London Fashion Week is, without a doubt, one of the most anticipated and revered events in the fashion calendar. After several days of intense reporting, scouring photo albums of the latest designs and subsequently pining after items I would dream of affording, the event that I had been waiting for arrived in style; the Vodafone London Fashion Weekend.
Whilst LFW caters to the mass of the industry itself, London Fashion Weekend is a little slice of heaven for those who still remain with their palms pressed firmly against the glass, on the wrong side of the shop window. As soon as the last collection has been showcased to the industry’s elite, Somerset House is transformed into a 4-day designer-shopping emporium, with slashed prices, celebrity guests and catwalk shows to cater to the retail masses such as myself; equally as hungry for the latest trends as any other journalist. After much consideration, I treated myself to a VIP Platinum Package ticket, gaining me unlimited access to the event, a front-row seat for the catwalk show, entry to the sponsored Chambord Lounge and entry to all talks and seminars offered by fellow fashion journalists and designers. Whilst my bank account screamed in protest, I made a promise to myself to prioritize reporting over shopping and to use my time wisely to explore as much as I could of the LFW finale.
So there I was at Somerset House; bright eyed, bushy tailed and dressed to kill at 10am on a Saturday morning. As soon as the gates opened, the VIP group were led to the centre square of Somerset House, where we were let into the Chambord VIP Lounge; my ‘base camp’ for the day. Plush pink sofas and squashy purple arm-chairs with matching coloured tulips greeted me, adorned with complimentary champagne and, I’ll admit, luxurious excuses for ‘nibbles’. Keen to make the most of my time and unlimited access to the event, I stayed a while to enjoy the food & drink and chat to my fellow fashionista’s before slipping out of the lounge and heading to my most anticipated seminar.
Hilary Alexander, fashion journalist and fashion director for The Daily Telegraph resided in the Vodafone Lounge to give a seminar on her ‘Top Ten SS12 Wardrobe Essentials’. Being my overly eager self, I arrived early and sat in what I concluded to be the best seat in the room. What struck me was how genuine Alexander was. Whilst I avoid stereotyping those in the fashion industry, I couldn’t stop my surprise at how relaxed she was in a close-knit seminar. Discussing a range of pieces on the clothing rack, she went through irresistible trends from African prints and pastel colours to the unwavering popularity of Sport’s Luxe. What stood out most was her insistence at how the concept of ‘what-is-in-what-is-out died years ago in fashion’ and remained insistent in that ‘nothing is ever really out anymore’ because of our ability to travel and the diverse taste of British Fashion’. Toward the end, I stuck up my own hand and asked her what her favourite trends for Spring/Summer were. She was delighted, proclaiming ‘you know what? I’m torn – no one has ever really asked me that’. In the end she decided on floral and tribal prints for this season, with the popular pastel colours to match. I left the seminar feeling educated and informed for the season ahead and marched back to the lounge for the all-important catwalk.
Back in the VIP lounge, we were let into the catwalk arena last to take our front-row seats. The show was divided up into several presentations of current trends, with intervals of video messages from companies who had sponsored London Fashion Weekend such as Tony & Guy, Elle UK and Elizabeth Arden. Opening the show was Holly Fulton and her collection that would ‘ready a girl for Vegas’. Consisting of bright colours and graphic prints, the Aztec patterns were irresistible and were voted firm favourites for most of the reporters. The dresses were short and the body-suits were even shorter, trimmed with beads and feathers but with sweet bolero jackets thrown over to keep the upper body covered. Prim Rose offered quite a contrast of modest dressing, staying true to the ‘oh-so-pretty’ innocence that so many houses are appealing to this season. Lace dresses and soft-blouses with plenty of floral make up the body of the designs, collars topping off everything with undeniable sophistication. Also to be noted is the ever-persistent ‘Sports-Luxe’ collection presented by AntiPodium, particularly in light of the upcoming Olympics. Metallic and fluorescent colours were emblazed across short-cut sports-wear before Jasper Conran closed the show with a collection of abstract-cut dresses.
I finished the day with a round of all the different pop-up shops in the different wings of Somerset House. Subsequently, I was blown away at the variety of designers that had accumulated from different ends of the fashion spectrum, not to mention the numerous vintage labels and the well-stocked jewellery tent. Dolce & Gabbana shared a room with Richard Nicole whilst Valentino snuggled up next to American Apparel like one big happy family of discounted treasures. Never before has such discipline been exercised when walking away from a discounted Sass & Bide dress and ignoring the Lotus of London clutch bags; something I both regret but also pride myself on. Despite obvious bargains, I’m still a student and my personal preferences must steer away from impulsive purchases.
As the weekend drew to a close, I left Somerset House, clutching my overflowing goody bag and thoroughly satisfied. Whilst London Fashion Weekend serves those who are new to the industry as a welcoming hand into this world, it also generously caters to the experienced and more loyal followers of fashion; providing the perfect balance between style-induced adrenaline and an enjoyable shopping experience.