Adventures at London Fashion Week – Charlotte Thomas
I’ve worked in fashion for over 7 years and this was the first year I decided to go to London Fashion Week solo. Having been to many menswear shows, this year I decided to focus on the ladies.
A selection of those dressed to impress…
Considering the devastating weather we’d been having in the UK , I was very lucky as this particular day felt like early Summer. I arrived at Somerset House at 10am and the fashion squad was out in full force for Margaret Howell, one of my favourite designers.
It wasn’t quite what I was expecting. I was a little worried I wouldn’t be able to get in and be a part of the event, but the show was very much open to the public or indeed to anyone with a camera. The event was sponsored by Canon and you couldn’t move for the sheer amount of photographers taking over the grounds, myself included.
The buzz was like nothing I had ever felt.
Through the archway into the grounds barriers were set up for future fashion icons to walk through like their very own catwalk. As someone was dressed to impress walked through, all us photographers went crazy, pushing and shouting at these poor people just to get that all important shot.
At first it felt a little daunting and invasive but after an hour or so I got right into it and eventually made some new contacts and friends from the experience.
I was there till 1pm in the afternoon drinking too many coffees and smoking (after 2 years of not smoking) way too many cigarettes given to me by new photographer acquaintances. We sat down outside Somerset House by the waterfront and prepared to walk over to Tate Modern for what I can only describe as a life changing experience.
Topshop Unique show, the biggest show in the London Fashion Week calendar was due to start at 3pm.
I arrived around 2pm casually walking around figuring out where would be the best place to set up to take photos of the fashion icons and celebrities who would be attending the show. The show was to take place in the Turbine Hall – Tate Modern with the huge long ramp leading up to the gateway into one of the most highly guarded and private shows of the weekend.
The amount of security guards and Topshop PR surrounding the perimeter was intimidating but from the corner of my eye I saw an opportunity.
I don’t know what came over me but I looked at the long line of World Press Photographers sitting waiting to be directed into the Press space which sits directly in front of the catwalk. I thought if I could pretend I was world press I would get in -
“No Charlotte! Don’t be silly you only have a small camera, they wouldn’t take you seriously.”
I felt inferior as these guys had the largest camera lenses I had ever seen.
Anyway if I want something I’ll always try, so with a huge smile I walked over to the security guard saying,
“Hi there, I’m with that guy over there…I’m the writer for the New York New Times”.
There is no way he is going to buy this.
My heart was racing but to my amazement he let me through.
“Bloody hell, I’m in. What do I do now? No pass, no wrist band to get through the gateway to the show?”
I needed to think quick, so I got chatting to the guys, all theses paps were men, there wasn’t one woman to be seen.
I got chatting to New York Times, Vogue, Elle, GQ, Esquire and of course Scott Schuman – The Sartorialist. I have no idea what came over me but I just acted like I was supposed to be there, agreeing with some of issues they were finding with the weekend, equipment problems during shooting, the costs of getting here and also some of the what can only be described as ‘dreams’, shoots of some of the most famous people in the world they had done recently. At this point I started to panic, they were sure to catch on in a minute and realise I was a nobody and get me chucked out, which would be rather embarrassing.
Then a French photographer named Erol, came up to me.
“Topshop! Always keep us waiting, I want to get my spot.”
“Typical Topshop love the build up.” I replied.
We got chatting about what he did and about which celebrities we were hoping might turn up. I learned that if they get a solid image of say Kate Moss that image could pay their rent for 3 months. I’m in the wrong career.
Erol asked me where my Press Pass and band were, I panicked but was honest explaining I’d snuck in and was desperate to experience this.
All the photographers turned round and said to my amazement,
“That’s how it all starts, we’re very impressed, there’s a pap in you yet!”
Erol said to pretend to be his writer, and he’d get me in.
2.30pm arrived and we were asked to make our way through to the space and to the catwalk.
Heart in my mouth, I was thinking Topshop Press are no way going to believe Erol, but they did, and I walked with my tiny Canon EOS 1100, into a sardine can. It was one mad rush for these guys, they all had an allocated square probably 50cm by 50cm wide, enough room for a stool or a set of small step ladders. The squares were set out with masking tape, marked with what publication they were from. Trying to fit in and not get caught I proceeded to help everyone get set up.
I was shocked by how hungry these guys were, it was like they hadn’t eaten for days. They took it in turns to sneak round the back to steal all the models food, coming back with rucksacks full of sandwiches and crisps, “You don’t know when you’re next going to eat.”
Hot, crammed in, balancing on one leg, lenses to lenses the guests start poring in.
Anna Wintour, Sir Philip Green, Kate Moss, Daisy Lowe, Ellie Goulding, and many more.
The show begins, having never experienced this before I was just snapping away hoping for the best. The show only lasted 5 mins, but felt like a lifetime due to the overwhelming feeling of enjoyment and pride at getting into the show.
The show ended and Anna Wintour was the first person to be escorted out, I jumped over the photographers at the front and proceeded to run for my life up the ramp to get a shot of her, and I did.
Outside the venue, there was a sea of photographers, celebrities, fashion editors and me.
I snapped away for half an hour trying to get as many shots as I could, only to be stopped by my favourite photographer Adam Katz Sinding from Le21eme.com and Scott Schuman – The Sartorialist congratulating me on my determination into getting into an invite only show.
I tried to keep my cool but I had just met my heroes! Inside I was screaming like a small girl who had just met One Direction!
I’ve been home a week now.
Erol has said I can go with him next time to all the shows as his pretend writer.
Charlotte is Owner and Editor In Chief of itsjustpeople.com, a successful blog featuring cutting edge fashion blogs from around the world.