Sunday, 19 September 2010

Saturday - AKA best day of my life thus far

Remember this photograph, as you may never see such a rare artifact again. Because this is a photograph of the happiest girl in the whole world.

Saturday was the best day of my life. As I stood outside Somerset House in my pink plastic Vivienne Westwood heels and my black Zara dress, clutching my Harriet Rose handbag with my camera tucked into a Cosmopolitan paper bag, there was no where else I would have rather been.

Never mind the actual fashion shows, (more of which later) just being there at the famous home to London Fashion Week was exciting enough. The courtyard was thronging with fashionistas, the sound of heels tapping across the cobbled floor resonating above the buzz of voices. Photographers darted about snapping the best-dressed, of which there were many.

It seems the shearling trend has been embraced by the fashion industry with open arms; I have never seen so much of the wooly stuff in my life. Shearling waistcoats, belted shearling coats that looked like hugs, shearling lined denim jackets and even some gorgeous shearling trimmed boots. From cosy sheepskin to wild animal; leopard print was abound. Everywhere I looked there seemed to be a flash of the sexy, spotty pattern, from faux fur leopard print coats, to sheer blouses, to scarves, to heels. As for other autumn/winter trends, they were pretty much all there. Leather shorts were popular (worn with crisp white shirts, one of which had an enormous pussy bow, or sheer, floaty blouses), as were caramel hues on everything from tapered trousers to thick winter coats and draped capes. Legs tended to be bare and tanned despite the chunky knits and snuggly shearling, and high heeled black ankle boots were like the fashion industry's version of your basic school shoes.

If all the chic trends were there, there were also those who had decided to abide by their own style rules. Cue one girl wearing a feather bedecked turban and a full-length black, completely see-through skirt with suspenders underneath. (Suspenders and long socks seemed to be popular actually. Perhaps I'm a prude but it just looked to me like they'd forgotten something... um, a skirt / trousers perhaps...) Several people were dressed up as pirates. (I'm thinking / hoping it was fancy dress...) I spotted one man wearing jodphurs, riding boots and a black and gold jacquard coat.

A few trends that I wish had never been still lingered, determined not to be let go and forgotten. Wet look leggings and drop crotch trousers were prime examples. (Although of the leggings I did hear several whispered comments: "Is she ACTUALLY wearing wet look leggings? Sooo 2009". Yes the fashion industry can be bitchy.)

I may have just said that this was the best day of my life, but that doesn't mean to say everything went smoothly. I realised I had made a massive mistake, a mistake that left me feeling awful. On Thursday I was handed a pile of fashion show tickets and asked to read out the information written on them so that one of the fashion assistants could type the details up into a show schedule, which the fashion team would then use to plan which shows to go and see. There was a big pile and I just worked my way through, reading out everything I saw. When it came to a certain lilac ticket I read everything out as usual and just moved on. I didn't think to turn the ticket over and look on the back where 'Twenty8Twelve' was written. So to cut a long story short, the fashion team didn't realise that this particular ticket was in fact a ticket for Sienna and Savannah Miller's catwalk show, so they hadn't planned to go. It was only that morning when I was organising which shows I was going to that I saw the ticket and realised my mistake.

I felt my stomach drop immediately. I sent a text to one of the fashion assistants straight away to explain and apologise for my mistake. In the end I managed to make it to the show in time but none of the others did. I felt absolutely awful. If there's one thing I hate it's making mistakes, especially ones that effect other people. In the end, however, it turned out ok - I apologised to the fashion director and she said it was fine and not to worry.

I suppose at the end of the day everyone makes mistakes.

Anyway, as I queued up for the show, despite feeling guilty and anxious I decided that as I was there I might as well enjoy it. I would kick myself if I spent the whole time worrying instead of appreciating how lucky I was to be there.

So there I was, waiting for the Twenty8Twelve show to start and watching as a crowd of photographers gathered around Matthew Williamson and Jude Law who had just taken their seats on the front row on the opposite side of the room. I must admit I went sligthly weak at the knees. I love Jude Law, and Matthew Williamson is one of my favourite designers, so having them sat just opposite me was certainly an experience I will never forget.

As I waited for the show to start I scanned the front row, trying to figure out who everyone was. Many of the people on the front row had their children with them, and as a little boy toddled up and down the runway giggling away I tried to imagine a childhood in which a fashion show runway is your playground, and front row seats are the norm. How the other half live.
Before long it was time for the toddler to take a seat on daddy's lap, and the first model's turn to take to the runway.
It seems as though the denim trend isn't about to go away. If the first look of the collection didn't give the message clearly enough (a button up denim mini dress with a white lace and pink hemmed underskirt) then the denim interspersed throughout the show, from mini skirts to playsuits, made it clear that denim is here to stay.
For the most part, hem lines were sexy and short, referencing the 50s pinups Sienna and Savannah were inspired by.
Prints were eclectic, from faded ethnic prints to a smudged watercolour pattern in bright tones, evoking a chic globetrotter who has picked up things along her journeys.
A flash of pink, and Matthew Williamson, Jude Law and Hilary Alexander on the front row.
I loved the femininity of these mini-dresses, with their fun, frilly hems.
Shirts were key, either unbuttoned or loose, stark white and bib-fronted, tied at the waist or in several forms of shirt dress.
All in all it was a collection to make Jude proud...
Then the models took to the runway once more, and Sienna and Savannah popped out from backstage to give a quick wave.
There was no time to waste, as I had to get from New Oxford Street (where the Twenty8Twelve show was held) to Somerset House for the Betty Jackson show that started at 1.

