The Apartment @ LFW

London Fashion Week is a bit of an assault on the senses. It’s a survival course, and only the best prepared thrive. You start the days feeling smugly perky, and then as time goes on, you find your laptop and DSLR getting heavier and heavier, your feet starting to hurt, your head pounding from the music and camera flashes in the show space, your hands starting to shake from the revolting amount of Vitamin Water and coffee you’ve consumed. Normal eating habits go out of the window. It isn’t that no one eats – more that when food does appear, it’s pounced on by a pack of ravenous press.

I love it, but it exhausts me. I often find myself wanting a haven where I can unwind a bit, have a nice chat with other bloggers, and…regroup a bit, really, to use a horrible American phrase. Enter the Apartment, stage left. Created by blogger Abi Marvel (and she really is a marvel), the Apartment rolls into town during LFW to provide a space for bloggers to learn more about a variety of brands, to network with each other, to sit on a sofa and watch Friends, and most importantly to EAT FOOD.

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The Apartment is a fantastic, creative concept that just happens to be a heaven for bloggers. I enjoyed getting an insight into different brands that I wouldn’t have otherwise had – for example, I got to grill a lovely chap called Ian about the exciting new Windows products on the market. I’m a bit fed up with Apple so it was great to actually get hands-on with the products in a completely unpressurised environment.

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Other things: I got to try on a beautiful Baume & Mercier watch, see Rimmel’s new product range, have my hair jooshed by the boys from John Frieda (we deliberated over how to spell joosh for hashtagging purposes). I munched on striped meringues and a deconstructed bannoffee pie from Leon, lusted after shoes from Russell & Bromley, learned about a great blogging service called Reward Style, and met some absolutely charming people, including Abi herself. I’m in awe of the girl – just 20, balancing studies with work with being a crazily busy entrepreneur, AND a lovely person to boot.

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Something that really captured the attention of guests was, perhaps surprisingly, the stack of jewellery from Claire’s. I haven’t stepped foot in Claire’s since I was about 15 and nursing a horrible little penchant for neo-gothic jewellery. Needless to say, it wasn’t my most sartorially brilliant hour. But seeing a collection of the jewels at The Apartment was brilliant – Claire’s have some great stuff! We were encouraged to pile on a stack of the jewellery, and the most overused phrase of the day was ‘I can’t BELIEVE this is from Claire’s’. I loaded up on spiked bracelets and statement chain necklaces, and I’ll definitely be heading in to a branch next time I pass one.

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Abi has created something fun, vibrant and welcoming to bloggers, and something especially perfect for newbies to fashion week, as it provides a cosy home for the week. It felt like popping around to a friend’s house and lazing about eating yummy pizza and while lolling on comfy sofas, a very welcome relief from the high pressure environment of the week. My congratulations go to Abi for a successful project and a great fun adventure for weary bloggers. Thanks Abi for letting me come along and get stuck in! It was my highlight of the week.

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London Fashion Week Days 4&5

On day four of LFW, I hadn’t actually intended to even go up, but after enjoying ourselves so much on Saturday Grace and I had decided to head in. First up was the Liliyang press event in the Mikado Room of The Savoy. An incredible location with wooden walls and plenty of black lacquer. It suited the luxury handbags perfectly, and Grace and I both fell in love with the IDA bag, an oversized bag with plenty of pocket space and the awesome ‘hand-warmer’ facility; which is essentially a place to pop your Oyster card/phone/wallet/essential supply of macaroons, which can be really easily accessed.

We spent a huge amount of time ogling the bags, and as ever I’ll be writing up in full for LadyMPresents.co.uk. We sipped Earl Grey from delicate china teacups and saved the special Liliyang fortune cookies to break open on our way to Somerset House for the Felicities Presents event in the Portico rooms. The event was absolutely rammo, but I spotted some fascinating designs, including a stunning dress by an urban brand called Phannatiq. (Twitter is @Phannatiq). We scooped up the ingenious cocktails, which were delicious raspberry martinis in smoothie bottles, and peeked into the adorable goodie bags which contained, amongst other things, knickers in a tin. Always useful!

