The REAL London Fashion Week survival kit
At this time of year we're always inundated with 'fashion week survival kit' press releases. Usually they're full of suggestions like blister plasters, vitamin tablets, dry shampoo, tablet computers, iphone accessories and (this year) anti-bac gel (not a bad idea, actually). But having 'done' LFW since about 2005, we know the truth, and have put together an alternative guide of the things that get us through a busy LFW. Fashion Week is less about lugging an entire medical kit and the contents of PC World in your bag, and more about surviving with only a clutch bag and a DSLR. After all, a girl can't ruin her perfectly thought out street style look with a huge bag. OR CAN SHE...??
The London Fashion Week Tote Bag
Most press and bloggers have tote bags coming out of their ears, but none cause such a stir as the official London Fashion Week tote, which is handed out when you register at Somerset House for the purposes of storing all your show guides and vitamin water. Coupled with the sexy LFW lanyard everyone gets given, this bag says 'I deserve to be here' more than any amount of ombre hair or Michael Kors rose gold bling. When the process changed and suddenly bloggers were no longer given the bags at registration, there was uproar. One year a tourist burst into tears when one of our team gave her the bag after she asked where she could get one (no, really). All this for a bit of cotton? Well, perhaps it's the designer connection - up until last season, the official LFW tote bag was designed by Mulberry and featured everything from trompe l'oiel illustrations to monsters to coincide with their shows. For Feb 2013 Mulberry will still do the show bag, but the London Fashion Weekend bag is by Radley.
If you look at street style shots from LFW, you'd be forgiven for thinking that everyone at fashion week struts around in designer platforms for the whole five days. Some people do. They are magical creatures, like Unicorns and Slow Lorises and Cara Delevingne. But here's the truth - Somerset House has cobblestones. I like my ankles to remain intact, thanks. The Topshop Show Space and off-site shows are often miles away from the nearest tube station. Unless you are lucky enough to have a car at your disposal to ferry you from show to show, you're going to be in flats by the end. Unless you have botox on the soles of your feet or a very high pain threshold. So start hunting down the perfect statement flats right now. Those manky old ballet flats will not do. Get thee to Zara immediately.
The Fashion Week Diet
No, this is not some crazy low carb thing you do beforehand so you can fit into your sample size Christopher Kane. It's what you eat during the actual week, when you're so busy there is no time to consume full meals. Those in the know make sure to attend the early shows at the Topshop space, where there are bacon rolls and OJ on tap. I hope you like gourmet popcorn and tiny, tiny food, because that's what you'll subside on for the rest of the day. Lunch break? Pah! Not if you're reporting live. Liquid refreshment comes in the form of Vita Coco and Vitamin Water before 12pm, and champagne after that (duh). You're also never too far from Lavazzo coffee for your caffeine fix. Like brownies? Sneak backstage where all the good stuff is hiding because models actually eat and they need to be in some kind of intense sugar / carb coma to get them through the insanely long days (glamorous it is not). By grazing on all this stuff it's quite easy to lose weight during fashion week were it not for one thing - the inevitable late night takeaway that gets you through all the 1am show report write-ups. Papa John's, come to momma...
The one thing that is sure to get you through fashion week is knowing that other people are in it with you. We might moan about the long days but the truth is we LOVE IT and it's the teamwork, solidarity and dedication that makes the whole week so much fun. Sharing the early morning starts (we're sometimes backstage at 6am), organising complicated technology changeovers (5 girls, one DSLR, a world of trouble - we've expanded our collection since that year!) and having someone to stand in endless queues with makes it all so much more bearable, and nothing beats actually knowing someone at the parties. Plus when you do the 'what we wore to fashion week' posts, you have someone to take the pictures.
A Standing Ticket
No, you didn't read that wrong. Unless you are lucky enough to be part of the FROW crowd, we've quickly come to the conclusion that a standing ticket is actually the next best thing at some shows. Why? Well despite running for years and years, LFW still suffers because the seating at many venues isn't on enough of an incline, so anyone behind the front row will struggle to see anything from the waist down. Add to this the fact some people think it's ok to sit in the FROW and whip out an ipad to photograph the whole collection - thus ensuring anyone sat behind them only gets to see things through their ipad - and you're basically stuck there thinking 'why didn't I just watch the livestream'? It's true, nothing beats the atmosphere of being at a show, seeing the clothes move and being part of the whole experience, but if your ticket doesn't have that glorious gold star, consider sacrificing your row 6 seat to stand at the back - you might even see the shoes.
A Small, Furry Distraction
"But dahhhling, my pug can't possibly sit on the fourth row. He only does FROW, don'tcha know?" Never underestimate the power of a cute pup when it comes to securing your place as one of the LFW elite. People have even been known to borrow pugs for the week (for an undercover story, natch). Fashion people love a tiny pet accessory, especially if teamed with Nicholas Kirkwood heels and massive sunglasses. Kittens are less accomodating, but thanks to Karl and Choupette, far more stylish this season. Just remember to clean up after your small and furry. Crap on the runway should be left to the designers themselves. LOL.
Boring and surprisingly heavy tech
Think my bag's full of Marc Jacobs purses and MAC lipstick and a Smythson notebook? No, it's full of chargers. And SD cards. And what can only be described as the heaviest netbook in the world. When you're at shows from 9am to 9pm, tweeting, posting and taking pictures throughout, you're going to need your phone, camera and laptop chargers. Luckily, the principle LFW sponsor is Vodafone, who provide charging stations in the communal areas and sometimes even in the seats for your phone. For the rest of your tech, you're going to have to fight for plug sockets in the press room, bloggers lounge or nearest Starbucks. Good luck with that.
ps. Tomorrow we'll be giving away one of the items featured in this guide over on Twitter. Sorry, it's not the pug.