Popcorn, Cocktails And Soggy Socks: On The Frow At Fashion Week (Metro, 18th Feb 2014)


A nervous Amy Dawson arrives at London Fashion Week (Picture: Daniel Lynch)

It’s 8am, I’m moderately hungover and I’m attempting to ‘clean’ a leather skirt using a squeezy bottle of shoe polish. What the hell am I going to wear to my first-ever fashion week? And couldn’t I at least have done some laundry?

Feeling a sense of rising panic, I ring my designer friend, Maria, for advice, wedging the phone under my ear while pouring myself a coffee. ‘Neoprene,’ she says. ‘It sucks you right in. Or you can’t go wrong with grey marl and a big necklace. Oh and wear sensible shoes, there’s a lot of walking.’

Unsure what neoprene is, I give it a quick Google to be met by pages and pages of wetsuits. I mean, I know it’s been raining a lot, but really? In the end I go for a black outfit, a ‘statement’ scarf and lippie. Totally Mossy, I tell myself. Possibly in error.

When asked if I would be interested in losing my fashion week virginity, I instantly said yes. ‘I am sooooo getting a picture with David Gandy,’ I squeal.

‘Er, Amz,’ Life&Style’s fashion guru Naomi Mdudu explains, ‘he’s unlikely to be there, given that it’s womenswear. And you don’t tend to get the bigger names on the first day – it’s when the smaller designers showcase – and a lot of people are still in New York.’ What a bummer. But I can’t back out now.

I’m in no way indifferent to clothes, style or trends but when it comes to high fashion and designer labels, without expert guidance I’m about as Clueless as Tai Frasier.

So how would I fit in at London Fashion Week, the ultimate showcase for the hottest in British design? Unsure what to expect, I do a spot of internet research ahead of the day. There are umpteen ‘fashion week survival guides’, with advice on everything from footwear to hydration. Some of these people seem to put more preparation into fashion week than I did into a half marathon – with much less emphasis on carb-loading, it must be said.

As I race into the beautiful courtyard of Somerset House, late for my first show, the rain is pummelling down. The place is mostly filled with gorgeous, sharply coated people, with a few weird and wonderful bloggers striding around seemingly oblivious to the weather – like exotic wader birds.

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I find Naomi and head for Jean-Pierre Braganza, whoever he might be, where I’m excited to discover we’re on the ‘frow’. I spy a hot guy in a beanie, handing out free gourmet popcorn. Popcorn, it will transpire throughout the day, is the principal form of fashion week sustenance.

Apart from Myleene Klass, Vanessa from The Saturdays and that girl from Made In Chelsea who always looks po-faced and in pain, I don’t recognise anyone famous. Then I realise there’s a little drawer that slides out under our seat containing a charger for our phones, which delights me very much.


Myleene Klass (left) and Vanessa White of The Saturdays attending the Jean-Pierre Braganza autumn/winter 2014 London Fashion Week show (Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire)

When the music starts pumping and the models are striding, it’s really quite a thrill – though I’d somehow expected more flamboyance, confetti canons, strobe lighting and the like.

I suppose it makes sense to give the clothes space to speak for themselves – although the next label, Bora Aksu, presents a ‘Heidi in space’ collection, which I feel could benefit from the distraction of a few lasers.


Models walk the runway at the Bora Aksu show at London Fashion Week (Picture: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images) Models walk the runway at the Bora Aksu show at London Fashion Week (Picture: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)

I poke backstage to take a look at hair, nails and make-up, where it’s absolutely hectic. But everyone is friendly and polite, even as I repeatedly get in their way. Each make-up artist is surrounded by a shoal of eager beauty bloggers asking questions. It’s incredible to think how short each show is – that months and months of preparation, by a whole team of people, will go into one five or ten minute burst.

A day spent scurrying from show to show, with my socks getting steadily soggier inside my boots, finishes with PPQ at the Sanderson Hotel.

There’s a champagne reception, then they serve cocktails to those on the front row. As the wind whips at the plastic walls of the conservatory-type area where the show takes place, models wearing sunglasses and all-in-one lace strut down the room in patent boots with furry ankle cuffs. I see one nearly twist her leg when her spike heel gets caught in the decking floor. Things start to seem slightly ridiculous.

Despite my espresso martini, I’m pretty knackered. And I’m not sure I’ve picked up any fashion tips – although I’ve noticed that carrying teeny-weeny skateboards seems to be a thing now. What kind of a thing, I’ve no idea.

But most people do this all week – and there are so many fashion weeks in succession around the globe you could probably spend your life chasing them, like some kind of well-heeled tornado hunter.

Fashion week is not for the faint-hearted – and I would suggest, unless you have a particular penchant for popcorn, that you always carry snacks. But I’m delighted to have had the privilege. Until next time, Mr Gandy, next time.