I have a secret…I am an in the closet fashion lover. People seem so surprised to learn that this small-roller derby-rock-music-loving-photographer adores fashion, but I do. Mention Jimmy Choo to me and my heart will skip a beat! My wardrobe may be a disaster area, but my love of fashion is pure.
This year, I decided to embrace my love of fashion and there was only one place to start; London Fashion Week Festival 2018.
This is my journey as a fashion novice at one of the biggest fashion events in the world.
I arrived outside the festival at 9am, a freezing 4 hours before my allotted entry of 1pm, but I had a hunch that the street fashion would be a spectacular pre-show. I wasn’t wrong. The UK’s best-dressed fashion followers were there, showing that fashion is not about designers, but about expressing YOUR unique style. From bright colours and bold prints to demure outfits that expressed themselves through textures and details. I may have been freezing in the brisk February air, but this was a pre-show worth going to see.
During this time, I had been chatting to the various Security Staff on duty (they teased me over my lack of gloves) and to a gentleman who was standing next to me. He was intrigued by my childlike love of fashion and how I was running up to people asking to take their photo. After a while, he asked if I would still be there in 20 minutes. Of course, I have nowhere else to go! He smiled “Great! I’ll be back, I just need to go pick up my friends.” I shrugged and carried on not really thinking about it. 20 minutes later a Bentley pulled up and the gentleman I had been talking to was in the front seat. He waved me over. “This is my friend Marina, she’s a model from Brazil, I thought you’d like to take her photo, I’ve already asked she said it was fine.” I was stunned. Marina Cesco is not only beautiful, but incredibly sweet. I took the photos as quickly as I could, I was too in shock and didn’t have the heart to spend ages making her pose in the cold. After a few photos they went into the show and I waved goodbye to my new friends.
There was no one on the street, everyone else had gone inside and it was too early for the next allocated entry, my entry. My lack of London knowledge plagued me, I didn’t know what was near to go spend an hour or so in the warm and I didn’t want to miss a minute of the festival. I struck up my courage and walked up to the Security Guard who had been teasing me earlier. “I know you’re going to say no and tell me to hide in a coffee shop and I know I’m horribly early and I know it’s against the rules, but is there the tiniest chance I could sneak in early?” I was already preparing my most sincere apology as he looked at me. “Well Red [my hair is currently bright postbox-red] I can’t have your skin turning blue, it wouldn’t look right in a fashion show.” He reached for the rope and opened it “Besides, you’ve been a sweetie all morning, I’ve seen you talking to everyone”. I could have kissed him.
I was in! I was in hours before I should have been in! I was at London Fashion Week! I almost ran around, I was ecstatic! The clothes, the jewellery, the handbags, the celebrity encounters…
…the shoes. There, in the perfect shade of buttercup yellow, they stood beautifully on the table, their siren call ringing in my ears, was a pair of Jimmy Choo Kaye 100 sandals. I reached for them, gently touching the suede and my heart skipped a beat. You don’t need, you neeeeeed them. They will go with everything you own. Your feet deserve to be happy. “Mmmmm do you have these in a size 6?” I heard myself saying. The shop assistant smiled at me. “Every woman does need a pair and you strike me as someone who would love to wear yellow shoes.” He looked at his inventory, then tried to give me a comforting smile. “I’m afraid we don’t have them in your size.” I almost cried as my credit card breathed a sigh of relief.
As well as shops, hairdressers, nail parlours, a masseuse, a champagne bar, there was one thing I wasn’t expecting. A talk called “RIVER ISLAND: WHO RUN THE WORLD…” described as ‘an open, honest discussion about the stresses and successes of women going it alone in business’ it jumped out to me. I’m a businesswoman! I run my own photography business!
Hosted by Bhillie Bhatia – Stylist Magazine , featuring Sapphire Bates – The Coven Girl Gang , Mercedes Benson – Marketeers, Social Influencer & DJ and Charlie Craggs – Trans Activist and author. Each speaker discussed the ups and downs of starting their own businesses, how to manifest your goals and the importance of a positive mental attitude. I left the talk buzzing, inspired by such amazing strong woman.
Next was time for the Nicopanda catwalk show. Launched in 2015, Nicopanda blends sportswear with high-end looks and has worked with celebs like Jorja Smith, Cardi B and Dua Lipa. I joined the queue for the show, clutching my ticket waiting for the doors to open. A Security Guard walked passed and stared at me “Hey Red,” I smiled nervously “are you by yourself?” I felt the people in the queue around me take a step back, no one wanted to be associated with the woman being questioned by security. I nodded. “Come with me.” I felt everyone’s eyes on me as I was escorted out the queue. What had I done? Did he know I had got in early? Was he going to throw me out? I followed him as we walked the length of the queue – to the front. He opened the rope and ushered me in. “Were you outside earlier? Figured you’d want a good spot and there’s room for one more, how’s this?” He pointed to a seat at the end of the runway, the infamous photographer’s pit is where you see all the photographers snapping as the models strike their poses, I was being seated there. I took my seat grinning from ear to ear. The show was amazing! The view was unforgettable.
The story would normally end there, however, the fashion Gods had even more in store.
I left the festival on a high, grinning from ear to ear, but starving! I had been awake since 4:30am, it was now 4pm and I had only had coffee. I found a Vietnamese restaurant and was seated by the window. I ordered and went to check my phone; dead. I felt a surge of panic. I’ve already mentioned my lack of London knowledge, my coach home wasn’t until late and being alone without my phone in a city I really should know better, terrified me. I decided to focus on positive thinking and manifesting my dreams as they have been discussing at the Talk earlier. I sipped my tea and watched the world go by. The waiter seated a gentleman next to me, the only empty seat in the restaurant. He ordered his food and started playing with his phone.
“You’re not Instagramming your food are you?” I teased. He laughed and asked why I was the only person without their phone, I explained my dilemma. Without hesitation, he looked up the nearest Samsung store and gave me directions so I could get a new charger. We chatted away happily, but I couldn’t help but think he look familiar. “Have we met before?” I was exhausted, my brain was refusing to work and I couldn’t place his face. “Yeah, I get that a lot.” he smiled. We continued chatting, but I couldn’t think where I knew him from.
“You’re not the next 007 are you?”
“No, but I did just get back from filming something for Netflix.”
“So you’re an actor?”
“I’m also model.”
He wasn’t giving anything away.
I finished my meal, thanked him for the directions and for being great company. “No problem! I’ll follow you on Instagram, I’m always looking for photographers.”
Armed with my new charger, I settled into the nearest Starbucks and plugged my phone in whilst I enjoyed yet another coffee. My Instagram bleeped “new follower”, it was my lunch buddy, Marek Lichtenberg international model and actor.
The full gallery from Emily’s adventures at London Fashion Week Festival is available here.