You can come back home, back on your own

I had one last fling with London Fashion Week. Yesterday morning, I popped up to Vauxhall Fashion Scout (which was not in Vauxhall, but rather, sponsored by the car company). Now, at this point, I have to take some issue with the maps on my iPhone. I’ve never had an issue with it before, but either I’d put the postcode in wrong (hugely unlikely), or the Maps app had changed where the location was overnight (this is almost definitely what happened.) Anyway, I ended up heading off in completely the wrong direction, considering mounting one of Boris’s bikes, but ultimately totally stressing about. I was only in town for the two shows at VFS, and quite frankly, when you’ve paid THAT much for a train fare, you want to actually achieve what you set out to.

It was easy to work out when I was getting closer. In a world full of suits, just follow the girl with the green hair, or the chick with the turban, and you can be fairly sure they’ll be off to a fashion event. Picking up the pace to cover the last bit of ground – it was now 10.15, and the first show was due to start at 10. Thank god for dodgy Fashion Week scheduling, as I raced up, only to spot a giant queue snaking out of the building. I jumped in, and didn’t get in till around 10.35ish.

Vauxhall Fashion Scout is one of the up and coming showcases taking place during LFW, and has received lots of coverage, including Elle and Vogue. It was held in the Freemasons’ Hall in the City, and certainly the second show I saw, Elisa Palomino, made amazing use of that. We sat in a chapel (if Freemasons’ have ‘chapels’), opera rising up in the background, with models appearing outside the iron gates of the chapel and strolling in. It was an incredible show, and I’m still getting chills just thinking about it.

I had some time to spare before meeting Nanna for frozen yogurt, and decided to go and buy some flat shoes. I thought I’d pop up to Primark on Oxford Street, and decided that I wouldn’t get the tube, but would walk up. I went kind of a strange way, through Covent Garden and Leicester Square, and it took me about an hour. I was most definitely in need of those flat shoes by then, so nabbed a pair of teal flats with a crazy kind of bejewelled, feather detail. I also spotted the Holy Grail, the thing I’d been searching for – a black floppy 70s hat. I hardly ever let myself go shopping anymore, due to massive financial constraints, but to treat myself to two very cheap things instead of just grabbing armfuls actually felt more exciting. But that’s a story for another day.

Flats slipped on and bowler switched for the new floppy hat, I walked off again to Covent Garden. Now, frozen yogurt is something I’ve only fairly recently got into, but my god – if you haven’t tried it, you need to, NOW. We ate at Snog on Garrick Street. Pink guava and chocolate with brownie pieces, blueberries and raspberries. Seriously yum. After that, Nanna and I took a walk down to Somerset House to people watch. Having recently streaked her hair with pink (which has given me such serious hair envy I can’t even think about it that much), Nanna fitted right in. It was a lot quieter down there, but we did see a man in a geisha costume.

After a quick coffee pit stop, we wandered down onto the Embankment. This is one of my favourite things to do at this time of year. I love looking across at those great chunks of grey on the Southbank, glowering over the murky Thames. It’s so bleakly beautiful. We crossed the rive and perched ourselves in one of the few exceptions to the ‘grey’ rule: The Dishoom Chowpatty Beach Bar. I’d heard about this pop-up bar ages ago, and it lived up to expectations. Sadly, they were out of coconuts for us to drink from, but we settled for some kind of delicious strawberry cocktail. I was very taken with a clock showing English and Bombay times, illustrated by two men whose moustaches formed the clock hands.

Then it was home time. I was exhausted. I’d walked for about three hours in total. I read The Stylist. Some chavvy girls laughed at my hat on the train. Thank God I wasn’t a 6” something man dressed as a geisha.

Now the party’s over…I’m so tired…

It’s the Monday after my first London Fashion Week, and I. Am. Shattered. What an absolutely incredible few days, though. I had no idea whatsoever about what to expect, but it was an unbelievable experience. Every day was absolutely rammed, going from show to show, stalking around on vertiginous heels, eating weird things at odd times, drinking bubbly sporadically throughout the day…There’s such a buzz all around London, this sort of surging energy that pulls you in.

I loved just standing in the Somerset House courtyard, in the sunshine (and rain), watching. I liked the kind of meta-voyeurism of watching people being watched. I liked the way the photographers moved like a shoal of fish, changing direction as some new important person walked into the arena. Before shows started, there would be a kind of stillness, a quietness. It felt a bit muffled, like when it snows. And then suddenly a spark would ignite somewhere, a sudden static energy rippling through the crowds, breaking the spell.

I didn’t think I was going to care about what I wore. I didn’t plan ahead, only for the first day, and that was only by lucky chance that I picked up something new to wear. Everything I’d read prior to attending said ‘don’t even worry – no one will be looking at you’. This is absolute RUBBISH. People look. The general public look at you as you leave the station and walk down The Strand. As you approach Somerset House, other LFW-attendees give you the look up and down. It’s just automatic, it doesn’t mark you out as special, it’s just an involuntary thing that most people in fashion do. A very quick sweep, feet up to hat.

With street style blogs and websites springing up everywhere, photographers are not simply there to snap a covert pic of Anna Wintour, or any of the other Frow-ers. I was surprised, when I first entered Somerset House, to feel someone grab my arm and ask if they could take a picture of me. It happened again subsequently, and it’s surprising how quickly you get used to holding a conversation, quickly turning to be snapped, then returning to the chat again. Also, once one photographer hauls you out to take a picture of you, others will follow suit. I’m not saying I was wearing anything particularly bizarre, fabulous, or attention grabbing – and I’m still convinced I’m going to spot myself on some blog under the title ‘What were they thinking? The worst of LFW’, but still. It was very flattering.

By Saturday night, my head was pounding. As we’d been at a lot of the up-and-coming, ‘one to watch’ shows, we were getting front row seats. You stare at a blindingly white catwalk, feel this pounding bass that seems to hit right into you, you smell a myriad of heavy, cloying perfumes. You drink fruity, sweet bubbly. The flash and click of cameras is endless. The heat of lights and bodies combine. It’s hypnotic and overwhelming.

What else, then? Well, Sunday morning we attended the British Fashion Council-hosted Estethica brunch. Estethica is a sort of collective, I suppose, formed of various ethical designers and trying to raise awareness of the impact of climate change on the planet. We grabbed bucks fizz and Bloody Marys, and sauntered around. I’ll do a write up on this properly soon, as some of the things we saw were absolutely mindblowing (dresses made from yak nipples, anyone?)

I have a huge thank you to make to Rachel Montague-Ebbs, who made the whole thing possible for me. I’ll be helping her with LFW coverage for her website, www.LadyMPresents.co.uk, as well as writing various ramblings in future. I never thought I’d get to attend such an amazing event, specially not this early in my writing ‘career’, and I’ll be eternally grateful for everything I’ve been given. Thank you so much, Rachel.

The other important thing is, I’m going to get a proper camera. No more crappy iPhone pics. That being said, there are some crappy iPhone pics in this post for your enjoyment.

Sorry it’s all been a bit more serious and fashion related recently, chaps. There’ll be some chirpier bits to come, promise.