Why I'm Blowing Off Fashion Week
I really like Fashion Week. I look forward to it every season and make a big deal out of doing my ticket requests, something other editors often dislike. I plan my outfits (although not too carefully - looking like you've tried too hard is against everything I believe in) and lay out my day to make room for as many shows and events as I can. So how come I'm boycotting LFW this year?
Fashion Scout is London Fashion Week event that showcases emerging designers at Freemason's Hall in Holborn, east London. It's a truly exciting weekend of creativity and beautiful, experimental fashion. I go every season, and I have since I moved to London. I've been to the "official" LFW shows and Fashion Scout is actually more fun. The designs are more outrageous, the hair and makeup more interesting and I always discover new music from the soundtracks. It's a really cool event, and I've always appreciated it very much.
Two seasons ago I took a friend to the Pam Hogg show on the Sunday evening during LFW. It was freezing and raining. When we got there, there was a long queue outside - despite ample space indoors - so we went to get a cup of tea at Caffe Nero nearby. Thirty minutes later, the queue was still there, so we went to the back. The icy rain was pouring and it was getting colder by the minute. I was a bit ashamed to have brought my friend to an event where a five-minute fashion show seemed to warrant hours of standing in the rain. When we were finally let in, we were squashed in with a crowd that felt like the Northern Line at 8.30am and could barely see the clothes, let alone take a picture. I apologised profusely to my friend afterwards.
Yesterday, I showed up at Freemason's Hall again, armed with my invitations, my (broken) umbrella and some fresh hope. But as I saw queues lining up on both sides of the entrance, that hope quickly evaporated. As I stood in the drizzle, I noticed the people around me: students, or at least people much younger than me. Most of them wore intricate, difficult dresses with structural coats and skyscraper heels, while I was standing there in my faux-leather trousers, Kurt Cobain t-shirt and black Converse. They seemed to not even be bothered by the fact that they were made to stand and watch goosebumps form on their pale legs (tights are sooo not 'fashion') while a small clique of clipboard-wielders seated people who were apparently more important. I felt like I was in the wrong place, at the wrong time.
I remember when I was a starry-eyed fashion student who couldn't believe that she could even get into Milan Fashion Week. Before my first-ever show (Missoni), I was staring at celebrities, models and Anna Wintour like a kid in a magical candy shop with dancing unicorns. But many shows, backstage Champagne sips and supermodel bump-ins at the toilets later, I am simply not that person who is so grateful to be invited to a fashion show that they'll happily let London weather ruin their hair and shoes. And not to sound like a snob, but Fashion Scout is home to mainly unknown designers. It's not like we're freezing for Ferragamo here.
So I got out of the queue, and I went to have a cup of coffee instead. And today, I stayed in my PJs rather than go back. I felt that staying home and working on my project was more gratifying than spending hours in the February chill waiting for other people to showcase theirs. Not because I'm not curious. Not because I don't care about young designers anymore. Not because I don't want to be part of it. But because it's not fair to treat your audience like they have to earn the right to see your show. The official showcases do have a long wait too - but making people wait outdoors for close to an hour, when you're in a hall where indoor space abounds, seems condescending, belittling and like you don't care about the people whom you invite to your show. And what makes me angry is that fashion students and other wide-eyed 'fans' will continue to patiently line up and brave the rain, season after season. And then they say that the Star Wars fans sleeping in tents for tickets are crazy.
I think it's time that people in the fashion industry start standing up for themselves a bit more. You shouldn't work for free, even if the label 'intern' is slapped on what is essentially slave labour. You shouldn't leave the office, the set, or your boss' house at 10pm. You shouldn't blog for brands for 'exposure'. And you sure as hell shouldn't stand outside in the rain waiting for a fashion show. Go home and work on whatever will bring you closer to hosting your own fashion show instead. You won't regret it.
Photo by David Camilli
Filed Under: thoughts