The biannual circus that is Fashion Week has been a part of my life for over five years now. I interned in 2008, started attending as a blogger in 2009 and have since clocked up over fifty presentations and shows in various parts of London.
My thoughts on why I attend are clear but for this final post on the AW14 season, I thought I’d reveal an insight into the reality of attending being the photographer, editor and publicist for this sometimes misunderstood part of the internet. It’s a bit of a read so grab a cup of tea!
6th February: I finally manage to get an e-mail from the British Fashion Council regarding my accreditation being rejected each time. Apparently the system automatically denies my blog based on what I’ve typed in, but they’ve reviewed my stats and previous coverage manually, so I’m good to go. I do a little happy dance inside. I’ve still not received a single invitation but feel hopeful I might discover exciting something in the exhibition.
11th Feb: At around 5pm I get an e-mail with an invite to the Mother Of Pearl Presentation, result! I send a cryptic tweet about my fashion week plans. That should do it.
12th Feb: My Orla Kiely and Holly Fulton hard copy invites arrive. Saturday is looking exciting indeed. The rain outside looks ominous.
13th Feb: Another non-bank-statement envelope lands on the mat. I get all excited but realise it’s a hard copy invite for the Mother Of Pearl show I already knew about. Along with my TOGA and last minute Charlie May invite, I have five shows in total planned. It’s not the best success rate after the amount of tickets I applied for, but in the words of Tim Gunn, I’m going to make it work and really focus on a few things. If anyone asks, I’m being super selective this season.
I have no shows planned but as I’m taking part in a sort of Orla Kiely flash mob type thing, I’m up early and headed to London. My failure to check the status of the tube lines means that I get stuck on a Westbound Jubilee line train for longer than intended. My Virgin Media wifi refuses to work and I rely on my 2007 Spotify playlist to keep calm. Why is TFL against me?
Eventually I arrive at the Orla Kiely showroom, get changed into my pre-arranged outfit and head off with the other girls to Somerset House. After taking a few quick pictures, I spot Lucy, Jaclyn and Kim before heading to the registration desk to collect my pass. A rain shower means I get to check out the exhibition sooner than planned and I find the lovely Cleo Ferin-Mercury, a French scarf designer I’ve recently discovered with amazing prints and a unique tiger design.
I manage a few more stands until my hunger gets the better of me and I call Kim to seek out some food that isn’t Fernadez & Wells. The rain is brutal, so we end up sitting in Leon for a while and discussing how the weather ruins everything. This isn’t quite how I imagined fashion week, but at least I’ve been reunited with a different sort of fast food.
Determined to secure a decent spot at the Orla Kiely presentation, I arise at 7am and get ready with military precision. My bag has been packed with memory cards, portable chargers and the biggest brolly I can carry. I even check the train situation before leaving the house. Winning.
Due to high winds most of my services are a bit all over the place, but I figure out an alternative route and arrive in Holborn with a good fifteen minutes to spare. The old Central Saint Martins building is a great location, there’s a decent photographers pit and I set up shop with my tiny-in-comparison DSLR on the floor. I may have a dead leg, but it will be worth it to get the shots I need.
I watch the presentation twice and take over 500 snaps, multitasking between lenses and filming bits on my iPhone. I edit my Instavideo on the bus to Somerset House and join the queue for Holly Fulton just as the heavens open. Queuing in the rain is not the one but at least I spot Aisling for a chat until the bouncers see sense and let us in.
I have a seated ticket (6th row is where it’s at) but as per usual, I find a spot between the benches so I can crouch down when the show starts for better shots. It’s definitely worth it, my camera plays ball for once and I feel a little bit chuffed about some of the details I’ve managed to capture. There’s still a hint of the Art Deco from past collections but the floral emblems are actually referring to the cogs within technology. I especially love the oversized coat adorned with pastel blue hands, referencing fifties advertising.
With Day 2 officially over for me, I head to Leicester Square to meet up with Winnie and Michelle for some dim sum and normality. There still seems to be a buzz in the non-fashion week areas of London, posters are everywhere and most of the shop windows reference the event in some way.
We head to Selfridges for a browse and it’s interesting to see what brands have actually made it into store after all of the rigmarole. SS14 seems like old hat now but I still get excited by all the Miu Miu coats and rails of Celine. Oh to be rich!