We eventually decided to call it a night, sloping off to get the train, chocolate bars from the Chocolate Alchemist at the ready for our journeys, and I headed home to organise myself for Day 5 and catch up on some much needed beauty sleep. I woke up on the morning of the final day feeling like I should be in Sean of the Dead, so much was my need for sleep. The bags under my eyes were starting to catch up with my Mulberry showbag, and I was starting to struggle.

I know it sounds churlish to say I’m tired out by being at Fashion Week, but it’s not just about whizzing along to nice shows and watching pretty models and lazing around drinking interesting things and eating nice food, much as those may be the bits we all tend to talk about the most. Nope, it’s very early starts, hours of pounding the cobbles in Somerset House, dashing from show to show and rushing up to a myriad of well-dressed London denizens to get street style shots. It’s an awful lot of queuing in the cold and in heels, scrabbling to try and write your copy while you’ve got some time on your hands. It’s never quite having enough to eat and running down tube escalators to get to your next show on time. It’s late nights of events then going home to write copy, hours of photo editing, focused networking, and plenty of caffeine. I’ve loved every minute, but there’s no denying it’s hard work!

Back to Day 5. I kicked off the day with a long bout of queuing outside Vauxhall Fashion Scout waiting to get into the Leutton Postle presentation, which was exceptionally fun. Neons, Navajo, fringing, glitter, fine knits…it had everything. And bellinis at breakfast time, which I probably shouldn’t have had. After the presentation, I ran to the press lounge to get an hour or work in, chucking down some Zeo stuff thanks to the lovely Beach Blanket Babylon barman. Like a hawk, I also procured some edamame beans for myself that came sailing past on a tray. Win!

My final show of the day was Nova Chiu, which was heavy on bright prints, and where Ultravox’s ‘Vienna’ was played prior to the show starting, much to my delight. From there it was back to Somerset House to have my makeup done in the Mac Media Booth, by the charming Sarah from the Mac team in Newcastle. She gave me violet eye shadow to match the orchid in my hair, a whisper of opal shimmer on my cheeks, and one of my all time favourite Mac lipsticks, called Crème Cup, on my lips. I was given a very generous Mac goodie bag, and then my LFW adventure was over for another season. Back home via the Southbank, to start writing up pieces on the train home, and during the evening. Snore.

London Fashion Week Day 2

Quite frankly, after Day 1, I was already pretty exhausted. The days just seem to take it out of you – way too much coffee and vitaminwater floating around, not nearly enough food. I started the day at Somerset House, meeting up with my editor Rachel. I used the time to get some street style photography in, devour some yummy espresso frozen yogurt, and sing loudly along to alt-j, which was blaring out in the courtyard. I got photographed a few times myself, as had opted for a fairly eye-catching floral crown; and I got interviewed by a lovely chap about what I was wearing.

 

Next it was up to Vauxhall Fashion Scout to see the beautiful Ji Cheng show, which was absolutely stunning. Again, full write ups will be on my work websites, so just a quick overview on here. The editor of Vogue China was front row, as was Kate Nash, who had a rather intriguing Cruella De Vil hairstyle going on. After that I went to the press lounge to chill, and drank an awful lot of this stuff called Zeo water, which is supposed to make you feel rather giggly. They had a nice chap from Beach Blanket Babylon making the drinks into non-alcoholic cocktails, with cucumber and rosemary, lime and agave syrup etc. Really yummy stuff, I’ll definitely be serving it as a booze free cocktail!

Then it was a dash off to Goldsmith’s Hall for the Jeffrey Michael show. I have to say, I love the venue hugely, but it’s a massive trek out, and the show was probably less than 10 minutes long, so a bit frustrating! I was starting to really flag after literally running from Mansion House to the hall  in heels, and eating only a tiny cup of fro yo and a bag of low calorie popcorn. Never trust anything low calorie, I always say! The show was actually rather beautiful, full of strange and interesting textures and technicolour, and with the ever fascinating front row presence of Pandemonia.

