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Edinburgh Fringe 2009

Miss High Leg Kick’s Fashion Bus

Colchester Arts Centre/Escalator East to Edinburgh/British Council Supported

Venue: Fashion Bus, Grassmarket


Low Down

For this week only, Edinburgh’s Grassmarket becomes home to a large outdoor catwalk and gets a little taste of London life for half an hour a day (twice on Saturday). The show, created by Colchester Arts Centre, appeared in its original incarnation on Dr Roberts’ Magic Bus at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2006 and was transformed into an outdoor spectacular for London’s Trafalgar Square Festival in 2008.  This year’s return visit to the Fringe has been facilitated by Escalator East to Edinburgh, a unique organisation which supports companies from the eastern region of England.


This free street treat drew a large appreciative audience. As the music reminded us that “The Best Things in Life are Free” what unfolded before our eyes was a fashion show with its tongue firmly in its cheek; a warts and all celebration of everyday life. The stated aim is to make the ordinary extraordinary so what we see is far removed from the haute couture of the fashion houses of Paris and Milan.

The string of characters spilling out of the London bus onto the catwalk represents the folk who really do travel on London buses; some amusingly exaggerated, others neatly understated. If you follow the freely distributed programme carefully you will see that we are taken on a geographically questionable but sociologically accurate journey from Peckham to Leicester Square, where each stop along the route has its own special feature.

This is fashion with a small f. One might also describe it as theatre with a small t, dance with a small d or even art with a small a, but it is definitely Street entertainment with a great big capital S, displaying 21st century culture in all its shabby glory. There are young men in hoodies and low slung jeans, buggy pushing yummy mummies in tight trousers and skimpy tops, a banana-clad marathon runner, a bowler-hatted city banker and tackily tarted-up hen night revellers prancing to all those singalong and dancealong essentials we love to hate.

The only glimpse of the classier brand names is on a plethora of carrier bags with which the truly leggy Miss High Leg Kick herself (creator, Francesca Baglione) elegantly tussles at the New Bond Street stop.

Free fans and programmes are a nice touch but if the show didn’t get as much applause as it deserved this was because we were finding it difficult to hold onto these as well as our own general street baggage and put our hands together at the same time.

This is a fun format which says what it says in a fairly original way but doesn’t say anything new. It could be further developed and would benefit from some more creative choreography of the calibre of the creator’s own cameo flight of the bag-laden fashion victim. It is certainly entertaining but is it art? You decide.





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