The five people you’ll meet this fashion month
From stylish seniors to shameless freebie moochers, prepare to get cozy with these characters over the next few weeks.
It’s news to no-one that fashion month’s glitzy veneer is a bit of a scam. Well, it is for most at least. For a select few, it’s but a couple weeks of being shuttled from show to show in sponsored Mercedes-Benz towncars, the greatest stress they might endure being a neck strained from air-kissing. For the rest of us, it’s weeks on end of running around like headless chickens, sacrificing sleep to meet impossible deadlines, and trying to look like our strained necks are the result of air-kissing, not sub-editing on the bus on an iPhone with a malfunctioning screen. Chic, n’est-ce pas? Anyway, don’t feel sorry for yourself, you’re not the only one to suffer. As we gear up for fashion month’s official kick-off, here’s a cursory introduction to some of the characters slogging it along with you.
The downtrodden PR
After much milling around, swilling down free cups of coffee that tastes like it was brewed with used grounds and fag ash, the doors to the runway are finally opened. You shuffle towards the banks of seats, clouded by a fatigue that the cigarette-brew couldn’t quite shake. The only thing that does is a shrill “Good Morning!” from a figure wielding a headset and clipboard as if they were a sword and shield. You’re almost envious of their ability to carry out their job shepherding fashion eccentrics to their seats with such a broad grin. But, as the bags under their eyes tell, earned waking up at 5am to reshuffle the entire seating plan around a barrage of last minute confirmations, the life of the poor PR isn’t as glitzy as it might seem. After kindly shepherding you to your 3rd row seat in Block A, you see that chipper countenance momentarily drop on noticing that some Brüno-esque tween vloggers have shamelessly hopped forward to the frow, the curtain’s rise mere minutes away. A deep inhale and their cheery guard re-raised, they issue a rehearsed-yet-courteous “Hi guys, I’m really sorry, but these seats are actually reserved. Would you mind if I reseated you just a row?” They are met with an audible gasp and a venomous “Wie bitte?! Do you have any idea who we are??” And just as they’re scrambling to neatly package a response, the lights go down and there’s little our poor PR can do.
Looking to the left, your gaze is drawn to an impossibly chic pair visibly distressed by the drama unfolding next to them. “I haven’t witnessed behaviour like this since Perry Ellis SS93!” they hiss to their neighbour, bemoaning the entitlement of the Insta-kids they’ve been unfortunate enough to find themselves lumped next to. “Back in my day, you earned your place on the front row, you didn’t get there buying a small nation’s worth of followers and posting selfies with lip filler filters!!” Snobbish they may seem, but it’s hard to argue that they haven’t earned their stripes and the prominent seats that come with them. And to be honest, fashion shows would be patently dull affairs without the museum-worthy looks they routinely turn out: effortlessly blending #oldceline grails with new season ASAI and Charlotte Knowles, they make most whippersnapper stylists look like trashy Raggedy Ann dolls. They’re of course helped by the fact that their taste isn’t the only thing that’s aged well; their bank balances have too.
The freebie moocher
With stagnant wages and the daily dilemma of whether to put money towards flat white budgets or deposits for houses for which we’ll never be able to pay the mortgages, the odds that our generation’s golden years will be nearly as refined are slim. These thoughts heavy on your mind, your attention is caught by the dishevelled type cramming handfuls of Lärabars into an otherwise empty tote bag. In the interest of full disclosure, this person is me. But, reader, knowing you as I do, there’s a good chance this is you too. Look, I know it’s a petty complaint, but fashion month is a real drain. Sure, there’s the physical exertion of dragging yourself around the complex web of show venues, but actually getting yourself to them is a financial sinkhole in itself. I once gathered four blank Oyster cards from around my house, traded three in for the £5 cashback and put it all onto the remaining one to avoid tipping my dangerously-overdrawn debit card further into the red. It’s comforting to know, then, that no matter how hard times are, there are a couple of periods a year when I can subsist exclusively on dried fruit bars, imported popcorn and weird fruity Evians, and not spend a penny otherwise. I’ll admit that, in the intermittent months, I’m unable to look at sultanas without experiencing sudden vertigo, but with the show calendar confirmed, my body is ready once again.
Street style wannabes
Outside the show venue, you’re faced with the ordeal of steering past the locust swarm of photographers and fans surrounding G-Dragon’s latest K-rap protégé. Through the din of shutter clicks and screams, you hear a meek “Sick fit, mate! ID on the flares??” It’s from someone on the other side of the barrier, waiting in earnest eagerness for the frenzy to pass so they can court the bored paps as they wait for the next show attendees to arrive. The crowd dissipated, they seize the opportunity to fan their feathers, leaning nonchalantly against a lamppost in an attempt to highlight the details of the cargo pants they maxed out four credit cards to buy. The jaded camerapeople offer little more than pained grimaces, awkward nods of acknowledgment, and swift pivots back to face the entrance. You feel a bit sorry for them when you find out that they took a 3 hour train to get here and, gauging by their permanent presence outside the main show venue, don’t seem to have anywhere to stay. Then again, there’s something oddly endearing about their ill-fated peacockery: nothing wins hearts like an underdog!
On the near horizon, you clock a din of klaxons and chants. Fearful of yet again being caught up in a throng of baying K-rap fans, you make a beeline for the nearest underground station, only to realise that you’re headed right towards the advancing mass. The poster-wielding youth you happen upon, however, are of a different species altogether: they’re protesters, the only other group with as refined a knack for shutting down major city intersections without warning. With as much going wrong in the world as there is, their presence is unsurprising -- particularly at fashion week, given the industry’s infamously dirty hands when it comes to almost every environmental and social concern. As calls for radical changes to our approach to clothing consumption, and even for the cancellation of fashion week altogether, increase, expect a far greater visible and vocal presence of campaigners than in previous seasons. If, unlike us, your ability to pay your rent doesn’t hinge on actually attending shows, you might even consider joining in yourself!