After editing pictures until 1am and procrastinating on Buzzfeed for another hour, my body clock still wakes me up at 9. I hadn’t planned to come into London but after checking my twitter feed and doing some research on Japanese brand TOGA, I decide to head in and see what it’s all about.
Negotiating the Sunday train services will be worth it, I tell myself. I bring my laptop along for the ride in the hopes that I can finish my Orla Kiely post but regret it immediately after feeling the weight of it. Due to a bit of Oyster card confusion, I manage to miss the beginning of the Dazed & Confused breakfast but catch the tail end of Diane Pernet’s advice to bloggers, stay authentic and don’t be bought.
It’s a nice sunny day, so I head to The Writers’ Republic lounge and charge my devices for a bit. It’s set in a private members club, there’s sushi for lunch and livestreams of all the shows. We discuss our thoughts on the Cara Delevingne collection for Mulberry (why oh why can’t the backpacks be plain) and I realise a few others are heading to the TOGA presentation too, so I’m able to hitch a ride in their Uber car. It’s my only bit of snazzy transport so far.
We arrive in style at The Wapping Project, though I don’t exit the car quite as gracefully as I would have liked. Presentations are known for being inventive and there’s a live band playing amongst the Western-inspired clothes. I recognise a few key editors, signifying that this is a brand to watch.
I’m up bright and early for my Toni & Guy hair appointment and there are no train hiccups. Randomly I spot one of my friends from school who works nearby and we have a bit of a catch up. I attempt to explain why so many people have multi-coloured hair and don’t wear their coats properly.
Once she leaves, I start to feel intense hunger pains and manage to tag along with Laura, Emma, Annie, Betty, Laura and Bee who are heading to Shake Shack. Finally, people who want burgers! It takes a while for us to leave the courtyard due to some of the others being cornered by street-style photographers but eventually, we escape the Fashion Week bubble for some greasy food and decent 3G.
I make it to the beautiful ICA with minutes to spare before the Mother of Pearl presentation. It’s a pretty small affair set within 3 rooms in a townhouse and I even manage to get a seat on the front row. The fact that it’s the only row doesn’t bother me.
Trouble is, I’m by the entrance to the room and the doorknob makes it into most of my photos. Briony has a bit of camera trouble too so we double check with the PR and get to watch the show again from the photographers pit. I also get to meet the lovely Nicolette and her fiancée, it’s like my Instagram feed come to life!
We take a few touristy pictures outside after the show and I head back to Somerset House to catch the rest of the exhibition. Even though my name may have escaped a few invite lists, you can still see a lot of the clothing in greater detail later on in the showrooms. I check out Charlie May’s stand, as I’m pretty gutted I missed her show due to a clash situation. It’s great to see the buzz her collection has created online and there’s even some knitwear to oogle.
So thus concludes my London Fashion Week adventure for AW14! I’ve left out the bits where I think I’ve lost my lens cap for the umpteenth time, empty Propercorn into my bag by accident and keep cursing at my laptop that doesn’t like having about ten programs open. Each blogger has a really different experience and but for me I can always guarantee that I’ll meet someone unexpected, miss a show (in this case I could have watched Topshop Unique in the spectators bit of the Tate) and get a flurry of excitement when an amazing look comes out.
There may not have been any hotels, car services or parties but I did end up hanging out with some awesome, genuine people and feeling all inspired about trends for later this year (get me a baby blue coat pronto).
The main fact is, you don’t necessarily need to go to a lot of shows to have a good time and still end up feeling tired with a cold by the end of it. Fashion Week is now a place to network, discover and connect with like-minded people in one place, it’s hard to get rid of the ‘circus’ now as it’s mostly in areas open to the public.
I’m sure there are fashion students milling around, hoping to get into something (I can relate), photographers snapping for every website and brand going plus people who just genuinely want to visit Somerset House (it is a tourist attraction, after all). There is no logic to the ticketing system, you may be invited one season and ditched the next, but I try not to take it personally.
It’s only ten days of the year where you can feel a little put out, so I keep reminding myself that I can get to do some pretty exciting things most of the time and keep my focus on that. I’m now trying to catch up on all the shows alongside general life admin and need to get my Pinterest board populated, bring on SS15!