The Diary of a London Fashion Week Intern
London Fashion Week.
1 fridge full of Vita Coco, 2 fallen trees on train tracks, 3 break-of-dawn starts, 6 designers, 12 interns and a million invites later, it was London Fashion Week 2014.
The lead up to the event was by all means manic, but enjoyably so. As the last invites were hand delivered, we sat back and took a deep breath to prepare us for the week ahead.
Working as an intern for Dyelog, I got to experience the preparations of the calendar event of the fashion year first-hand, from behind the scenes at a PR company. Assisting with the shows of 6 emerging Asian designers – all incredibly talented – us interns were drooling over their sample clothes in the showroom for weeks before and could not wait to see the brand new designs.
I think I really hit the jackpot with Dyelog. It was a super small PR team of just 2, who really care about giving students or those with not a huge amount of experience a chance. If you’re just starting out in fashion, PR or similar industries, this is the type of company you need to search for. The likes of Vogue, Elle etc. are just so inundated with applications due to their prestigious status, it’s better to make ‘smart’ (more realistic) applications to begin. But by no means give up hope; just make Vogue your target by age 25, for instance.
So we generally arrived at the office at 11ish, took lunch or a walk when we fancied, and were always out by 5. The relaxed nature of the PR Managers by no way made any of us interns lazy. If anything, we worked harder, sort of out of respect for them being quite so lovely. I’m sure you all want to hear The-Devil-Wears-Prada-esque horror stories, but I just can’t give you ‘em. I felt I was treated as a work colleague and, despite only being paid daily expenses – I was happy to treat it as a job (aka not an unpaid internship).
Daily tasks initially included sourcing celebs and stylists to encourage sample-borrowing for public appearances, researching coverage of the designers we were working with, assisting with social media and I was even able to write up a profile for one designer to gain exposure. It wasn’t all glamorous though; the nearer it got to LFW, our tasks were purely to manage tickets. This meant checking the email, updating spreadsheets of ticket requests, packing and hand-delivering tickets. Some girls literally had to run across London for 2 days straight – in the rain – but I somehow got off pretty lucky (only doing a few in one afternoon where the sun mysteriously appeared, ha). But you know what? I didn’t care. We got a free access-all-areas pass at London Fashion Week, to watch a model casting, to gain a deeper understanding of the whirring cogs behind the glamorous world of fashion and – most importantly – an endless supply of coconut water.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, London Fashion Week was finally here! First up was Yifang Wan at 10.30, in the beautiful Freemason’s Hall catwalk space (Covent Garden). After an incredibly early start (I was commuting from good old Essex), I was about to bubble over with excitement. Assigned my position in the actual show space, it went from peaceful pre-show to absolute mania within about 5 seconds. The guests began piling in, whilst I was frantically trying to make sure no VIPs sat in the VIP seats – checking tickets like a robotic machine. The mania died down just as quickly into an anxious murmur through the crowd.
Then, it started! My first ever (‘proper’) fashion show. Yifang’s work was inspired by the “working environment of artists and sculptors where comfort and ease is the key”. The collection featured simplistic workwear, unexpected cuts and a utilitarian silhouette with a softer, more mature edge.
Post-show, we had to (almost) literally push the crowd out the doors. With the second show due to start in less than an hour, the space needed to be clear. And pronto!
After a slightly stressful panic over some missing press releases, Xiao Li, named Fashion Scout’s Merit Award Winner A/W14, began to present. Xiao Li is certainly one to watch; Fashion Scout director Martyn Roberts remarked that Xiao has had a “growing momentum behind her with leading buyers already calling to attend her Merit Award show”.
The models had uniformly pastel-pink hair and were dressed in a low-key colour palette of white, sky blue and royal blue. But it was the revolutionary use of a unique thick, flexible and stretchy plastic-type material to create whole garments (such as dungarees) that made Xiao stand out quite so much. The best way I can describe it is the same material as those ‘dress-up’ mini Polly Pockets of the 90s. The grand finale, which fashion-world heroine Susie Bubble even instagrammed (oh, the measure of success these days), was a mesmerising glow in the dark jacket. The whole crowd was sent into an absolute frenzy!
But it’s Macau-born, Vancouver-raised Steven Tai that I want to focus on to finish. You see Steven, the sneaky devil, did something quite fantastic to unveil his AW14 collection. Merging advanced technological innovation with fashion-focused storytelling, Mr. Tai created the video ‘Knock Knock’.
“A video? Sure, real original” you say? Well actually, it was a forward-thinking interactive video that broke boundaries between show and audience. Blurred lines between spectacle and spectator. With inspiration from modern video game sensors, audience members could take control of the camera as they approached different segments of the screen; the camera zooming in and increasing the intensity of experience accordingly. And the audience loved it!
The storyline was unrequited love, based in a raw, stripped back home, with the solo girl dressed, obviously, in head-to-toe Tai. His collection was on display for public perusal by the side of the screen. Structured shapes with quirky details, mostly in a monochrome palette. Voluminous, thick felt-like midi skirts and a puffed-up blackened daisy-embellished jumper were stand out pieces for me.
Post-show, the incredibly humble Steven Tai nodded his head and thanked the audience for attending. Not even a hint of Devil Wears Prada-esque behaviour there. He successfully demonstrated that doing things differently can never be a bad thing. His ‘less is more’ approach and void of thrusting his presentation upon the audience led to almost an air of exclusivity and a very satisfied unanimous murmur as the room was vacated.