Like a bat out of hell, I moved from the Goldsmith’s Hall (by the way, I’m not saying it was hell. Or that I’m a bat) back to Covent Garden where I got stuck in the Saturday night people traffic while making my way to the Royal Opera House. By this stage, I was dizzy and increasingly disoriented, and desperately trying to get to the venue on the time. I saw the presentation of A La Disposition in the Crush Room, which was impeccably presented and had a theme of ‘Misfit Toys’, but the creepy chiming music box children’s soundtrack made me feel even weirder. As I left, I was proffered a goodie bag containing sweets and one of those Jean Paul Gaultier designed Coke bottles. I’ve literally never been so happy to see a goodie bag, and I ate it like some sort of well dressed pig on my walk back to Vauxhall Fashion Scout.

Back to the bliss of the VFS Press Lounge, where I collapsed into a squishy leather armchair, had some more Zeos and a Vita Coco, and tried to pep myself up for the evening. Bernard Chandran went some of the way to perking me up  – an incredible show by the man whose clothes have been worn by Gaga, Estelle and Rihanna. Very New York, very sports luxe, and extremely glossy. I met my friend Grace and we headed off to the Bloomsbury Ballroom for Fashion Retrospective, an event mounted by the truly awesome Bourne & Hollingsworth. You can read my full write up here, but let me just say it was beyond fantastic. We drank Gatsby cocktails out of champagne coupettes, saw some of the most incredible vintage pieces on the catwalk, watched a man drive a Vespa through the middle of the ballroom, and ogled the hot waiters. Strongly, strongly recommend getting along to one of their events.

I was nearly dead the next day, so didn’t go anywhere on Sunday, but Days 4 & 5 will be coming soon…

London Fashion Week Day 1

Hi all. I’m only giving an overview on here as writing it up in full for LadyMPresents.co.uk and Jean et Jupe, my new business blog. The first day was absolutely brills. I headed up to Somerset House hideously early for Antoni & Alison, the first show of the week at 9am, and to collect my press pass and Mulberry showbag, which this season features a little gnomey man, much to my enjoyment. I perched in the cafe with a double shot latte to shelter from the oncoming drizzle, looking out into the courtyard. Even at that time, in a half empty courtyard, the atmosphere was still beginning to buzz.

I wholeheartedly love London Fashion Week, and this time around it reminded me irresistibly of the feel of the London Olympics. Walking around seeing people in uniforms or with passes slung around their necks, smiling widely. When I talk to my friends about LFW, a lot of them expect it to be bitchy, aggressive and terrifying. Maybe I’ve been lucky with my experiences, but I’ve found it to be the opposite – people are cheerful, friendly, stopping to take photos, and everyone seems willing to chat. In fact, the only rudeness I encountered was from two women in the queue for one of the shows, who weren’t in fact ‘fashion people’ but knew the designer, as they kept pointedly announcing very loudly!

Antoni & Alison was a beautiful show – conceptual and more towards art than fashion. The pair focussed just on dresses, hand painted, quirky, fun and beautiful. There was a live brass band playing on the catwalk! If you’ve ever wanted to see a bunch of old boys in red uniforms taking their turn on the catwalk, then A&A was the right show for it. Then after a vitaminwater pitstop, it was back in the queue for Caroline Charles. I’m still not quite sure what to make of the show – for me, I felt it was trying to do too much. It straddled tribal prints, neons, lace on lace, and 90s grunge, and I felt it was perhaps not as cohesive as it could have been. Corrie Nielsen on the other hand was high concept, breath-taking and botanically inspired.

I had over an hour before my next show, so headed to the BFC press lounge, which is heaven on a stick. As I was in there, it hit me that I was doing exactly what I dreamt of doing at the age of 14/15. Cheesy moment I’m afraid guys, but I found it really exciting. And I think it’s important to remember that – I don’t care if it’s not very cool and if I should look jaded about the whole experience and bored out of my mind, but I’ve been finding every single moment of it absolutely thrilling. Whether I’m frantically cranking out copy in the press lounge or just people watching in the courtyard, the atmosphere is inimitable.

