Saturday, February 25, 2012

A View from the Bottom

An account of London Fashion Week from an uncool, amateur fashion writer

London still holds me tightly in it's spell, an enchantment cast nearly two decades ago when I realized it existed and decided that was where I undoubtedly belonged. A short visit sealed the magic. Coming back for an event like fashion week seemed unreal, even though as a Magazine Journalism MA hoping to work for glossies it won't be the last time I try to hobble along the cobblestones of Somerset House on heels. 

That my little motley group had press passes was nothing short of a miracle and we pushed the benefits of those little squares of paper to the max. The press lounge was the best. Early mornings were a little less dreary with the promise of a yummy breakfast and the unlimited supply of Vitamin Water. It defiantly made staying at our dodgy hostel a bit less tragic. Then there was the MAC make-up session complete with goodie bag. Our little magazine was enough to get us some amazing perks. The chink in all this amazingness was that we had scored a grand total of four invites to the shows. Only one was a proper runway and another turned us down at the door. Some confusion about RSVP's. So we sucked it up and attended all the exhibitions and salon shows we were let into.

And I people watched. I'm ashamed to say I didn't take nearly as many photos as I could have. Nor are the ones I took anything spectacular. I still battle with my childhood shyness and the thought of going up to someone, especially someone I admire, to ask for a photo petrifies me. Case in point: Scott Schuman and Garance Dore. I hold them on a photographic pedestal overshadowed only by editorial photographers like Liebovitz, Testino, Demarchelier, etc. So when I spotted them walking in my general direction my brain stopped functioning. What do you do? Go up to them? Tell them how much you admire them? Would that just annoy them? So instead I gawp at them and later, when I spot them again I snapped a really bad photo. It's worth a mention no one in my group knew who they where so I was alone in my squealing worship. I gradually lost a bit of my apprehension and started asking for shots. After all to be in LFW is to be in permanent display. People dress to the nines to be seen, photographed and published in blogs and style sites to be admired around the world. It would be a disservice not to acknowledge their efforts. Personally any effort I made was hidden under my giant parka. So much respect for fashionistas who can ignore the London cold.

The presence of so many photographers was also incredibly intimidating. Everyone has a DSLR now, how can you tell the difference between pro's and rookies? I still cringe at labeling myself a photographer, mostly I feel like a girl with a decent camera. Regardless, come September, I'm going to move heaven and earth to get myself a proper photographer's pass. The pit is so alluring to me. No glamour. That's not what it's about. It's being engulfed in the sound of dozens of shutters going off at once and the momentary blindness of the flash. When the lights dim and the music starts, it's one of the best rushes I have ever felt, comparable only (but still not quite the same) to realizing you have THAT shot. 

After seeing everything our passes allowed and a very sad Sunday where there wasn't much to do at all, one of the girls walked up to a PR and asked if we could be let in after all the invite-folks were inside. Thus, we discovered the invite-less queue. Industry insiders don't seem to think much of this queue, but without it, rookies like me wouldn't be able to experience Fashion Week. I've just realized I've gone on for a while and haven't done much fashion writing. My favourite show was Sophie Hulme. It wasn't a catwalk but I was in love as soon as I stepped into the room and saw the giant T-rex cardboard model. I need one of those. Her collection was inspired by toy dinosaurs in beige and navy with pops of pink. Some of those jumpers are definitely on my must-have list for next winter.

Another favourite for the fun factor alone was the Ashish with psychedelic prints and Buddha chic aesthetic.

I loved being surrounded by creative people. Seeing beautiful clothes so close. Fashion Week is a treat for anyone who can appreciate the thought and workmanship behind every creation. Fashion is so much more than fabric and trends. It's such a personal form of self-expression. Watching everyone walking around in their best, it's having a sneak peak into their psyche.

It was a wonderful week. I miss catching the underground despite the astronomical prices. Walking along the Thames and catching glimpses of the London Eye and London Bridge. Catching up with an old school friend who kindly took me around town for drinks. Even the waiting in line in the cold was worth it. Seeing fashion editors and photographers walking around. The one jarring bit was getting hit on the head by a swinging telephoto lens. Courtesy of an old tosser who couldn't choose which side of the runway he wanted to shoot from.

I'll be back in London soon.

Really, beginning of March as a matter of fact.

all images ©Nathalie Donado

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Makeshift Studio

Ella and I are considering making these collaborations a monthly affair. The next two shoots are already in the planning and dreaming stages, but since we up the ante every time we get together, expect great things. We were meant to go down to the boat houses in Wharf Street Sheffield, but if you've seen the news this weekend, you'll know it snowed all day on Saturday, so our outdoor shoot had to be cancelled and I made my way to Ella's flat instead for some improvised studio shots. We had great fun improvising outfits, playing around with a blow-drier, and gossiping over chinese take-away. We also braved the cold outside for some snowy shots. It took me a while to edit these, getting home in the snow was a bit of a trek and I'm feeling a bit under the weather. Horrible timing, with lectures starting up tomorrow. On with the photos then!

all images ©Nathalie Donado