Fashion: Dickens of a Christmas at Leeds’ Victoria Quarter

It’s going to be a grand old Christmas, a Dickens of a Christmas, as opulence and drama bring playfulness and a real sense of enjoyment back to dressing up.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 7th December 2015, 9:51 am
Multi colour Safa short sleeve knit, £145; Jilly green velvet quilt skirt, £155; Maraki coat, £475. All at Sandro. Heart 4 Heart split bag, £370, at Folli
Multi colour Safa short sleeve knit, £145; Jilly green velvet quilt skirt, £155; Maraki coat, £475. All at Sandro. Heart 4 Heart split bag, £370, at Folli

Because dressing up is exactly what we’re talking about for this festive season. We’re done with minimalism, austerity measures and playing safe. We want tantalising, floor-sweeping, statement designs that shimmer with sophistication, bringing bold, elegant shapes in luxe 
fabrics – velvet, lace, satin – with embellishment and jewels – large ones.

This new grandeur has been inspired by a classy collision of fashion themes, including the Eighties revival which characterises much of the season; tailoring which means the waist is back for women while men find a new dapperness; and Victoriana, with lace, ruffles and high necklines – although the overall look for all these trends is sleeker than their original manifestations. For men, think dashing and daring, with a knowing nod and an insouciant swagger, pushing the boundaries with flamboyant but impeccable taste. Texture is all-important, with silk, velvet, cord and knitwear achieving new levels of sumptuousness in sartorial festive dressing.

This is a season to shine, with fabrics that shimmer and gleam in rich shades of burnt orange, forest green, royal blue and amethyst, though black and gold are key. Metallic printing, embossed fabrics, sequins and lurex bring resplendent luxe effects.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Multi colour Safa short sleeve knit, £145; Jilly green velvet quilt skirt, £155; Maraki coat, £475. All at Sandro. Heart 4 Heart split bag, £370, at Folli

For our fashion shoot, we teamed up with Northern Ballet, which performs The Nutcracker at Leeds Grand Theatre from December 16, with dancers Tobias Batley and Grace Robinson taking time out to model. The backdrop for our shoot, and provider of all clothes and accessories, was the Victoria Quarter in Leeds, which is looking fabulously festive right now, with a new look tree (quite the thing this year – witness the Burberry one at Claridge’s) and late night shopping throughout December. Home to many of Yorkshire’s most impressive and 
beautiful fashion stores, the Victoria Quarter was designed around the turn of the last century by theatre architect Frank Matcham, responsible for the London Palladium and Coliseum, who was commissioned to create two streets, an elaborate arcade and the Empire Theatre (now the site of Harvey Nichols). It fell into decay but a restoration plan began in the 1980s, using an original shop front that had remained in pristine condition as a blueprint to recreate the mahogany frames and gilded art nouveau lettering that now grace every shop. Christmas is when it really comes into its own.

The make-up look was created by the team at Illamasqua, which has a stunning two-storey store in the VQ and a mission to inspire us all to take pride in everything we are and all we aspire to become – a lovely festive message. Hair was styled by nearby Renegade Hair Studio, creating the sleek, polished looks that work best with this beautifully dressed season of fashion. It’s beginning to look at lot like Christmas.

See interviews with the models and stylists in our behind-the-scenes video, online at

Northern Ballet performs The Nutcracker at Leeds Grand Theatre from December 16 to January 2. The company also begins its spring 2016 tour with performances of Swan Lake, also at Leeds Grand Theatre, from March 3-12. Tickets for both are on sale now and can be booked online at or by calling the box office on 0844 848 2700.

Tobias wears: Cotton twill trousers, £129; dark Oxford slim shirt in olive, £69; plain front Derby boot, £249; red gingham scarf, £49. All from jigsaw Grace wears: Leather skater skirt, £149; cashmere red jumper, £149; faux fur scarf, £59; Tilly suede pointed court shoes, £149; clutch bag, £45; necklace and bracelet, from a selection at Folli Follie.


All clothes, jewellery and accessories from the Victoria Quarter in Leeds, with special thanks to Reiss, Sandro, Jigsaw, Folli Follie and Carat.

Photographs: James Hardisty

Styling: Stephanie Smith

Velvet grey blazer, £275; Medway twill blackchinos, £95; Observatory merino roll neck navy jumper, £85; velvet evening slippers black, £175. All from Reiss.

Fashion, photography and videography assistants: Katie Elsworth and Alex Taylor.

Hair: Thomas Worth and Charlotte Hopkinson from Renegade Hair Studio;

Make up: Illamasqua at the Victoria Quarter in Leeds, by Claire Mosley and Kiri Robinson.

Models: Tobias Batley and Grace Robinson from Northern Ballet.

Tobias wears: Black tuxedo suit, £450; silk bordeaux scarf, £60; silk polka dot burgundy hanky, £25; knitted silk black bow tie, £50; slim fit white dinner shirt, £95; patent shoes, £245. All from Reiss.