A former model from Lisburn is inviting people to reach for the ra-ra skirts and launder the legwarmers in preparation for a big night of 1980s-inspired fun.
Julie Duckworth is organising the Walk of Life fashion show, which will raise funds for two very worthy causes in memory of her late parents, Sheila and John.
The retro-inspired gala will take place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Belfast on Friday, April 28 and will feature some of the very same fashionistas who were there, slap-bang at the heart of the vibrant 1980s fashion scene.
Julie is organising the event to raise much-needed funds for two charities close to her heart - Parkinson’s UK and The Boom Foundation.
Julie’s father died 18 years ago from cancer and her mother passed away in September 2014 after battling Parkinson’s Disease.
“It’s a terrible disease. I watched my mum die and she lost the ability to swallow towards the end and that’s what Parkinson’s can do - it is horrendous. That’s why I wanted to do something to raise funds for Parkinson’s UK,” she told the Ulster Star.
“The show is for the two charities, but it is also in memory of my mum and dad - it’s for them as well. It’s a way for me to get closure and to honour them in some way. I just thought ‘my parents were really important to me and I’m going to make a big deal of it’.”
Julie, who moved to Lisburn with her family from north west England in the late 1960s, says she was “completely broken” after her mum’s death. But with time proving a real healer, she is now trying to do something positive in her parents’ memory.
With the help of Cathy Martin from CMPR, director of Belfast Fashion Week, Julie is organising a spectacular catwalk show that will feature the latest on trend fashions. But there will be more than a nod to the theme of the event thanks to an ‘80s-inspired soundtrack, hair styles and make-up, as well as DeLorean cars and actors in ‘80s costumes.
“Earlier this year I met with Cathy and had the idea to organise a charity fashion show with some of the key models from the 1980s with a retro-themed backdrop, in particular the music and film footage from that era. I had also noticed that there was a new trend for 50+ models and decided to pull all our ideas together into one fundraising extravaganza.
“The show is going to be very entertaining, spectacular and fun, but there is also going to be a serious element to it. Although it’s ‘80s the models are still going to be wearing on trend fashion and the show will be produced by Cathy and will be billed as a Belfast Fashion Week show.
“It’s not ‘80s fashion, but the models will have a taste of the ‘80s - their hair will be ‘80s, their make-up will be ‘80s. I also wanted to do something a bit different so there will be a celebrity catwalk,” Julie explained.
The hotel sales manager has signed up some of Northern Ireland’s best-known celebrities to take part and has already secured the support of Nuala McKeever, John Linehan, Tim McGarry, Mary Peters and George Jones, as well as some current and former TV and radio hosts.
The former Aiken Promotions employee has also managed to secure support films from some big name celebrities including Jamie Dornan, Adrian Dunbar, Jimmy Nesbitt and Eamonn Holmes, which will be screened on the night.
Belfast Lord Mayor Brian Kingston will officially open the event, while Cool FM breakfast show host Pete Snodden will DJ the after-show 1980s disco.
While 1980s dress isn’t compulsory, Julie says a lot of people are keen to dress up and spot prizes will be up for grabs throughout the night for those who make the biggest effort.
The 51-year-old, who formerly worked in the Benetton store on Bow Street before starting her modelling career at the age of 18, was runner up in the Miss Northern Ireland pageant in 1984 and spent the next 10 years as a successful photographic model, appearing in various advertisements and campaigns in the local media.
The mother-of-one retired from modelling at the age of 30, but missed the fun and camaraderie so much that now, 20 years on, she is back once again gracing the catwalks and fulfilling the industry’s growing desire for older models.
Proving that you’re never too old to be in vogue, Julie has recruited a select team of (now) fifty-something models who cut their teeth during the New Romantic era to return to the catwalk once again to raise money for the two worthy causes.
“I had this idea because I love the 80s - I suppose because it’s my era and I had great fun then,” she said. “So I thought I would love to do this really unique fashion show set to an ‘80s music backdrop, and I thought if I can do that then I can raise money for Parkinson’s UK and The Boom Foundation.
“I am really delighted with the support so far – from industry and from friends. We’ve sold out our front row tickets already, but have availability for the rest of the seats and we would love a full house.”
Delighted that tickets sales have “really started to fly” over the past couple of weeks, Julie added: “It’s all very exciting and it’s going to be quite a high profile event. Really the objective is to raise as much money as possible for the charities. I can’t really give a figure, it depends on how many tickets we sell, but I’d like to think it will be more than £10,000.”
The Walk of Life show will take place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel (formerly Ramada Plaza), Shaw’s Bridge on Friday, April 28.
Tickets, priced £30 each, are available from Belfast Welcome Centre Box Office on 028 9024 6609 or via the visitbelfast.com website.
The ticket price includes a sparkling wine reception plus a vintage video presentation pulled together by the team at Lyle Bailie, Julie’s former employers, along with the Walk of Life Fashion Show and celebrity entertainment. There will also be a performance by Ian Wilson (former guitarist with Sweet Savage) followed by an ‘80s disco.
For more information about the event, or to donate raffle prizes or discuss sponsorship opportunities, call Julie on 07435 761353 or email firstname.lastname@example.org