zara_martin4.jpgLast week the Clothes Show Live hit Birmingham's NEC, with thousands of eager shoppers hitting the stalls for a bit of a pre-Christmas fashion fix.

With 500+ exhibits from the biggest brands in fashion and beauty, plus a spectacular catwalk show and loads of celeb attendees, the event (which has been running for a whopping 22 years!) is the UK's premier fashion event and the perfect place to get a bit of style inspiration.

We caught up with presenter, model, DJ and fashionista Zara Martin, who presented at the show to find out how things went, and to get some sneaky backstage gossip...

How was Clothes Show Live for you?

Super hectic! I hadn't been before, but I used to watch the TV show. The Clothes Show is such an iconic brand and Clothes Show Live is like the TV show coming to life. I think even now people remember the show - and the people involved in it are still working in fashion. I met Caryn Franklyn and she's so lovely!

What were you up to?

I was presenting the Style Studio Stage. It was the most hectic six days ever. The stage was sponsored by Cosmopolitan magazine and was all about hair and beauty...anything we could get on the stage really! It was a continuous stream of mayhem!

And who else was there?

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Select Model Management were scouting at the event, Grace Woodward was presenting the Fashion Theatre with George Lamb (above, with guest presenter Lauren Goodger). My friend Laura Jackson was there, and Kimberley Wyatt performed. She also has a beauty brand called BM beauty, which is PETA-approved mineral makeup. She was great, I'm such a fan, it's embarassing!

There were also guest performers; they had The Risk, Parade....and Lucien Laviscount (below, with Kimberley Wyatt) was being followed around like the pied piper by screaming girls!

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Was he more popular with the ladies than George?

As far as I can tell he was. Sorry George!

What else got the crowd screaming?

The goodie bags! You couldn't hear anything on stage, the people were screaming so much! I wouldn't have been like that when I was younger, I'd have been so shy and never been the one who'd shout. Now I would!

Did you get the time to go round the exhibition and see the brands on offer?

I did! Goldie London was there, they gave me some stuff to wear. Olivia Rubin was there too, who I love. What was really nice was to see lots of up-and-coming UK brands as well as the established ones. There were big queues for Bolongaro Trevor, the brand set up by Stuart from All Saints. Kandee Shoes also had their shoes on the main fashion theatre catwalk, and they had a competition to win a pair - I was so sad I couldn't enter!

How was the atmosphere behind the scenes?

It was like Summer camp! We had to be in hair and makeup by 8am and didn't finish until six, so all the people who were presenting, plus all the models and dancers were staying together. We took over a hotel, that was like a show in itself!

Any particularly funny moments?

Someone at the show was giving away these onesies to everyone who was working there, so we ended up at the hotel with this bar full of really hot people in onesies. Me and Grace were perving over the male dancers!

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What was the crowd like at the event?

They were really sweet, it was quite a young crowd, mostly the 12 - 16 demographic, and they are so stylish compared to when I was in my early teens! I didn't have the concept of style that they have. Fashion is more accessible now.

Any big trends you spotted?

A lot of leopard print! There was also this glittery lip. Rachel Wood, the makeup artist with Benefit who worked on the main show did this lip; red with glitter padded on. By the end of the day, all the girls in the crowd had red glittery lip, and all the stalls were offering the glitter lip!

Why do you think the Clothes Show Live works so well?

It's accessible. I think things like London Fashion Week can be confusing because you're seeing next season's clothes. But here all the stuff on the catwalk is available to buy at the show so you can get it straight away.

For more from Zara, visit her blog. The Clothes Show Live takes place every December at the NEC and in May at London's ExCel.

[show images from Clothes Show Live facebook page]