There’s nothing quite like Fashion Week season – or so I’ve heard. Because for years I’ve listened wide-eyed at FROW stories, tales of all-night parties, sat glued to Twitter for the latest shows – and even felt jealous of the victims of fash-week flu. But, apart from a fleeting visit to Planet Fash at university when I blagged my way into few shows as a phoney freelance journalist, I’ve never experienced it myself. That is, until now…
First off, let me tell you: it’s like nothing else you know. For those five days in the week, twice a year, London is not itself. Think, the Olympics, only more glamorous, more flamboyant - and then exaggerate it. It might well sound superficial - but when Planet Fash takes hold, oh my is it a lot of fun.
I had the pleasure of sneaking backstage at the Roksanda Ilincic show - which was an experience in itself. In the most plush basement I've ever seen at London's Savoy, more than 30 models, 20 make-up artists, 14 hair stylists and plenty more general helpers, preppers and organisers fussing over models and talking into headsets. To produce a five minute show, these people have been working for months on end - and many started work at 4am on show day to make sure everything is just right.
(FYI, I'm told even Roksanda was up at 5am - for a morning facial. Now we know the secret behind that flawless skin...)
It was frantic. But what was even more baffling was that no-one (NO-ONE, not even Roksanda who was casually watching the run-through whilst sipping her coconut water) was stressed. Apart from me, that is. Even the superman of hairstyling and Charles Worthington's Art Team Director, Marc Trinder, was unflappable despite having just two days to prepare and perfect the looks.
'Roksanda sent me her looks around a week ago,' he explained. It's 30 minutes until the show will start and mid-way through he's pulled away to attend an imminent hair crisis, but returns unfazed. 'Where was I? Yes. So then I went round to see her on Sunday with my ideas, and stayed there until we had it absolutely right. It can take hours, but once we have it - that's it.'
To fit Roksanda's vision of the collection, they decided on a wispy down do which was groomed to appear look slightly unwashed and twisted into light waves. For the look to be complete, he needed all the models to appear to have thin hair - so he created the Under Braid: a section under the crown, plaited into an 'S' shape which rids the hair of weight, before spritzing it with Charles Worthington Front Row Turn Up the Volume blow dry spray, blasting twists with the hairdryer and finishing with Front Row Mirror Dazzle Shine Spray.
I had no idea this was even possible. It looks impossibly chic.
'It hasn't all been straight-forward,' Marc explained. 'Some girls don't have enough space to work the plait into. But when it works - it looks perfect.
Five minutes to show time and I decide it's time to get out of the way and head into the ballroom, where the girls I've seen being prepped since 9.30am will showcase the latest collection. As it starts to fill up, I spot a familiar face. Anna Wintour is walked in from HER VERY OWN ENTRANCE. There's a lot of hushing and tweeting as she takes her seat on the FROW. There's a woman with a giant flower hat on who isn't Lady Gaga, and another with bright blue hair which was actually en. (I don't know how she did it either.) It's all a bit too exciting.
And finally, the models descend. Reams of them. The collection is amazing, I'm particularly taken with the oversized clutch bags and Aldo Rise shoes that I can't wait to Google. There's a roar from the press pen as a model accidentally walks the wrong way, then a louder roar as Roksanda takes her applause for the show. It's a success.
But it's just one - over the course of the five days, there are more than 80 and the fashion eds have to a huge wedge of them (poor things), plus parties. I'm exhausted by just one - but I'm invigorated too. Fashion is, by definition, superficial - but the people I met certainly weren't. In fact, in spite of the stigma they often find themselves defined by, they were lovely.
So, bring on February's Fashion Week: I can't wait to go back to Planet Fash.
To try out the Roksanda look with Marc himself, check out the Dry Blow Dry & Dry Styling Menu from £15 for 15 minutes. Marc Trinder - Art Team Director, Charles Worthington Salons, 7 Percy Street, 0207 631 1370 www.charlesworthington.com