How To Do London Fashion Week (if you’re not Anna Wintour)
London Fashion Week used to be a case of ‘if your name’s not down, you’re not coming in’ but these days the biannual round of fashion shows are a much more democratic affair. While you’re still unlikely to find yourself snuggled up front row next to the editor of French Vogue (wearing sunglasses indoors and a ‘whatever’ expression mandatory), there are plenty of other ways to get involved. With the AW17 collections being showcased in the capital from 17-21 February, Muddy’s Kerry Potter – a glossy mag journo escapee and veteran LFW attendee – has some ideas for soaking up the fashion vibes, even if your FROW ticket got (*cough*) lost in the post.
Catch the street style circus
With the rise of flamboyantly dressed street style stars, some of the most ‘fashion’ moments at LFW take place on the pavements outside, rather than on the catwalks inside. This season the main showspace has moved from Soho’s Brewer Street car park (as uninspiring as it sounds) to glossy, new venue Store Studios at 180 Strand, below (nearest tube: Temple).
Head down for a people watching opportunity extraordinaire, and gawp at the Japanese fashion photographers snapping Scandi Instagram stars in all their finery. See if you can spot any celeb front row guests – they tend to arrive late, dressed head-to-toe in the designer they’re supporting. And the grumpy, harassed ones, clad in black or navy, fighting their way through the crowds? They’re the fashion editors, trying to get their job done amid the circus.
Streams and screens
No entry? No problem. The British Fashion Council now live-streams every single show on the schedule – catch them online online at londonfashionweek.com/live or facebook.com/londonfashionweek. You’re in good company – many show attendees end up watching the shows this way from their cars, while stuck in the notorious LFW traffic gridlock.
Our picks? Topshop Unique (2pm, Sun 19 Feb) has become a must-see, not least for the A lister-heavy front row. Burberry (7.30pm, Mon 20 Feb) is always a huge talking point – this show dictates the mood of the season (if the Burberry models are wearing backpacks, six months later backpacks will be EVERYWHERE) and always has a brilliant musical guest star (Alison Moyet with a full orchestra one season).
And if you want to a cool name to drop, Simone Rocha (6pm, Sat 18 Feb) is one of the rising stars of LFW, with her feminine but playful dresses (she likes using random materials like perspex).
Also, show highlights will also be shown on various outdoor screens across London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle. In previous seasons, the screen in Soho’s Golden Square, complete with deckchairs, has proved a good spot to catch your breath.
The art of fashion
There’s a host of stylish exhibitions in London right now to whet your fashion whistle. First up, at Somerset House (until 12 March) is Hair By Sam McKnight: Transforming Fashion’s Greatest Icons. This delves into the personal memorabilia archive of McKnight, the man who’s stroked the heads (in a professional rather than creepy way) of everyone from Kate Moss to Princess Diana. It also features photography, couture gowns, wigs and films, and promises to reassess the role of hair in fashion.
The V&A has loads going on for fashion-lovers: You Say You Want A Revolution (until 26 Feb) looks at how the social and cultural changes of the late ’60s echoed down the following decade. Fashion, of course, played a huge role and exhibits include the actual uniforms The Beatles wore on the album cover of Sgt Pepper, A Biba minidress and a Mary Quant skirt suit.
There’s also an exhibition of undies which may be about pants but definitely isn’t – Undressed: A Brief History Of Underwear (until 12 March) showcases 200 pieces, from 18th century to present day, while exploring innovation and luxury in undercracker design.
Also my top tip: the V&A’s permanent fashion exhibition is a massively inspiring, tranquil place to hang out and soak up design amazingness – unlike the temporary exhibitions it’s (a) free and (b) quiet.
Finally, Molly Goddard is a young LFW hotshot, known for bonkers tulle dresses that are crying out to be worn by Grayson Perry. She’s created What I Like, a gorgeously colourful interactive exhibition at the NOW Gallery in Greenwich (until 22 Feb).
London Fashion Weekend
This used to be a bit of an afterthought to the show schedule but is now going from strength to strength each season. London Fashion Weekend takes place at The Store Studios straight after LFW, from 23-26 Feb. What started off as a simple shopping event now involves catwalk shows, trend presentations and talks from industry insiders including fashion journalists, Central St Martins lecturers and V&A curators. A whopping 150 brands are involved and tickets are from £20.
Contrary to popular belief, fashion types do actually eat – when you’re whizzing across town from 9am to 9pm, taking in 15 shows per day, sustenance is a must, as is a cheeky glass of champagne or two. However, you’re unlikely to find the great and good in the Aberdeen Steak House on Oxford Street. For a glass of Moet, the oldies are the goodies: try The Wolseley or Claridges. All-day brasserie Riding House Cafe is modern and buzzy as is the Rose Bakery at the new Haymarket premises of Dover Street Market, with its ultra hip collection of under-the-radar designers.