FS In Focus: Through the Lens of a Model

By Joe Charuy

FS is undeniably a St Andrews institution. A staple of the social calendar, FS is the biggest, best-known and most-highly anticipated student-run event in town. Its production reflects many of the defining characteristics of the St Andrews student body: creativity, professionality, sartorial exhibitionism & an astute social conscience.

I must admit, on the face of things, FS can seem a bit intimidating. As a first-year, I arrived at model castings only to back out immediately; I was overwhelmed by the composure, style, and, frankly, the good looks of those around me as I waited in the hotel lobby of the Russacks. Nevertheless, encouraged by friends and the members I had come to know on FS after a year at Uni, I gathered the courage to try again in second-year and haven’t looked back since.

FS2020 marked my second show as a model and my first as a committee member. I decided to capture the week in the run-up to the show on my Yashica Samurai x3.0 - a bizarre-looking, ergonomic half-film camera, voted Japan’s best in 1988, that I fell in love with when I saw one at an FS shoot some months prior.

The desire to bring the camera on stage stemmed from my previous year’s experience at the show. Even though the night is well-documented from the audience’s perspective, my personal experience of the show couldn’t be well captured by the photographers on the main floor. You don’t actually remember much of the show when you’re involved or on stage. After weeks of practice, the evening seems to go by in a split-second. As such, I’ll always hold dear these blink-or-you’ll-miss-it moments that I managed to capture.

I love this pair of images for so many reasons. They illustrate the same moment, the same people, however from vastly different perspectives. The first, an outsider looking in; the second, a member of the group, part of the fun and the manic elation that comes with finishing the show. One presents an exclusion of the onlooker, and the other the comradery strengthened by many late-night practices and (too many!) early morning gym sessions.

These photos illustrate exactly what the show is all about – smiles and celebration of a job well done, all in support of a wonderful cause. The image of my friend Jono rising through the crowd like Superman, (top left) will never cease to make me laugh. The views of my friends Abby, Pippa, Jasmine, and Elliot reaching out to me (cover photo) as we all spilled out onto the stage in the final celebratory walk is incredibly sentimental. As I challenged my inhibitions and exited my comfort zone the love and support shown in that photo meant the world to me.

To those wondering what FS is truly like, these are the photos that tell the real story. FS, to those involved, is a family. In my case, perhaps a bit more literally - my girlfriend, my two flatmates, and two academic children are all part of FS either as committee members or models. But the bond created during the weeks of our events is unmistakable as everyone huddles together in big puffers under an unheated tent day after day ahead of the show from 9AM to 11PM rehearsing making sure every move is perfect.

I think it’s easy to stereotype people involved with the fashion shows in this town as taking themselves too seriously. Admittedly, the image projected by indoor shade-wearing committee members of the past definitely hasn’t helped that cause. But FS becomes personal to all involved. We do take it seriously. We want everything to be perfect - not just for ourselves because we are so haughty, but because we don’t want to let our team down, and also to make the night the best possible for our friends who pay a pretty penny to come and support us.

To be able to capture these moments of pure joy for memory’s sake was what I had hoped to achieve when I brought my camera on stage. I also hope that these photos have helped to shine a light on aspects of the show not commonly observed. FS has played a huge, positive role in defining my student experience. I have met countless new friends and deepened existing friendships throughout. It may be corny, but it really is true that the people involved make FS.

Join us the family and come to castings Friday and Saturday, September 25th and 26th! Sign up for a slot here: