So how does a fashion blog run during fashion week? Well, it ain't easy. I'll tell you that much. When UGG approached me and asked to work with me over 24 hours for London Fashion Week, it didn't take long for me to think that perhaps one of the best ways in which to work together would be for me to put to bed any misconceptions about the leisurely life of a fashion week goer. It is anything but leisurely. It's a whirlwind. It's pure insanity. But you know what, I love every single solitary second of it and I must pinch my arm fifty times a day to remind myself that this isn't all just a dream. So, here's my story of twenty four hours in the life of Fashion Foie Gras at London Fashion Week (keeping in mind that this is a life that is lead for sometimes four weeks back to back from New York to Paris).
At 6:15 my alarm sounds. It's time to start the day. I'm expecting a delivery at 6:30 from a PR who tried to deliver the night before and is sending an intern to delivery an item of clothing before I leave the house. Interns, I salute you and your level of commitment to your brands! I hit the snooze button twice. I have had a total of 45 minutes sleep. That's actually more a cat nap than a sleep, right? I had eight shows to review the day before and I wasn't going to sleep until each and every piece of copy had been written. You can't let these things build up on you or you'll feel as if you're stuck under a mountain when you start your next city's fashion week. So, with 45 minutes sleep and two snooze buttons pressed, my door bell rings. This is the "alarm" that finally gets me out of bed. Delivery done and now it's time to get ready for the day ahead. A car is arriving to pick me up at 9:15. I shower and, this might be TMI, nearly doze off in the bath. I can see the headline now, "Fashion Blogger drowns in oversized bathtub, no heels, no handbags at dawn. She was just tired."
Shower, blow-dry and make-up complete (small hint here: do makeup and then sit in your shower room for ten minutes…the steam sets your makeup for the day and also gives you a youthful glow), I head into the closet. I've decided this season that black is my best friend. There are so many statements being made at the tents that I seriously don't bother with the hoopla anymore. Black trousers, black boatneck and black flats (yes, flats), topped off with a black knee length rabbit fur coat. I'm in no mood to stick out in this crowd. Although that would be tough to do as sticking out with this bunch would mean basically running through the courtyard naked with the word "statement" written across my stomach in red letters.
At 9:15 on the dot, I'm in my car speeding towards Bishopsgate where my first show will start at 10am. While in the car, I have my laptop open for the duration of the 45 minute journey from Kensington to The City. I'm catching up on emails (I had 1,500 yesterday) and barely manage to make a dent in the short time I have with minimal distractions, unless of course you count the distractions that are twitter and instagram. I would like to both hug and hurt the people responsible for social media. I am incapable of existing for more than 15 minutes without checking in with each program. Being constantly "dialed in" is both a curse and a blessing.
Antonio Berardi is my first show of the day. It's on the 11th floor of a city building and it has a cold and industrial feel. My seat has an unobstructed few of the London Eye and the River Thames where I find myself daydreaming for a few moments as we wait for the show to start. This is a "pinch me" moment. The next fifteen pinch me moments happen as the models take to the catwalk and Antonio Berardi sweeps me away from everything around me as I become lost entirely in the beauty of his garments. Every minute of sleep lost, emails answered and not answered, early deliveries and late meetings are instantly worth it. I get to call this my day job. Seriously, this is what I do for a living? The show concludes with three Oscar-worthy gowns and I quickly try to jump ship after Berardi takes his bow. The only problem there is of course that every person is in as much of a hurry as the next. We all cram together into elevators that drop you down to ground floor in seconds. I'm stuffed into a lift with three of the most respected editors in the country. I say nothing but definitely feel in awe of their presence. These are the power players in our industry, yet they are discussing whether to hit Starbucks or Caffe Nero before the next show.
I choose Starbucks. I have 45 minutes before my next show stars, a fifteen minute drive from the current venue. I pop into Starbucks and grab a coffee for myself and my driver. I run him out his coffee and dash back into the shop to make use of the free wifi and electrical outlet. I log in, power up and try to edit as many pictures from the first show as possible. Simultaneously, I am uploading images to twitter and instagram for both Fashion Foie Gras and @UGGuk. My mind feels as if it's running at a hundred miles an hour and my body is definitely sprinting to try and catch up.
After my coffee refuel, one of many that will occur throughout the day, we drive off to Christopher Kane, which is also taking place in the city. Upon arrival we are held in a sort of journalist pen, presumably waiting for the final run-through (aka rehearsal of the show) to finish. Again, we are herded into lifts and taken up to the eighth floor for the show. Only this time our lift adventure was not without incident. Our lift gets stuck on the sixth floor and the doors do not open. One journalist in the back of the lift shouts rather loudly, "I have to get out of here" just before the lift starts to move. You see, during fashion week we are all a bit more on edge than usual. This poor gentleman looked like he was definitely at cracking point so I am incredibly thankful that the lift decided to cooperate. When the doors finally open on the eighth floor we all pile out and head in different directions to find our seats. This is one of the longest catwalks I have ever seen. It stretches out and turns in a complete square. I can only imagine how many people were in attendance, however, the seating allows for only two rows on the catwalk so the experience is an intimate one for every one of us involved.
As I sit waiting for the show to start, it seems I have the best seat in the house for celeb arrivals spotting. From the time I sit down to a few moments before the show starts, I watch as Anna Wintour, Salma Hayek, Donatella Versace and many more are personally escorted to their seats from what appeared to be a secret entrance. The lights come up as the first model takes to the catwalk and I am snapping away and cataloguing in my mind which images will be best for twitter, instagram, Facebook or the blog. With no free hands for writing notes I attach mental notes to every image snapped. "Interesting combo of fur and camo," "are these graphics representative of Kane's own headache in creating this collection," "remember to feature that oversized overcoat on Outfit du jour with skinny jeans and statement heels." All of these thoughts are running through my mind and I'm just hoping my foggy head won't lose any important information between the show and the laptop.
The rest of the afternoon is a blur of meetings and interviews. I'm mid bite into a sandwich, the first time I've had a chance to eat all day, and I get an alarm on my phone that I had set specially for this moment. Burberry starts in thirty minutes. While it is the commonly heralded as the biggest show at London Fashion Week, I always somehow manage to forget it's the big day and arrive late. This year all that will change… or so I thought. I flew out of my lunch and into a cab nearby and off I go. Then we get to Hyde Park where traffic is at a standstill. There is no way we are moving and I pray to the fashion gods that somehow the cars will clear and we'll fly straight through to the Burberry tent erected specially just for this day. No such luck. We creep along and I watch as minutes pass with no great sprints forward. Along the way I spot a dear dear friend also hurrying to the tents, I have my cabbie honk his horn and we swing open the doors to let her into the cab. From there things start to move a bit quicker.
Finally we arrive at the tent and the Burberry PRs are politely but sternly screaming at us to move our tushes. We are late and Burberry waits for no man, or woman. This is a live stream situation and they need to start on time. We rush in and jump into our seats. As the first catwalk model walks the long and perfectly formed Burberry runway, the sun starts to set over the back of the tent. Another "pinch me" moment. Paloma Faith finishes over the loud speakers and the walls at the far end of the runway open to reveal a small orchestra and a live musician sitting as his piano. This is a first at Burberry show and it leaves a lasting impression. I'll still be humming this tune a week later. The show is breathtakingly gorgeous. From the hearts to the leopard prints (see review), this is a show to remember and a moment to hold dear for the foreseeable future.
My day at the tents is nearly over and on my schedule I have only one more show. I attend said show, take in the glorious fashion presented and am ready to get home to write up my reviews for the day, then I am approached by a PR who asks me if I am going to show X and Y this evening. "No," I reply. "I didn't get tickets for these shows." The PR's face becomes one of great dismay. She has been let down by her team. No tickets were sent, no seats allocated. I tell her it's no big deal and in truth I am thankful for an evening to write so that I can actually get some sleep. On that note, I leave and head out with a friend towards Covent Garden. I say my goodbyes at the station and wish her luck (she's headed to the Academy Awards this week), and I mosey on down Long Acre relaxing as I take in some shop windows. My phone rings and it's the PR I ran into in the tents. She's managed to slip in two front row seats for the shows that evening. My feet move as fast as feet will move after twelve hours of running between shows and I manage to make it to both catwalks without a problem.
At 10pm I grab my car home. Shoes are slipped off and I slide down into the seat, allowing myself to doze off. It isn't hard to do at this point. I tell the driver I'm going to hit the hay for the duration and kindly ask for him to wake me when I get to my house. We hit a bump and instantly I am bolted awake, having only really been out for a few moments. The bump jerks me back in the reality of the situation. I can't sleep. I have work to do. The rest of the ride home I'm on my laptop typing up the notes for the shows.
Home for London fashion week is definitely my safe haven and the couch is my best friend. There are no desks for working during this week. I'm always to be found curled up in a mountain of pillows where I am editing and re-editing pictures and texts for reviews. It might not be the best protection for my back but it's a ritual now and it makes the long nights a little easier.
At 4am I finally finish my last piece of runway reporting. I haven't had a chance to look at any fashion news, let alone world news, throughout the day. Anything could have happened on the planet and I'd be completely in the dark while images of multicolored hair and metallic garments run through my head after a day of fashion finery.
The circus of London Fashion Week starts again in three hours. See what I mean by fabulous but exhausting? It's not an easy day but it is one which most of us are eternally grateful to be a part of and I don't see that ever changing in the future. Bring on September 2013. I'm ready for you.