Yesterday saw me finish my 11th London Fashion Week season. Gosh, 11 seasons! Lucky me etc etc. The AW15 shows over the past few days have been just like all the others: exciting, tantalising and full of ‘pinch-me’ moments that make me wonder how I’ve blagged paying my mortgage by tweeting pictures of dresses.
As I approached my ‘tenth season birthday’ last September I wrote a post about how I’ve changed and relaxed as I’ve covered the shows, but something specific happened this season which made me realise that I’ve never blogged about the lonelier side of LFW. The side of LFW that for so long made me feel like I had no right to be there.
And this post is about that.
I was sitting at one of the shows this week and I saw a friend of mine who is still pretty new to LFW (I won’t name her as she might shout at me) so I ushered her over to sit with me. I proceeded to wave and beckon to a further three people I knew (to the delight of the PR, I’m sure) and suddenly realised I was sitting with eight mates. I didn’t even know I had eight mates.
The friend in question leaned over to me and whispered “you’re so lucky to know everyone, how do you know everyone?!” and it dawned on me that I’d had a friend to sit with at every single show this season, something I never ever thought would happen.
I used to find LFW an excruciatingly lonely experience, but one that had enough upsides to make the worry and doubt worth it. I knew I had a right to be there – I had the invites in my hand – but I didn’t feel like I had the right to be there.
I’ve never been ‘fashion’ in the ‘faaaaaaaashwan’ sense and my natural tendency is to dick about and have a laugh, which didn’t really feel like a natural fit at Somerset House. My jokes fell on deaf ears, which was a shame as my jokes tend to be pretty great.
I didn’t know *anybody*.
I sat on my own. I ate on my own. I went to the loo on my own (and I bloody LOVE gossiping in the loos so this part was particularly depressing). I was even staying on my own in a hotel on The Strand as I didn’t live in London back then, so unless I was on the phone to my mum I basically felt like I was on my own ALL THE TIME.
But slowly, a few seasons in, I’d start to see people I recognised from seasons before. Maybe not enough to remember their names, but enough to exchange basic pleasantries….which is rewarding enough when you’re in the middle of a street style circus and you’re covered in croissant flakes and wondering how any of this is really ‘fashion’. A smile went a long way in a place where it wasn’t cool to be smiling.
I don’t know when it started getting “more fun” on a social level, but slowly it did. This AW15 season that just closed was probably my most fun yet and I genuinely enjoyed all of it. I got to catch up with friends at every opportunity. There were friends I missed because they didn’t attend (more so than ever, bloggers seem to be “over it” when it comes to LFW) and there were PRs and clients that I spent as much time with gossiping about boys and holidays as we did lusting over the collections.
So really all I want to say with this post is: if you just attended your first/second/third Fashion Week and enjoyed the shows themselves but pretty much hated the rest of it, give it time.
If you feel like you want to be there and somebody has invited you to be there, then you bloody well deserve to be there. Own that.
If mentioning the fact you’re an intern or giving your blog name is met with glazed over eyes, brush that shit off.
You’re at LFW! LONDON FASHION WEEK! Where over 100 million pounds worth of orders will be placed and trends will be born. Yes, the man with the Spongebob Squarepants hairdo might look stupid by all ‘normal standards’, but the British fashion industry contributes £26 billion to our economy and supports 797,000 jobs – it’s a genuinely big deal.
And if you want to wear jeans and trainers? My god, just DO IT. (Unintentional Nike branding there, but I did wear Air Max and jeans literally every day).
If it all seems a bit much around Somerset House by Day 3 then venture over to Covent Garden for a cup of tea. You only have to walk a few metres from Somerset House to be in normal civilisation again and realise that, actually, you’re not alone for not wanting to wear pink kilts and exposed arms on a rainy February day.
I do try to be nice to everyone at LFW (and always generally) but sometimes I worry my niceties slip because I’m so incredibly busy and wrapped up in my own deadlines. There’s no excuse for being a bitch, ever, but it’s always worth remembering that some people are just really stressed and busy because they’re genuinely working at LFW. Sometimes people can’t chat because if they don’t tweet something asap somebody is going to fire them. It’s ridiculous, but it’s also true.
For the past four seasons I’ve been filming backstage with TONI&GUY (some of the vids from this season are already live here btw) and even a 2 minute interview can easily take four hours to capture when designers and heads of teams are being pulled between late models, burst seams and supposedly final run throughs. (There’s always one more run-through). But I try to fill all my downtime with chatting, because it makes LFW fun. When each show is only seven minutes long, you need to be able to have a laugh during the non-show bits….or it’s just a massive drag.
So if you’re not quite ‘enjoying’ LFW yet but think you might, just be patient.
It does come together in the end. And everyone was an intimidated newb once.