What it’s really like at Fashion Week

And so Fashion Month draws to a close: the shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris have been and gone, the fashion editors have filed their reports and the fashionistas have retired their heels and handbags for another season.

There’s always a lot of glitz, glamour and excitement surrounding Fashion Week. The thrill of seeing what your favourite designers will be unveiling, the proximity to fabulously expensive dresses, the hair stylists, the make-up artists, the beautiful models, the celebrity-studded front rows and the delicious prospect of goody bags. 
But the thing is, unless you’re a VIP, Fashion Week isn’t quite as fun, glamorous or enjoyable as you might think. 
Before nabbing the bloody lovely job I have now, I used to write for a fashion site. One of the few perks was getting packed off to London twice a year and watching a couple of fashion shows. In that time, I learned that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Unless your name is Alexa Chung, of course.

This is what the magazines don’t mention:

(I look like I’ve been taken hostage)

You have to queue outside for about an hour

The ticket – I mean, invitation – tells you to get there early. You show up nearly an hour before the show. Outside you see a mile-long queue of writers, bloggers and fashion students. So, you join the queue and wait to get inside. London Fashion Week usually falls in September and February, so it’s usually bloomin’ freezing. Naturally, you’re not wearing anything terribly practical, it’s Fashion Week after all! You’re left standing in the queue, watching your fingers turn into rather chic icicles. 

You have to queue again once you get inside

You’re finally inside and your frozen fingers have started to defrost. But you realise: there’s another queue to get into the show! Well, it’s not a queue so much as a holding pen filled with buzzing bloggers an grumpy editors waiting to get through the doors. It’s starting to get seriously warm, making you miss the freezing temperatures outside. There are PR girls running around with trays of non-fat FroYo – although you risk losing a hand trying to grab one. 

No one seems happy

Everyone here loves fashion, right? This is like Comic Con for the sartorially minded! Aren’t we all ecstatic!? Not so much. The people actually working the show – generally trendy girls in all-black, wearing headsets – look just about ready to snap. The fashion writers look stressed too – they have another 6 shows to attend today and this queuing is simply wasting their time. Some of the bloggers have an unspoken competition running – think high school yearbook style – who’s the most popular? Best dressed? And then there’s a few innocent souls desperately trying to network, throwing their business cards at people like confetti at a wedding. Basically, what I’m trying to say is: there’s not a lot of smiling going on. 

Seeing the show? Forget about it

You’re teetering desperately on the edge of your toes, trying to get a photo of the models as they stroll down the runway without that dude’s awkwardly giant hat in shot.  As you do so, you’re trying to remember themes, colours, shapes and cuts to report on later. In your haste to play photographer, psychologist, historian, writer and analyst, you kind of end of missing the actual show: the models pass in a blur and before you know it, it’s all over. Ah well – onto the next queue!

But it’s not all bad

The invites can be pretty cool:

(My personal favourites – although 2016 Nikki regrets the filters 2014 Nikki chose)
You get to dress funny
Not mandatory. But my advice for someone going to Fashion Week who’s looking for a bit of attention is: don’t dress nice. It’s very difficult. Dress slightly silly instead. People will love your outfit.
One day, I wore a blue gingham dress, white (!) tights, black brogues and a pink coat. I looked like Alice in Wonderland meets Dolores Umbridge. But compared to the day I wore a normal-nice black dress and ankle boots, I got way more attention. People wanted to take my photo for their street style blogs – and I don’t think they were being ironic. 
You might meet someone interesting
I never managed to bump into Chung or Cara Delevingne, but I met one or two nice bloggers along the way. And I even sat next to someone well-known in fashion retail circles! I didn’t realise who he was and sassed him for patronising me. Oops.

And admittedly, the setting is pretty great

I’m not going to lie: Somerset House is a stunningly beautiful backdrop. It’s also a pretty great place for outfit inspiration – once you look past the neon pleather and wildly asymmetric hemlines. *shudder*

And that concludes my very biased account of Fashion Week. Have you ever been?

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