Another Fashion Month has begun but the only glimpse that I see is on my Instagram feed because as you might have noticed, I don't attend fashion weeks. About two years after starting my blog I attended my first London Fashion Week, I remember feeling so excited even though I had no idea what to expect. I still had a full time job so I was restricted to attending at the weekend and I didn't really know any other bloggers so my plan was just to rock up and see what it was all about. My mum had even offered to 'buy me tickets to some of the shows' and I would say that I laughed at this, but I didn't know how it worked either. Street Style (photography) hadn't really boomed into the phenomenon that it is today and so the atmosphere was a lot calmer than the years that followed. As I walked in to Somerset House I remember feeling so small and there were people everywhere, all huddled together in their cliques, dressed to impress...impress who I didn't know. I didn't go to any shows because of course I hadn't been invited, but I did go and 'register' which resulted in me wearing a laminated piece of paper on a lanyard around my neck for the whole day. This 'badge' allowed me to walk around the showrooms where brands were showcasing their latest collections on little foldaway tables, it was essentially a trade show. Nothing really happened, my eyes weren't particularly opened to anything but for some reason the atmosphere pulled me in.
A few seasons rolled by and I would attend every London Fashion Week for as many days as my job would allow. I began learning a bit more about the ins and outs of Fashion Week and it started becoming fun when it involved mingling with other bloggers, I was now stood in a boldly dressed clique. But as the number of bloggers began to rise the British Fashion Council started clamping down on who could register. Accreditation became a 'thing' and this was the first point at which I started feeling like there was a hierarchy. Although you didn't need to be an accredited blogger to be invited to the shows, that was still all down to the PR's of brands/designers, life did seem to appear sweeter by having that laminated badge which had been oh so easy to obtain in previous seasons. But alas accreditation was not on the cards for me and now that I'm older and wiser I can totally understand why from a BFC point of view, I just wasn't important enough.
Accepting that I would never be bestowed with the laminated badge again, a month before each season I would start working my way through the list of PR contacts for all the shows on the LFW schedule. I literally emailed every, single, one. And yes at first I did the old 'copy & paste' trick and just changed the contact name and brand name, and yes, I licked some serious arse by proclaiming my undying love for these huge luxury designers, designers that I'd never heard of and designers that literally only rear their overdressed heads during fashion week. Proclaiming an undying love for the likes of such powerhouses like Burberry when I couldn't even afford to buy a keyring let alone own anything else from their collections does fill me with a certain nostalgia, young naive Emma. I daren't think how many PR's who probably instantly hit the delete button when skimming through my emails but of course, I was never going to get a Burberry invite so why waste their time. I do remember feeling such a buzz when sending off hundreds of these pleading show tick requests, it was a hopeful buzz, a 'what if' buzz. All I wanted in life was a handful of show tickets.
It was my 3rd season of attending LFW when I had my first ticket arrive in the post, anyone would have thought I'd won the lottery. It was of course for a designer that I had never heard of and I didn't have a seat. Bloggers hadn't quite started ruling the world by this point so it was quite normal for the back row to be lined with standing bloggers, DSLR's on full zoom and poised for the shot, because if you didn't have photographic evidence...were you even there? I queued outside the show space in the courtyard of Somerset house, it was a designated entrance for standing only tickets, which was hidden away on the opposite side of the main entrance, aka the back. What I hadn't yet learnt as a young 20 something blogger is that PR's would oversubscribe tickets to shows to ensure that all seats were full, it doesn't look good to have empty seats. So there I am in the freezing cold (it would have been a February fashion week) clutching this square of cardboard like it was my ticket into heaven when we're all told the show is full and to move on so we don't obstruct people exiting the show in a few minutes. Just re-living this memory I want to reach out and hug that young Emma and tell her it will all be ok and that this is not a defining moment in her blogging career, I also want to laugh. There were lots of those kind of moments in the fashion weeks that followed but I began getting more show tickets, some I didn't even need to request, I was no longer standing, I was 4th row, 3rd row, 2nd row and it was all a learning experience.
