princess julia takes us behind the scenes and onto the catwalk at nicopanda

i-D Culture Correspondent Princess Julia took her regal place in Nicola Formichetti’s unisex collection of high school tribes: ‘The Jock, The Preps, The Punks -- and The Prom Queen’.

by Princess Julia
22 September 2017, 3:02pm

I only popped by on my way home from the gym for a little catch up with Nicola Formichetti. He was in town this London Fashion Week getting ready for his Saturday evening show at the Amazon fashion HQ in sunny Hoxton. It's all very high security round there, photo IDs and everything. Finally I'm tagged in and ushered through to the scene of Nicopanda operations. The rails of his spring/summer 18 collection are all in order and I have a quick rifle through them. "Oooh, now that's cute," I say as I pull out a pink vinyl mini coat with ruffled pockets. "Could I get away with that?" I ask, and put it on! Ha ha, that's what I'm like, you see. Nothing I like more than a rummage through some fashion rails. There was a lilac section, white section, a red section, pastel pink and fluoro. There's a bit of froth with some cascading net (I hone in on that obviously), diamanté, badges and logo emblazoned bits and bobs. Nicola tells me as part of the collab with Amazon you can order parts of this collection and get them in 24 hours! From catwalk to street walk.

Anyway, we're sitting there and it's the casting day so models are walking in and out. There's a boy with the most beyond Rod Stewart-type do. "His hair's good," I say. "What's your name?" I ask, "I'll follow you on Instagram". 'Matthew' he says as he tries on a pair of white frilly gender neutral knickers… Oh, and he's a singer too!

Nicola is very calm, I note. His assistants pull out different combinations, layering and editing until the look is right. So, Nicola turns to me and says, "Actually will you walk in the show?", "Oh yeah, course," I say. Now this isn't a thing I'm asked everyday -- I do do the odd shoot but catwalking is another thing. In these days of diversity we should all be able to get a look in, right? I'm in the special bookings dept being a woman of a certain age and, well, not really tall enough to have done much catwalking, although I have had a go in the past.

Next day and I pop by for a fitting… You see these things don't just happen. And really that's why I keep going to shows. There's something about the months of preparation that goes into creating those mere minutes of catwalk drama. My look for Nicopanda is a pink net tulle over skirt with a bit of a train. I'm layered up with fishnet armlets. Nicola asks me who first thought of using tights on other parts of the body other than the legs they're destined for. I think and I say, "Well, I could say Caryn Franklyn, or I could say Judy Blame, but actually I'm going to cite Martyn Degville from Sique Sique Sputnik, an 80s glam band". Martin wore those fishnets everywhere including his face.

In charge of makeup: Terry Barber. I'm thrilled, I'm a total fan girl. He's in today and I get an idea of what he's got planned. My look is complete, I do a test walk and ask, "Who am I?" -- by that I mean, 'what is my attitude?' because I know I might get distracted while actually on the catwalk!

Saturday 16 September, the day of the show. I was out last night at the Fiorucci X Theo Adams Company party and stayed a bit later than I envisaged as it was so good. Our call time is 3pm, I managed to feel quite perky all things considered. I grab a salad and sit down with the other models and wait to be called. Backstage is calm, there's some further beauty prepping to be done. Make-up artists are gathered for a final run through, I have a look at their sketchbooks. Sharpie type eyes, pink shadow, there's room for artistic interpretation. I'm called for my 'blowout'. There are cameras around and I'm a bit nervous about that to be honest, because I haven't got much makeup on at this point! Time for a run through… We, the models, go to the catwalk for a chat about where and when we're walking. All pretty straight forward. We line up backstage and one by one are ushered forth. It's a dash round the space. I look straight ahead with intention like it's the actual show. Bit more waiting around and I get introduced to Regan who's going to at last slather on my 'face'. He says I've got good skin, I'm flattered. I ask him to pile it on, I like a liberal coverage plus I'm djing at a fashion party later on, then the Dalston Superstore for A Man To Pet's 'Girly Party' so it's got to last. We're just finishing off the final flourishes and one of the production team comes over to tell us there's five minutes till the show. Strangely I think it's a dress rehearsal but no it's the actual show. Three hours goes fast backstage at a fashion show!

I quickly get changed and wait my turn. So, as you know, I'm the finale -- we've got a bit of time. I march out, I'm thinking I'm not going to look at the audience but when a whoop goes up I'm smiling inside and just a little bit tempted to start waving! Ha ha, that I must not do! I stride forth toward a bank of photographers (I hope I'm not pulling a face). As soon as I reach the other side of the circuit it's time to do it again for the final finalė. Nicola comes out to a cheer from our fashion faithful. It's all over before you know it. The magic of a fashion show is dismantled almost as quickly as the blink of an eye. You know, I think that's why I love a fashion show IRL so much: the energy, spectacle and vision created in those mere minutes.

Nicola Formichetti
princess julia