Shiny Happy Fashion Week People
Seeing as we’re in the thick of fashion week right now, I thought I’d wax lyrical about just that and pull out a few new wardrobe additions while at it.
Fashion week is a funny old thing. I’ve had so many highs and lows over the years at this biannual get together, but now feel like I’ve reached a happy place with the weird but wonderful thing that fashion week is. When I first started working in the industry 7 years ago and I first got to attend fashion week as part of my job as a fashion assistant, it was an exhilarating, amazing time in the industry. Street style was in its infancy, instagram wasn’t even a seedling of an idea and the majority of people still carried blackberries. Fashion Week was still an industry-centric event that felt exciting in an elitist way to be invited into. I was with a magazine back then so there were cars, tickets galore, cocktail parties and new friends to be made, and seeing as I was 23, I had the stamina to do it, surviving on popcorn, croissants, vitamin water and champagne for the whole week. I made some amazing friends and contacts back in those first few seasons that I still have today, including my brilliant photographer Frances. When someone took your picture you’d have a chat while at it and there were handfuls of photographers on the street rather than hundreds. I owned one second-hand designer bag, lived in my vintage fedora (mainly because I was obsessed with Erin Wasson at the time) and I’ve never had worse blisters and sorer feet. It felt fun and hectic and free from all expectation all at once.
After that initial hay day year, I moved jobs and went into editorial for a trend forecasting agency. I liked the job, loved the people and stayed there for three years before I got to the point with my blog that allowed me to take it full-time. But fashion week was a very different beast when I was in that job. I was suddenly on the periphery of the industry, wasn’t working with PRs and brands on a daily basis and as such the shows weren’t such a priority for me work-wise. Without a big team to roll around fashion week with, I found it kind of lonely and it sort of lost it’s sparkle for me. I kept going and still got a thrill out of seeing the odd great show, but it felt different and despite being in my mid-twenties, somehow being by myself at fashion week made me feel self-conscious in a way that was akin to being a teenager thrown into a party where you know no-one.
Once I left that job and became self-employed, I felt like I had to start again with fashion week and now it wasn’t technically ‘part of my job’, as in no boss was telling me to go, I had to reassess what fashion week was going to be for me. It took a while to adjust from feeling like I had to be at pretty much every show on-schedule and several off-schedule, to realising fashion week doesn’t have to be non-stop, crazy-busy to be deemed a success. I occasionally questioned if I ‘needed’ to do fashion week at all, but then I realised that ultimately I wanted to. I wanted to see the new collections and support the brands who support me in various ways throughout the years and be a part of the institution that is fashion week. But I’d be lying if I said fashion week didn’t sometimes bring out the worst in me and others in the past too. Despite working hard and feeling happy in my own skin all year, I’d get to fashion week and feel like I’d failed because I didn’t have a certain sought-after ticket or felt stupid in what I was wearing (probably because I’d over thought it). That side of fashion week I really hated, more because I hated it brought out an ugly ‘high-school’ feeling in me. Everyone was out-busying each other and I often felt like I was the only one who wasn’t doing dozens of projects or being dressed by every top-notch brand. By this point, street style was such a huge thing too and I didn’t like what it was doing to me. I hated that the thought of hundreds of photographers made me quake in my boots and stall in terms of getting dressed, and worst of all, it affected my confidence if no-one took my picture. It grosses me out so much to say that but it’s true and I feel like it’s important to be honest. I felt a real pressure in that arena but equally knew I wasn’t that girl that could comfortably wait around to be photographed and felt like a fraud if I dressed up in something I wouldn’t normally wear. And none of that’s taking away from the street style photographers themselves, who are brilliant at what they do. People like Vanessa Jackman and Tommy Ton not only helped path the creative road for bloggers everywhere, they also really helped grow the audience on my blog back in the day thanks to their amazing photos. I loved seeing the new collections but hated how fashion week was beginning to drain me rather than filling me up. I started to feel like I’d rather trawl the shows on Style.com that was, rather than keep up with attending the shows in person and leave feeling like crap, but equally the thought of skipping fashion week gave me huge anxiety and fomo. Another thing that made me feel kind of queasy.
Now, I’ve finally found my happy place with fashion week. Maybe it’s something to do with feeling more comfortable in what I do and who I am, both personally and professionally, but I feel like I’ve got my mojo back with fashion week. I missed London fashion week altogether last season, the first time in 8 years, in favour of an amazing trip to Kenya. That in itself really helped as it made me realise once and for all that fashion week is a choice for me, and knowing that somehow takes all anxiety out of the equation. So this season I’m back at it feeling re-excited about my hometown’s crop of talent and all the familiar faces I get to see along the way. I’ve realised I can combine the shows with catch-ups with friends and colleagues, or if I’m in New York, I can pop to a gallery or a store between shows and leave feeling inspired without feeling guilty. Nowadays, I’m at home writing or editing after a day of shows, or even better disappearing into the cinema, rather than propping up a bar at a party. I go to a good handful of shows a day, all of which I look forward to, which is perfect for me and I’m comfortable in the knowledge that I don’t need or want to go to every show to feel fulfilled or successful. I wear what I love, get dressed for me alone and understand that the work I do behind closed doors is just as important as being out and about at fashion week which actually makes me enjoy fashion week even more. I love that fashion week is more inclusive than ever and with Insta Stories and shoppable runways, it’s a much more of an open thing than it used to be which makes the over-sharer in me feel at home. Fashion week is more of a part of my job than ever before and yet feels fun again too. Ultimately I like that I’m now at a place where fashion week feels like the cherry on top rather than the whole cake, which is exactly how it should be for me right now.
Ph. by Frances Davison