It is a mild autumnal evening in St Albans city centre. We walk into our wonderful new museum and are handed a free glass of bubbly. The entire building is brightly lit and I enjoy mingling with lots of familiar local faces. Everybody is looking pretty fashionable and ready to be wowed by a showcase of the latest global brands and fashion trends in our local boutiques.

An announcement is made and we’re shown to our seats in the assembly room. Light from the shimmering chandeliers illuminates the space, their sparkling crystals catch the blue and pink neon lighting up the catwalk. I’m over the moon with my front-row ticket in hand.

Our witty host, DJ and celebrity hairdresser introduce the evening. The first few bars of Prince’s Kiss get us into the mood and it’s time for lights, camera and action in this perfect venue where the old meets the new.

A parade of models stride in wearing an eclectic mix of beautiful long and short dresses. The Dressing Room collection is always among my favourites. This year I’m particularly struck by a flowing silk maxi dress splashed with moons, suns and shooting stars! I love that it is celestially inspired and evokes that 1970s glam rock elegance and femininity.

Next, we’re transported by the energetic tunes of Blondie’s Rapture. French Connection has gone a little bit 1980s this season and a petite model with a big attitude struts onto the catwalk wearing a shocking pink suit. The 1980s was a materialistic era and if your ego wasn’t healthy you weren’t going to get noticed.

The crowd are absorbed by the latest collections. I love the fact that it’s all high street fashion and not a fantastical runway show with elaborate narratives and special effects. The fact that it’s not haute couture and that we can all shop locally for these beautiful boutique designs at a relatively affordable price is fine with me.

Chaka Khan booms out next, calling for something a little more sporty and street style. A fellow fashionista seated beside me agrees that the Sweaty Betty infamous bum-sculpting leggings bursting with colourful firework and star designs from their autumn look-book are fantastic.

Ferrari and Monti’s eclectic and inspired collection adds a little sophistication as a tall model appears with a long tailored dress with brushed vertical lines in blue and red and looks as if she is actually wearing a Chagall painting.

I’m mesmerized by an amazing fitted dress in bright turquoise with an unusual sequin design of a mirror image of two embroidered kingfishers in flight, iridescent under the neon lights. It is exquisite! Immediately afterwards, I spot another one of their dresses in black velvet, asymmetrical in design with a light silver puff sleeve on only one of the shoulders. I’d love to wear that!

I think it was Vivienne Westwood who once said that fashion should be “life-enhancing” and that’s just how I’m feeling tonight, lifted and buoyed by the funky music and fashion. It has been an impressive showcase of design packed with timeless styles, clean lines, frills, distinctive prints and perfect tailoring.

I step out into the cool night air feeling inspired. Fashion never fails to bring people together; it is a celebration in creativity, empowering and inspiring women to express a more confident femininity; you don’t have to spend thousands or try to imitate some vacuous celebrity; on the contrary, it’s fun to put things together to fit your own unique personality and body shape, and celebrate your own individual style!

  • Marisa Laycock moved from south west London to St Albans in 2000. She enjoys sharing her experiences of living in the city.