It’s a huge privilege to be able to see collections that so many people have worked hard on for months. It’s not about shopping or buying or ‘ooh, this skirt looks really good with this top’ – it’s about art, concepts and influences, and I find myself getting chills down my spine when I suddenly recognize something in the collection – the huge earrings that evoke Edie Sedgwick, or the blue silk eye mask from Breakfast at Tiffany’s repurposed as a headband. I love it all. At Vauxhall Fashion Scout last year, I cried when watching the Elisa Palomino show. Every time I’ve been, LFW has reminded me exactly why I’m in this industry, and working hard at it.

Truly soppy post, but I’m endlessly grateful that I’ve been given the chance to go, and I’ve been determined to make the most of it. (Oscars style acceptance speech ahoy!) I’d like to thank my editor Rachel at LadyMPresents, all the amazing PR people I’ve talked to and who have been so generous with tickets and their time, the incredible staff at LFW, the brilliant people I’ve met so far, and the friends who have come and helped me, and made it such a good experience. Hope all of you who have been too have had as good a time, and please do link me to any of your write ups! LFW Day 2 coming soon…

What I’m wearing to London Fashion Week SS13

A post that does what it says on the tin.

LFW now officially starts the day after tomorrow, and unlike every other time I’ve been, I’ve tried my best to be organised. It’s not an event you can approach halfheartedly – I’ve found that in my previous jaunts along, I’ve always wished I could have prepared myself a little more. The whole thing is a ridiculous; I expect military campaigns have been exercised with less forward-planning.

I thought the most difficult part was applying for my press pass and show tickets. That alone was a process that took days; drafting ticket request emails, printing the mail merge doc of the press contacts, painstakingly emailing each one and ticking them off the list…I thought I was done! But no. Tickets have come in, I’ve had to lay them on the floor and divide them up into days, then devise a schedule to make sure no shows clashed, then choose which to RSVP to, THEN look at my schedule and see if I needed to stay in London at all, and if so, which nights, and with which kind friends. And if I’m staying at so and so’s on that particular night, should I take my Mac so I can do write ups? And if I do that, I’ll have to go back to theirs before I go home to pick my stuff up and….AAAARGH.

Outfit planning was another big part. I know it sounds horribly vacuous, and I’ve found LFW actually delightfully laid back in terms of what you can wear. That said, because I’m trying to plan ahead, I need to know exactly what I’m wearing for each day, down to the tiniest earring. I’ve never been good about this kind of stuff. I even found it difficult to get ready for school in the mornings, and I had a uniform, for christ’s sake. I’ve gradually been accumulating things in piles in my room, and today I decided to pull them out and start forming some outfits. They may not be particularly crazy, but I’m afraid to say I was more keen to make them comfy. The whole thing is a nightmare of strategic dressing – finding something that you can wear from show to a meeting over coffee to an after party, and shoes that will look dressy enough but also allow you to walk from, say, Somerset House to Vauxhall Fashion Scout.

I’ve just read that back, and wow – let’s break out the tiny violins. You know what? I can’t wait for the whole experience. I feel so lucky to be able to go, and to get the opportunity. But being this organised is totally alien to me!! So without further ado, here are a few of the outfits I’m going for…Scuse the face, by the way. I couldn’t be bothered to put any makeup on, so went for the ol’ ‘giant sunnies/hair in face’ look.

A note on not giving up, Part Two

Things started to look up in January. I can recall having just one moment where I experienced the highly unoriginal sentiment ‘life’s too short’, for the first time. I’d trekked into work, suffered a 40 minute bus journey where I’d stood up all the way, surrounded by screaming children, terrifying looking chavs, and people who looked like they’d given up on life. I then jumped on a train for the remainder of my journey, which was delayed Every. Single. Day. I got into work, late, for a day of being screamed at over the phone by people I’d never met. And then I realised. Life’s too short to make a daily three hour round trip to a job in a call centre that made me miserable. Life is TOO SHORT to not be doing what I want, and to not even try.