So many lessons were learnt during the Fashion Weeks that I went to over the years but the most disappointing truth that was uncovered was about people. I used to call Fashion Week a disease, one that for four weeks of Winter and four Weeks of Autumn (possibly more if they attend Couture FW) many people fell victim to. It changed their behaviour, to be quite honest it turned them into arseholes for want of a better word. On more than one occasion I would see girls that I knew, I wouldn't have deemed them as "friends" of course but we were friendly within the blogging world, and yet they would look straight through me. I might have said 'Hey XXX' and I got nothing back, no reaction, cool as a cucumber as if I didn't even exist. At one point I thought I was dead and this was some weird kind of Sixth Sense thing going on but alas, I was indeed alive, I was just being ignored. For what reason I have no idea, but I can guess it's because they had a touch of 'the disease'. A few weeks later and I might have seen these same people at an event and it was like nothing ever happened...because of course, nothing did happen, I wasn't there (to them). I think we would all be incredibly naive to assume that girls being friendly and courteous during such a peacocking showcase like Fashion Month is how it should be, girls will be girls after all. Introduce fashion into the mix and we have something much worse. Add social standing in there and it grows again into an ugly beast. And then add business, because we were then at the stage where these blogs were evolving into fully fledged businesses...and well done Fashion Week, you've created monsters. I myself was infected a few times with Fashion Week-itis, Simon used to say to me 'you turn into a crazy person during Fashion Week' and it was true. I of course never ignored anyone because I wasn't at the top of the hierarchy, on the front row, but I did slip into the vicious black hole of bitch-fests. This is a place I never want to re-visit, and this is why I very much keep myself to myself these days and stay away from the blogging community and the drama that goes with it.
Many of my early blogger friendships were forged in the courtyard of Somerset House where we would strategically hand around, waiting to be snapped by a street style photographer. This was another element of the circus of fashion week that I look back on and giggle to myself. Don't get me wrong Street Style photography is now a big business and there are some very talented guys and girls out there on the streets, dodging and weaving traffic to get that perfect shot, but again there was (and probably still is) a hierarchy within this network of people. One memory in particular sticks in my mind which was only about 3 years ago, I went to Paris Fashion Week for the first time, I didn't have many show tickets, just a couple of small designers but I hand't actually requested any tickets. Admittedly I was going in the hope to be Street Styled and gain exposure, so I went and hung around near the venues of the big shows and then as the show ended I would walk off with a purpose, this would always attract photographers because you look like someone important. There was one quite prestigious Street Style photographer (not naming any names) who I always hoped would snap me and I could spot him in a crowd of others so I would always look for him and walk in his direction. I hadn't spotted him at one particular venue so once I walked around the corner I snapped back into 'normal' mode and decided to get a Starbucks. As I trudged off to Starbucks he was there, walking right towards me, he raised his camera but as he got closer he lowered it and gave me a look that said 'ah maybe not, you're nobody, you're not worth the photo'. That look, and that feeling has stayed with me since then and I use it now to remind myself of what I don't want. That was the last Fashion Week that I attended.
I put it down to age and experience. When I turned thirty, something inside my head clicked and it's like all wisdom that was in my twenty-something head suddenly came out of hiding and many things just became so clear. I didn't want any of this any more, I just wanted to be myself and if anyone didn't like that then they could just 'do one'. I was no longer interested in the showtime of Fashion Week, and when I broke it down I never used to get anything from it, it was a waste of time and money. I now choose to spend my time creating actual content that you guys want to see, real outfits that I actually wear whilst out and about, not costumes which have been put together to attract the Street Style brigade. Ironically I've reached a point, or more accurately my following has reached a number which is now accepted by the Fashion Week gods that be and I get sent the invites I aways wanted and get offered some amazing opportunities surrounding Fashion Month, but it's just not for me any more.
I understand the premise of this post has been quite negative, but believe it or not I actually enjoyed reminiscing about the highs and lows. For the record I'm not saying that everyone who attends Fashion Weeks are absolute arseholes, there are nice people in Fashion too. Nor am I saying that all other bloggers are dicks, again, I do know some genuine, kind hearted folk. I think it just takes a certain kind of person to 'do' Fashion Weeks and I'm just not cut out for it. This isn't a closed book, there's nothing to say my mind won't change in the future as a lot of things may have changed in my absence, so I may well return to Fashion weeks but for now I'm just happy (being the operative word here) doing what I'm doing.