork while others were angling their phones for Instagram shots of the beautiful windows which teased glimpses of the runway. Strangers were asking other strangers if they could take a picture. And another. And “Wait, could we do one more?” Guests, after all, were privy to one of the most exclusive invites in fashion that Thursday evening in Poland and wanted to document it.

Photography: Steven Popovich
Photography: Steven Popovich

Before the runway show, people were invited to leisurely explore each collection in different rooms of the fortress, a walkway of sorts which brought them to the centre of the property, the inner courtyard and the site for the show. It was here that the runway, decorated as an “urban meadow”, lit up.

Photography: Steven Popovich

LADIES COLLECTION

C&A’s new Ladies spring/summer 2020 collection reflects on the close connection between the urban and the natural; a symbiosis between vibrant city life and the regenerating power of nature. Floral prints in the form of flowing dresses with cinched waists intermix with tiered voluminous silhouettes. One dress in particular – a balloon sleeve known as the “White Volume Sleeve Dress” – garners many nods and whispers from show-goers. As do the “High-Waisted Cigarette Pants” which are made from organic cotton. Another – the “Knitted Dress In Rusty Red – gains mental ticks of approvals on its craftsmanship when viewed up close.

The styles reflect C&A’s increasing awareness of sustainability with many pieces made with certified organic cotton or sustainable fibres. “Inspired by the 70s and 80s, the collection is about floral prints, long skirts, lace and ruffles,” C&A’s director of buying for the Ladies division, Brigitte Danielmeyer tells GRAZIA. “We are using lace which is derived from recycled polyester. It’s about dramatic femininity and with really beautiful fabrics and drape reflecting nature, it’s very wearable in an urban environment.”

LADIES PREMIUM COLLECTION

Paying homepage to the sharp tailoring, broad blazering and power dressing trend of the international runways, C&A sent bold, feminine suiting down its spring/summer 2020 runway. The deftly cut lollipop pink blazer and pant combo was one of the crowd favourite (and made from certified organic cotton), a close second to the line’s linen “Trench Coat In Sand”. The blouse options in this line are really strong too, many with voluminous sleeves which can be teamed perfectly with a long-belted skirt.

SWIMWEAR

Next up were the bikinis and bathing suits of which some are made from 80 per cent recycled nylon and come in an array of animal prints and muted colours like moss green and chocolate. With options that include criss-cross banding, waist ties and one-shoulders, the cuts are very flattering. One show-goer visibly gasped in awe at our favourite piece; a stunning two-toned, one-piece suit with a plunging neckline, high waistline and open back.

BRIDAL

A special highlight to the evening was C&A’s Bridal collection. Flattering cuts and a size range catering to all women including plus-size and maternity, the line favours intricate lace details. “Most of the lace is cotton-based,” says Danielmeyer. “The other is recyclable polyester lace. It’s feminine and the range has a very good price point.”

Photography: Steven Popovich

CLOCKHOUSE

Rooted in denim, this collection is inspired by the 90s and celebrates individuality and diversity in its young wearer. “White is a big trend coming from the catwalks,” explains Pickering. “We sell black and white really well and we decided to have pieces that were predominantly white with black accents.”

For the first time Pickering fused the Clockhouse Girls design team and Boys design team to work on the denim collection. What resulted was a 90s-inspired denim collection of overalls, jackets and jeans to mix with the white pieces. All denim garments are made with recycled cotton, a fabric design process which begins six to eight months prior to the runway show.

This is contrasted to pieces in the feminine grunge line. “Utility-wear and grunge have been a really big trend for us over the last six to 12 months,” Pickering continues. “We wanted to make it really feminine and so there’s lots of ditzy florals – little tiny compact florals – and we contrasted this with a hard utility grunge direction.”

The show comes to a close as the lights dim on the urban meadow and applause rings loud, C&A inviting each and every guest to #WearTheChange in our own sustainability practices.

C&A’s Ladies and Ladies Premium will be available in C&A stores and online from March 2020. The Clockhouse collection will be available from December 2019.

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