It’s been a surreal season this London Fashion Week. I set out with one agenda and finished up with quite another, which illustrates perfectly the joys of being freelance and having to be prepared for anything. Work as a fashion freelancer can definitely be compared to London buses - you can wait around for ages until your feet get sore then several all come at once.
I stayed at the Hospital Club (newly rebranded the H Club) as usual, for it’s home from home vibe and proximity to the Strand and Freemasons Hall, where the majority of the shows took place. I arrived with a variety of killer outfits, freshly sharpened elbows and frow-ready shades that Anna Winter herself be envious of, and embarked upon my show marathon.
The BFC Showspace at 180 the Strand played things a little differently this time, and held the consumer event ‘The London Fashion Week Festival’ alongside Fashion Week itself. This led to larger than usual crowds and reduced capacity at shows, much to the grievance of the designers, PRs and industry media like myself. I overheard many a frustrated fashionista complain that they were directed the wrong way and ended up in the wrong show. I have no idea why this decision was taken but it was without doubt a bad one. Budgets and funding have been slashed in fashion enough and we have all suffered as a result of it. BFC - please don’t cut them any further.
Fashion Week (or month, if you count New York, Milan and Paris) is such an important event for so many reasons; we preview the future collections; get a handle on the trends; network; win new work and meet up with old friends, but most importantly, we all reconnect with our passion for this industry and remember why we are in it. Goodness knows that if we weren’t all totally in love with fashion we would not be trying to earn a living in this sector which is essentially broken financially - as for the reasons why, well that’s another article for another time…
Back to the shows: I am still trying to gain entry into the biggest events, such as Victoria Beckham and Roland Mouret. Every season I apply along with all the other fashion journalists but so far my name isn’t quite big enough (I’m working on that), however I enjoyed a good selection of on and off-schedule shows across a variety of venues.
Stand outs include On/Off Presents - the finale of Fashion Week held in the BFC show space that everyone always looks forward to - an vibrant showcase of international emerging designers including the talented duo Longshaw Ward - whom I have previously shot for International Excellence Magazine and the inimitable Colin Horgan. The show was a riot of colour and we left elated, ready to party the night away at the closing party.
Paul Costello is always a joy, and his latest collection is probably my favourite yet. We were treated to a feast of sumptuous military-inspired pieces in a rich, earthy palette of gunmetal, bronze and rich reds. My friend Fleur McCrone was lead-dresser for this, so I always have everything crossed and breath held when I view it, but as usual, not a thread was out of place.
I wish I could say the same for the Fashion Scout shows at Freemasons Hall - most of which had dispensed with the need for a stylist completely. Big mistake. Models walked the runway in creased, grubby garments, making many of the collections look untidy and cheap. It’s always the little details that make the biggest impact and no little detail went unnoticed under those bright photographers lights. I also wish more attention would be paid to the shoes - it is imperative that they not only fit properly, but that they compliment the outfit - most didn’t.
There was the usual argy-bargy outside Freemasons to get into the shows, some ran late, others you had to be 45 minutes early for to even have a chance of getting in - I love you Dr Pam Hogg, but the queues for your shows are always such a scrum - and as usual there was some choice people watching on the FROW, which typically included a mixture of fashion royalty and reality TV stars.
The stand out show at Freemasons had to be Rocky Star. It was early Saturday evening, and after a very mediocre day of shows, I for once felt alive and invigorated as we watched the latest collection paraded down the runway. Rocky was inspired by Vatican architecture and in particular the painting ‘Separation of light from darkness’ and we enjoyed exciting contrasts and textures featuring feathers, lace, organza feathers and velvet including some particularly fabulous metallic fringed trousers, which I am already planning to shoot.
The other highly memorable event was only a presentation - these are usually static versions of the runway shows where the models stand still, and are usually not as compelling as their catwalk counterparts, but this was entirely different - a total treat.
Malan Breton is quickly becoming a fashion megastar in his own right. Loved by Fashion Editors for his stunning silhouettes and dramatic designs in sumptuous fabrics that bring the drama to the most mundane of fashion shoots, Malan effortlessly took things to the next level in his ground-breaking presentation.
Having waited in an impatient throng in a dark and very crowded Soho alley, we stepped into the House of St Barnabas, a beautiful listed mansion, decorated to look highly reminiscent of a film set dating back to the 1920s.
We started in the chapel, and watched the models slow dancing as couples in their finery to eery music, then passed through the building, discovering a collection of beautifully composed period tableaux; models played card games, conversed and sipped retro Martinis. There was even a recreation of the movie Sunset Boulevard on the grand staircase.
The venue was crowded, and I was extremely grateful for the free bar and fresh air in the courtyard at the end, but the whole collection was utterly exquisite, as we viewed Malan’s masterful tailoring and beautifully structured garments in this wonderfully theatrical setting. Malan was there in person and it was wonderful to be able to congratulate him. I was utterly spellbound throughout.
I intended to attend far more shows and do more networking this season than than I actually managed, as very early on I picked up a new music client who needed a very special outfit for the Brits and then got selected to be part of a tv programme on global digital channel Fashion One and spent a lot of time filming. So instead of quaffing champagne and hobnobbing with my peers, I was bingeing on de-puffing face packs and early nights in order to keep all the balls in the air - thankfully, I have become very adept at boarding multiple buses at once!
To contact Miranda Holder please email [email protected] or visit her Instagram @mirandaholderldn