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Why care about Fashion Week?
Because it’s an industry worth £26 billion to the UK economy? Because Britain champions the most innovative design talent in the world? Because the world is watching? No, because it's bloody hilarious.
The city hosts what is basically a four-day fashion bender.
It’s all aimed at championing the best of British design, to those who shop for a living on behalf of the world’s boutiques. Biannual guides fill fashion supplements and online sites, written by fashion boffs telling us what to see, where to go and how to dress along with ‘survival tips’ – generally indispensable pearls of wisdom along the lines of ‘always carry water, it’s every model’s drink of choice to keep their skin glowing’. No, it isn’t. That would be booze.
Laugh all you like, but it’s hard not to be moved by the street style.
Pull up to one of the many venues hosting the proceedings, and you’re met by a scrummage of fashionistas – the cream of London’s fashion crowd, behaving dreadfully, (hell hath no fury like a blogger off a guestlist) and wearing some of the most amazing ensembles you can imagine. Random objects adorn their bodies, faces, hair. The women tower above the men in six-inch heels – and there’s invariably an innovative Japanese blogger dressed as a television.
Getting in has its own delights.
There’s always a horrible moment when a blogger doesn’t know whether to give their real name or screen pseudonym: ‘Hi, um... is Sequinned Sophie on the list?’ In down time between shows, making up blogger names is a fun game. My favourites? Mrs Highheels, Philip’s Fashion Forever, and Susie Bubble. Note to my readers: google hugely popular style blogger ‘Fashion Foie Gras’ – her logo is a goose in high heels.
Shows have a unique energy, pitched between theatre and a gig.
Many will actually have a gig – Burberry presented an ear-bleeder of a Paloma Faith performance in February, while Matthew Williamson famously pulled in Prince in 2007.
Months of production and budget (£80-£100k) is invested into a spectacle which lasts minutes.
But that’s why I love shows – a designer must get across a creative concept and direction for their brand in a flash. When they get it right, it’s electric: a wave of recognition flows through the audience as we collectively judge a show without saying a word; an unofficial clap-o-meter then reveals our verdict. But no one smiles.
It’s not just fashion that shocks.
A few seasons ago, just before the other models and I were about to take to the catwalk, a water pipe exploded, spraying the screaming audience with water. The malicious handiwork of a vexed former intern? We’ll never know. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen scrambling editors falling over chairs and pushing each other out of the way to save their Fendi from a drenching.
Not everyone loves a fashion party.
I heard that Jane Fonda used to get dropped at the door of an event, walk straight through waving at guests and then immediately leave through the back door. Legend! Me, I love a knees-up. It’s like a night at the pub, just with canapés instead of pork scratchings – and instead of darts, hilarious barbed comments are thrown across the room (‘What does she look like?’).
Jack wears a suit by Joshua Kane www.joshuakanebespoke.com.
RECOMMENDED: Read the full London Fashion Week guide