In case you didn’t already know, this was my first season with a Press Pass at London Fashion Week. Lack of organisation, lack of confidence and a lack of belief that I would get approved for a pass in the first place meant that in the end I decided to attend just the Saturday with the intention of checking out the exhibition, soaking up the atmosphere, and generally getting a feel for what London Fashion Week means without completely killing myself.
This meant I had to turn down a couple of invitations, for other days, but some last minute emails and a bit of begging and borrowing from Reena at Fashion Daydreams meant I bagged an invite to the Louise Gray and Cooperative Designs presentation and the Bryce D’anice Aime catwalk show at Fashion Scout.
I was hellish nervous beforehand. To be honest I’m probably that kind of person anyway, but London Fashion Week (or any Fashion Week) has a gloss of glamour and in crowd, air kissy, bitchy girl judgement about it which had me in a heightened state of awareness about everything I put on that morning. Not wanting to stand out too much (I’m such a wallflower) I stuck to black tights and jacket with a short black and beige silk dress.
Arriving at Somerset House alone to pick up my Press Pass and get to the Louise Gray presentation I felt 2 things:
- Fear – I had NO CLUE where I was going, there were signs and maps, but they meant nothing to me
- Excitement – The atmosphere really was amazing.
Suffice to say I managed to find “Registration and Fast Trak” at the back of the Courtyard behind the Catwalk Space and swapped my print out email for an exciting press pass to wear round my neck
Essentially Fashion Week is a huge trade show. Two years ago I somehow ended up at the National House Builders Exhibition in Birmingham (don’t ask) and I spent the day walking round stands while PR reps attempted to give me leaflets, mouse mats, mugs and keyrings. Fashion Week is basically the same, but with less mouse mats and mugs (shame)
Focus is often on the Catwalk shows, with their glamour, mystique and front row celebrity, but there is A LOT more to see, even if you’re a blogger or buyer with a focus on more affordable fashion this is definitely a place to find out about labels and designers you might otherwise miss.
So, as a Fashion Week First Timer these are the tips that I will take forward with me next season:
Wear flat shoes
There are 2 types of people at London Fashion Week. The ones that want to take photos and the ones that want their photo taken. If you are one of the former then no one gives a crap what you look like except you, so you might as well be comfortable. If you must wear heels then at least take flats with you so that when you are stood at the front of a queue for a show that is running 45 minutes late and the clipboard Nazis are running up and down ushering more important people straight to the front of the line you won’t be tempted to cry/sit on the floor/kill them with your stylishly spiky heels.
Take a big bag
If you are a blogger there is a lot of potentially useful information you can collect and you’ll need a bag to put it in. Look Books, Press Packs, copies of Drapers, free chocolate (thanks Oxfam) they’re all big and heavy and need somewhere to live. They did give you a LFW Tote Bag when you registered, except I somehow missed out as I went to Fast Trak and to start with everything was in my handbag (my Lulu Guinness City Tote, why not try and win your own ;o) ). I did grab a tote later on, which brings me to my next tip.
Ask for help
There are people dressed in black, generally hovering around the info signs. They are wearing big badges that say “HELP” (or something like that). Oddly enough they are there to help and when you ask them a question what they do NOT do is fix you with a withering stare like you don’t belong. They tell you what you need to know, and then they smile. Weird.
Take plenty of Business Cards
Seriously, I took about 10 (I mean, who gives a crap about me?) and I’d run out by lunch time. The PRs on the exhibition stands are there to make contacts just as much as you are, and they want your details, make sure you have them to give.
Look at the Exhibition
Like I said, the Catwalks have the glamour, but not only is the exhibition stuffed with useful new discoveries, but each stand tends to be manned by PR people, and they don’t only represent one client. Making contacts here, even if that specific stand isn’t of massive relevance to you, could really benefit you in the future.
Some people are arses who will demonstrate not the slightest bit of interest in discussing their product or design with you. Some of them are lovely, friendly, open people who want to chat with you about life, let you admire their shoes, try on their hats and form useful business relationships. Don’t try and impress the first kind, they’re not worth it, they’ve already read your badge and decided you’re not important enough to talk to. Their loss.
Don’t buy lunch at Somerset House
This salad cost £5.25 (Yes, I’m a Blogger, I’m allowed to photograph my lunch). There are cheaper and yummier places round the corner.