As New York Fashion Week finished and London Fashion Week (LFW) just started this week, I wanted to share some of my insights and honest opinion of positive and not so positive experiences of attending LFW few years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I was incredible fortunate to attend several designer shows and rub shoulders with fellow London fashionistas, which I documented here, here and here. But despite their allure, fashion weeks also reveal a less glamorous side of the fashion world…
THINGS I LOVED
1.Creative buzz – twice a year London transforms into a beehive of buzzing fashion editors, photographers, celebrities, bloggers, PR girls and models roaming from venue to venue. Central London, especially around the main LFW venue becomes one fashion center stage. Seeing latest fashion trends and designer masterpieces on the runway is simply exhilarating! With the lights glaring and cool music pumping through the veins, it’s impossible not to immerse yourself in a fashion dream world and love it.
And then it’s over in few minutes and you move onto the next one! It used to be in a classier Sommerset House on the banks of the Thames until 2015, when it moved to an edgier and hipster Brewer Street car park in the heart of Soho.
2.Spotting new talent – LFW reflects the spirit of the British fashion which has a reputation for being more experimental and forward compared to New York or Paris fashion weeks, giving way to and nurturing new talent. LFW is a great way for new designers to showcase their talent: land their name in the fashion world, meet fashion magazine editors and perspective buyers. Side by side with big designer names such as Burberry, Christopher Kane, Erdem, Roksanda Ilincic and Peter Pilotto, you can see smaller shows of up and coming designers.
For example, that’s how I discovered for myself super talented Eudon Choi, Fyodor Golan, Huishan Zhang and Simone Rocha, who are now LFW’s regulars paving the way for the next batch of newcomers!
3.Designer showrooms – one thing that many people probably don’t know about LFW is its showrooms. They are located in the same space as the official LFW site, which means as soon as the catwalk show is over, you can check out each collection on the rail. It’s such a great way to meet the designers and their teams and see ready-to-wear collections up close to appreciate intricate detailing, impeccable tailoring and exquisite fabrics.
Showrooms profile over 150 ready-to-wear, accessories and bag designers from all over the world, who use this opportunity to network and introduce their brands to the British market.
There are also pop-up cafes (think Lavazza coffee, Evian water and organic food) for sleep deprived, always-on-the-go fashion crowd to rejuvenate. In the meantime, salons of famous hair and beauty brands, such as Tony & Guy and Maybelline New York, offer last min touch-ups and glam advice.
THINGS I LOATHED
1.Pace and space – so just to show you how unglamorous LFW can be, let me walk you through a typical day of someone attending the shows. Depending on what shows and events you have been invited to, your day may start at 9am and run until midnight. When you come to see the show with a coveted invitation in your hands, you join long queue of other guests to be let inside the venue. Once inside you have to fight for a seat and then wait for another 20-30 mins as fashion shows are notorious for starting late.
During the show, everyone tries to take photos, which means there is a sea of cameras and phones sticking out in your way!
Once the show begins, it’s over in minutes and you have to join another queue – this time to get out of the venue! You then have to figure out where the next show you’ve been invited to is, which can be in a completely different part of town. You may not even have much time between the shows or time for a break, which means you grab a sandwich on the way and eat in the cab/bus/underground!
2.Anyone is someone – one thing I really don’t like about the LFW, or any other fashion week, is the growing number of fashion wannabees who every day basically occupy main LFW site to see and to be seen and photographed by fellow bloggers and social media sites. LFW is the only time when the city seems to have an over concentration of ‘stylish’ people.
Don’t get me wrong, I think London is the most fashionable city in the world and I will be the first person to compliment a well-put together person with a great individual style. But LFW reveals the good, the bad and the ugly. There is a sense of great competition and pressure between fashionistas to outdo each other and get noticed, which means some of them will take their outfits to the most appalling and shocking levels, turning LFW into a circus! It is quite entertaining but not my idea of good style.
3.Pretentiousness – ok, this one is almost a given as the fashion world is famous for its snobbism, brutal competition and self-inflated egos. Just think Devil Wears Prada! Well, you see all of that during the fashion week. It feels quite elitist – it’s all about who knows who and how important you are. To get invited to a major show, unless you are a celebrity, influential editor or a blogger with millions of followers, is almost impossible.
When I was a fashion editor of a start-up magazine, I quickly learned that guests lists for big designer shows were already filled up months in advance, while smaller brands happily invited us to see their shows which was great! Although I love fashion, I would never want to work in this industry. It seems very fluid, fast moving and temporal just as fashion seasons – today you are an IT girl, tomorrow no one remembers your name!