And from then on, it just sort of clicked in. I began to engage more with life. I moved on from the call centre, heard back from the job I wanted in advertising, and I began to blog more. I started setting myself blogging challenges, focussed around doing things for other people, or trying something new. I enrolled in Race for Life and started running. I started organising events and trying to see a lot more of my friends. Slowly but surely, things started to change.

The main difference was actually something incredibly easy to do. I mentioned it in my post on New Year’s Resolutions: just say yes. I began to say yes to things, to different opportunities, to invitations, and suddenly my world opened up. Instead of just planning things and never doing them, I made it my mission to just get up and do it. My friend India and I talked about going to Latitude festival. In previous years, I’d only have talked about it, ultimately being put off by the idea of not having a bath for four days, and I’d never have gone. Instead, we saved up, booked tickets, and it was one of the best things I did all year.

I made it a policy to try new things. I’d never run to fundraise before, and entering Race for Life was a fantastic experience. In previous years, it’d always been that thing that I ‘really ought to do’. It was always on my To Do list. I would say things like ‘yes, I really wanted to enter Race for Life this year, but I just didn’t get round to it’. In 2011, I got round to things. I sat down, enrolled myself (it took less than fifteen minutes), and set up a fundraising page. I found that the more I ‘just did’, the more things I wanted to do. I’d set up a precedent now, and I wasn’t going to let myself down.

The other wonderful thing I found was that one thing inevitably lead to another. Through Twitter, I found out about a fashion festival happening on the Pantiles. The woman organising it runs her own online fashion magazine, www.LadyMPresents.co.uk, and I volunteered myself to be in it. Not only did I have the insanely fun experience of walking in the fashion show, but because Lady M herself liked my (somewhat bizarre) outfits, she wanted to write a feature on me. Fast forward a month, and instead of writing a feature, she wanted me to write my own column. Then suddenly, I was going to London Fashion Week to cover some of the shows. I’m now a regular contributor, and it’s one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done. I’d always dreamt of going to London Fashion Week, but never thought I’d get the chance. While I’m on the subject, I must thank Lady M for her unbelievable support – she’s a dream editor, and she’s made this past year so special.

I also started paying attention to my strengths and weaknesses, and applied my ‘life’s too short’ philosophy countless other times. The job I thought I’d wanted turned out to be incredibly wrong for me. I left with the goal of pursuing more creative pastimes, and so it was that a few months on, I began to design and make my own jewellery. Thanks to the support of friends and the extremely helpful videos you can find on YouTube, I’ve managed to design and build my own website (also thanks to Mikey for getting me out of a sticky spot), and I’ve never been happier.

Things have continued to happen – I became an ambassador for the Teenage Cancer Trust, which you’ll be hearing a lot more about in the New Year, and I’ve just got another ‘post’ doing PR, communications and general Girl Friday-ing for a fantastic local artist. A year which started with me working in a call centre is ending a million miles away. I’m excited about life again, I’m enjoying myself, and I’ve never worked so hard in my life.

But, look. This blog isn’t about showing off about my endeavours (well, not completely, anyway.) I wanted to use my own example as a tool, to show you that you shouldn’t give up. I know I wasn’t exactly in the gutter before, but I had no idea what I wanted from life. I was just coasting by, not really engaging with anything, feeling miserable. If you saw yourself in this blog, then don’t worry. Things can and will change. Just remember the following:

  1. Don’t ignore opportunities – you never know what they could lead to.
  2. Say yes to everything
  3. …Within reason – don’t be a doormat…
  4. Be an interesting person – cultivate your own interests. The arts, sports, books. Whatever it is, tap into your interest and find a way to pursue it. In many cases, you can do that for free.
  5. Use social media – Twitter and blogging, you never know what you’ll come across.
  6. Just get out – what good is sitting along in your room? Simply getting out and doing something can work wonders.
  7. Don’t give up – if you don’t feel things are going right for you at the moment, keep going. If you have the right attitude, you can make things happen.

Thanks for reading, chaps. It’s been a pretty self-involved post, and I apologise for that. But if you get your own blog, you too can be marvellously self-obsessed.

Lots of love and a Happy New Year,

Amelia xx

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.