Tomorrow marks a bit of a birthday of mine – my LFW birthday. It’s not a real birthday of course and the presents are more likely to be blister shaped than buttercream laden, but I’m keen to take five minutes today to appreciate the ridiculousness of the fact that I’m heading into my tenth season covering London Fashion Week. Me! The girl who studied economics and worked in property and tech, but quite liked clothes so tried to do something about it.
I guess everyone’s ‘journey’ into the realms of LFW is very different, but I suspect it’s more normal to start by blagging an invite to the odd Scout show and just generally hanging around absorbing the fash-wan atmosphere than it is to have your first experience being one which is commercially sponsored. I was sponsored by Vodafone. Like Lewis Hamilton! I got to sit at the front and everything.
I’m still massively grateful to Adam Vincenzini for pitching me to Vodafone back in 2010 – and to Amy, Ben, Jakub, Laura and the whole Vodafone gang of way-back-then for continuing to work with me for the six seasons that followed that first one. To then get ‘picked up’ by TONI&GUY and label.m was almost dream-like, and has given me a completely different perspective and changed the way I approach the LFW machine altogether.
In one sense I don’t feel like “I worked up the LFW ladder” and can feel very spoilt and guilty about that, but I’m also trying generally to not feel guilty about what are essentially positive things. It’s a shame to not enjoy when things go well and I spend enough time moaning when things go awry that to not be proud of the good is a bit mean on myself. I devoted every spare second to making a passion work. That’s not showing off (maybe it is), but I do believe that the harder you work the luckier you magically get.
Back when I was trying to make WIWT ‘a thing’ I’d work 20 hour days, seven days a week. I invested every single penny I had into it and didn’t make many pennies back. I still love that Marie Claire said I made £75k a year. Is it any wonder so many people started fashion blogs?! I didn’t make that back then by the way. And I still don’t.
I went through the original WIWT blog a bit today to see if I could find the outfit I wore for my first LFW experience (and experience is the optimum word here) and I remember it clearly because as soon as I got to Somerset House – a place I had never been to – I realised how out of place I looked.
I wore a Miss Selfridge dress and necklace…
…and I vividly remember people sneering and whispering. It’s funny because I look at this picture now and think I look teeny but I remember back then that as soon as I got to Somerset House my confidence nose-dived. I felt about 40 stone. I spent the whole day tugging down my dress like a nervous teenager. I probably never wore the dress again and I got a real education in not dressing to look ‘nice like maybe you would for a friend’s birthday dinner’ and that instead it was somehow more normal to have the C word shaved into the back of your head. (I genuinely saw that during my first season).
When I look at my outfits from the seasons that followed, I can see that I went into full EFFORT mode at one point. Sequins, feathers, leather, loaned designer gear, vintage nonsense. I used to wear five inch boots (to be fair, they were bloody amazing) and run between 12 shows a day wearing them. I don’t think I could even wear them to dinner these days.
Whether it’s a getting older thing or just a getting more experienced and confident in your own abilities thing, I’m excited that when I think about yet another season starting tomorrow I am literally only thinking about the clothes (and hair!) that I’ll be seeing on the runway. I’m not thinking about my place in the street style circus or worrying about being a billy no mates, because one thing I’ve definitely learnt is that once you relax and realise LFW isn’t about you, it’s a whole lot more fun.
You can kill yourself laughing in some sort of manic state from too much potassium and electrolytes (thanks Vita Coco) and you SO CAN eat a Pret sandwich in public. You can look at the man wearing a sieve as an earring (again, something I’ve actually seen) and not try to appreciate it as an arty fashion statement, you’re allowed to just think it’s stupid. You can call people out if they’re being rude, because there is literally no need to tell someone they look fat. EVER. (Again, something I’ve actually seen). You can do what you want basically, as long as its within the realms of respecting what a huge monster LFW is. It’s a professional event and it generates millions and millions of pounds for our economy, which people can be quick to forget.
I love LFW, even if it is tiring, and I still can’t believe I get to call the next five days work. It is bloody hard work, but it’s not something I’d have *ever* expected to be able to do as part of my hodgepodge quilted blanket of a career.
I’ll probably wear Air Max tomorrow. I’ll decide what to wear in the morning and let the weather play a part in that decision rather than believe my #amazingoutfit will simply summon the clouds to stop raining. And whilst I’m happy that I’m ‘at that stage’ with LFW, I’m also genuinely excited for anyone going tomorrow for the first time who may have spent the last four weeks planning their outfit and the last three years trying to get a PR to notice them enough to send them a standing invitation.
Whether it’s your first show or your 900th tomorrow, whether you’re watching from the front row or from a live stream in your bedroom – everyone’s the same when the lights go down and the first girl walks down that catwalk. We’ll be united in awe, excitement, interest, fascination and pride that London is home to so much creative talent.
It’s going to be an amazing spectacle once again. And I can’t wait.