I slipped past the paparazzi stationed outside London Fashion Week on Friday by cunningly disguising myself as a man in his fifties with no dress sense.
London Fashion Week is based at Somerset House, which is where our office is. One of the things I didn’t realise before we moved in three months ago is quite how much stuff goes on in the courtyard. Over the summer the whole place was converted into an outdoor cinema courtesy of Film 4. At Christmas we’ll have the ice rink. In the last week two huge mirror-finish gazebos housing catwalks have been constructed and now fill the square.
London Fashion Week, for those like me that shop in the dark, is the most important fashion event of the British fashion calendar and one of the most important events in the fashion world. Even those Marks and Spencer EZ-waist trousers that you’re wearing, reader, will have been influenced in some small way by what wanders down the catwalk at Somerset House.
As I walked into the square, now teeming with life, I spotted the finished mirror-coated gazebos. Suddenly the mirrors made sense – they’re for checking hair and adjusting dress. Kevin McCloud would have soliloquized: “In the end, the question floats on the perfumed air around this build like the softest pashmina in a breeze. We are invited to ask, as we investigate our reflected selves, how much of the material is medium and how much is message?”
If I’d had my way, they’d have gone for a hall of mirrors effect, turning the slim, 6ft models into multi-coloured beach balls.
The mirror walls were strangely magnetic. Hundreds of designers and models were gathered around them, like fridge magnets. They were also already the preferred backdrop for TV interviews with designers. Conveniently, interviewers were able to look over the designers’ shoulders to see that they looked OK themselves – vital in this televisual age. It gave me the chance to photobomb – or ‘accessorise’ if you will – an interview. See?
Lots of the costumes are amazing. There was a man walking around in a natty suit, the colour of soy-marinated chicken, with a Lucozade-coloured pork pie hat perched on his head. Fantastic for a tour guide or for general security purposes I thought. A triumph of style AND function.
The cobble stones and high heels seemed to mix quite well in the square, which surprised me. Maybe there is a special cobblestone treadmill that people can train on for these sorts of things. If not, you can have that idea for free, fashion industry.
Some of the photographers were fantastically dapper, too. I briefly wondered whether designers and models now carry high end cameras around with them like clutch bags for regular selfies. But I was wrong.
Some people, showcasing their designs, looked like they had stepped off the Dr Who set. Walking down the ramps from the futuristic gazebos, some looked like they had just landed from another planet. “We come in (this funky new) piece, earthlings”, they might say.
There was a slight wind in the square from the west, I noticed. It was playing havoc with the hair of a few people arriving, rendering a sort of combover effect across their faces. One arrival had the foresight to arrange an advance party who checked the wind, light conditions and barometric pressure before she walked through the arches. Personal wind assistant. Nice touch. As an added defense against the weather, the organisers had installed something called the Tony and Guy blow off bar to deal with hair emergencies.
Hair, generally, was eyecatching. Every pantone shade you can imagine – though lots of rusts and blues. Some people had topiary hair. This was my favourite.
A word about men. Lots of very stylish men. Men with implausibly flat backs, like they were built to stand in the windows of shops with jackets draped on them. Lots of men with very high hairstyles. Hairstyles arranged like monochrome Masterchef salads. (“Now I’m going to build the dish”) Not many moustaches – only two seen. Both were that ‘letter 3’ style’ popular with fin de trend Hipsters. If you ask me, this style was stolen from Zebedee, that character on a spring off the children’s programme, The Magic Roundabout. Every time I see one I hear the Zebedee spring noise in my head – a sort of flat twanging sound, like the elastic on EZwaist trousers has gone.
Neon colours were everywhere, occasionally making it difficult to distinguish between security staff, stewards, designers and models. Everybody wants to be eye-catching and make heads turn, but I did wonder whether a fluorescent shirt might backfire a bit and ultimately set up a designer for disappointment. I mean, how often for example, might they be asked “excuse me, do you work here” or “where are the loos” or “can you fetch my Bentley”? Just a thought.
Back to men and their hair, briefly. The high hair trend in men supports my theory that hair length/height reflects economic confidence. High hair equals good economic times. Remember the late eighties? Down hair (think of the last 7 or 8 years or the 70s) says ‘times are tough’. High plus stubble equals good prospects laced with uncertainty. Hair, in other words, is like a bar chart of economic confidence. Ponder that one. London Fashion Week may well be as important (as well as self-important) an event as Davos.
Now I’m home and so glad to get out of these shoes. Roll on Monday.