As I left I saw cars and buses with 'London Fashion Week' emblazoned on the side waiting to pick people up and take them between shows. Harper's Bazaar had their own cars, whilst a line of taxis waited for other long-limbed ladies to step gracefully inside.

For me, however, it was the tube. On my way to Somerset House I spotted several people with 'London Fashion Week' passes slung around their necks. I couldn't help but feel a certain thrill thinking - that's where I'm headed too. It was as though I had finally been admitted to the coolest club around after years of waiting and wishing.

Although I loved Twenty8Twelve, it was the Betty Jackson show that really did it for me. There are often debates about whether such a commercial brand as Twenty8Twelve should warrant a catwalk show (although I am of the opinion that a brand shouldn't be scrutinised for wearability and sales power - after all, designers have to sell the clothes they make) and this wearability made for a more laid-back collection.

At Betty Jackson, however, it was all about glamour.

From classic, feminine cuts...
To the luxurious swish of feathers beneath a belted coat...
Or an explosion of feathers adorning jackets.
There were classic, womanly shapes in soft, buttery shades...
Sexy swimsuits for a pool-side glamazon...
Rich, sophisticated chocolate hues...
Even some hot pink to make me smile...
And fringed trousers that were alive with movement as the model walked...
All in all I was on cloud nine, and stuck for words (and that doesn't happen very often).
In the BFC tent at Somerset house watching the Betty Jackson show, I was so happy and overwhelmed I had to gulp back tears. Perhaps that makes me very sad. But perhaps it just means I have made the right career choice.
I had some time to kill before the next show (House of Holland, back at New Oxford Street). Being so close to the river I couldn't help but take a walk there and take some pictures. The view down the Thames always makes my heart glad.
I absolutely, 100%, love London. If living here ever gets too much or I ever feel a pang of homesickness, all I will have to do is think of this amazing view and all the amazing things London has to offer, and I will remember why it is that I'm here.

I then made my way to New Oxford Street. As I had some time to waste I decided to walk rather than get on the tube. On the way I stopped off at the National Portrait Gallery, finally getting to visit the BP Portrait Award exhibition I had long wanted to see.

When I finally arrived my feet may have been painful, but I have nonetheless decided heels are definitely the way forward. Not only did my pink Vivienne Westwoods give me a few extra inches in height, but they added a mile in confidence. And all I had to pay for feeling fabulous and smiling all day long was a pair of slightly aching soles. That's a bargain I would say.

As I waited outside before the show started, I watched the crowds of photographers lingering by the doors. Every now and then they would turn into a frenzy, running to catch a celebrity making their way inside. First Nicole Roberts who stopped and posed for the cameras, adopting the moody broody look that so many celebrities love and that never ceases to annoy me (what's wrong with a smile?). Next up was Pixie Geldoff - smiley and unbelieveably slender. Then Lily Allen - dressed in a sweet black and white dress complete with peter pan collar, her baby bump poking proud and perfectly round. It felt so strange to be standing a few metres away from such famous celebs, but also realising that despite the hype and the flashing cameras they are just people like you and me.
The House of Holland show was absolutely packed. Rows and rows of seats crowded around the catwalk, and people (me included) stood huddled together at the back. At one end of the catwalk was a huge wall of photographers, snapping away before the show as the celebs took their front row seats.
Then it was time for the party to get started, and I mean that literally as the collection was popping with so much colour, glitter, and spangly star motifs that you would have been forgiven for mistaking yourself at a 70s disco.
Oh and did I mention Aggie (AKA Agyness Deyn) was there on the front row too?
The models wore huge pom-pom earrings that swung like furry Christmas baubles as they walked. Pat Butcher, eat your heart out. With accessories like these, neon shades, some fab fringing and a generous sprinkling of glitter, this was a collection all about having fun. Henry Holland is never one for taking himself too seriously, and when it came down to it, it seems this is exactly what the audience were longing for. Because at the end of the day you can be as chic and stylish as you like in sophisticated beige, but there's nothing quite like a splash of pink and some good old fashioned sparkle.
The final two dresses were so unbelievably sparkly that what with all the camera lights reflecting off the glimmering gold surface I was slightly concerned about mass blinding along the front row. But I wasn't that concerned really, because I LOVED them.
The House of Holland show got my heart pounding. The crowded room, the best music blaring out, the celebs lined up on the front row, the mouth-watering bright colours and all that fun and glitter...
It just would have been impossible not to leave grinning from ear to ear.
Oh and on the way out I spotted this oh-so-cute car that made me smile even more.

The day was at an end and I was absolutely exhausted, my feet ached and I longed for my bed. But I was ecstatically, unbelievably, immensely HAPPY. After a long journey home I collapsed through the door into my flat, ready for sleep but smiling and thinking to myself: do you know what? I love my life.

Today was a day I will never forget. And when I'm feeling low because of the lack of hot water in my flat, or when I'm sitting overwhelmed in front of the returns mountain at Cosmo next week, it will all be worth it. My first fashion week experience has been amazing. And now I'm just all the more determined to make sure that this has been far from my last visit to Somerset House and London Fashion Week.


P.S Sorry for the HUGE blog entry, but to be honest it was a pretty HUGE day :)

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