London Fashion Week – A Student’s Perspective

Written by Christina Bisi, Studying Level 3 Fashion and Textiles

“London Fashion Week isn’t the most organised, but I don’t mind that. It’s such an exciting place – it’s small and cool” – Carine Roitfeld, Fashion Editor

Fashion week, the place to be for inspiration in culture and art. Which is why I was so lucky to be a part of this year’s Fashion London Show.

We all met at the train station for 8:30am. Now I don’t know about you, but this was a Saturday, and my Saturdays don’t normally start until at least 10am. However, the circumstances made me eager to get up and get ready, knowing that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

The train was rather busy for a 9 o’clock commute, even for a Saturday, but this did allow me to pop in my earbuds and have some peace and quiet before the crazy day. Thankfully I found a seat.

We arrived at the Charing Cross Amba Hotel where the Fashion London show was being held. At first, due to the designers not being around, it was mostly a lot of prep work. I had to set up the steamers so that they were ready for when we needed them. This didn’t take long as I had done this for a previous fashion show. However, this did help pass the time until the designers started to arrive and sure enough, soon they started coming into the room with all their garments.

At any show, our first job is always the same; unpack and hang up the garments. I really appreciated one designer who had laminated pictures for each garment with accessories and shoes. This meant that it was really easy for me to match up all the outfits ready for the fittings.

Show 1… In the dressing room there were eight designers, three of whom were showing in the first show. Therefore, we got their fittings done first. I wasn’t a part of this, which meant that I was left to do another fitting.

The lady I was doing the fitting with was the only designer showing in the second show. This was somewhat comforting as I then knew I had a bit longer to get her models fitted. However, this didn’t go to plan as the male models that were due to walk along with the female models were stuck in traffic. This made me very nervous as when it came to show time, it was a case of “if it fits, then you are going to wear it” as we hadn’t done the fittings for these garments.  

I was very excited when I was given a clipboard so that I could write down the running order for the models along with labelling the garment for each model.

While the dressers were sorting out another designer, I then moved onto my next designer and orchestrated this fitting. I am so proud of this, but I couldn’t have done it without the designer that I was with. She was an old student of Sam’s, our teacher, and therefore understood what we were going through. This made it a lot easier to get along with her but also in general doing the fittings. We managed to get the fitting done very quickly as Vaishali, the designer, knew exactly which garments she wanted where in the catwalk.

Then it was time for the first show. All of the people that did the first fitting with the designers, Rebecca, Isabel and Charlotte, went backstage to help with the quick changes. I was left to do the last fitting with a couple of the first year students. I was so nervous. Yes, I had already done two fittings, but this was serious as I was on my own, no tutor to answer any questions that I might have. I was feeling the pressure.

While I was waiting for the designer that I was doing the fittings with, I got a chance to talk to Vaishali in more depth. I learnt about all of the details that went into her garments and I was amazed. There was so much accuracy in the detail and all the embroidery was completed by hand. “Everything is made from scratch”, “Handwork is a dying form, it’s all about the finesse and attention to detail” she said.

Once I got the fittings started, I realised that I still didn’t have any models. At this point they were in hair and makeup and wouldn’t be done for another few minutes. However, as they slowly trickled out, I grabbed them individually and tried to get this fitting going. Having only a few models at a time, it meant that I had to do the fitting in a rather unconventional way.

There were sixteen garments and nine models. At the beginning, I only had three of models so I fitted them as ‘1’, ‘2’ and ‘3’ but then straight away put them in garments ’10’, ’11’ and ’12’. I kept doing this until I had all the models and had filled up my sheet with the running order. Luckily this worked well, and I learnt from this that you have to be able to adapt what you are taught to the situation that you have. Thankfully this also meant that by the time I finished the fittings, the first show had just finished, and I was able to prepare for the next show.

Show 2… This was rather easy as there was only one designer, though I did overestimate my ability to ask people to move out of the way… let me explain. After the show ends, everyone congregates in the room. Models getting contacts, designers getting contacts, and me trying to transport the garment racks through the crowds ready for the next show. I was getting nowhere. Luckily Sam, our teacher, was a massive help and thankfully took control in getting past people.

Because I was the person in charge of the fittings for designer Ivana, I was backstage so that I could help out. The second show was definitely the easiest and the least stressful. All we had to do was dress the models and because there weren’t any quick changes, this could be done before the show started.

There was one thing I hadn’t considered and that was the accessories. There was also an accessory designer who designed bags and ties. Now, I had no way of marking these and I didn’t think too much of it at the time of fittings. I did remember a few outstanding ones, for example the pink dress and the pink bags, but other than that I had to judge it on the designer and the model’s memories.  Luckily it all worked out and we got the models onto the runway looking good.

As relaxing as it is not having to do quick changes, it did mean that we were sat around backstage not making a sound for an hour. So, I took the opportunity to finally have a chance to sit down. Thank goodness I managed to find a seat on the train in the morning as I wouldn’t have lasted this long otherwise.

After the show, we had to fight through the crowds again to transport the racks back to the dressing room and then bring all of the racks for the next show through. It sounds impossible but thankfully we got back to the dressing room, grabbed something to eat and had a quick rest before the next show.

This was also the time that designer Vaishali gave us all pashminas as a thank you for our help. I was honoured just to be there but if you are reading this Vaishali, I just want to say another huge thank you as that was very kind of you.

Show 3… Now Show 3 was on a whole new level, and I was not ready…

Show 3 had seven designers, and yes, if you are thinking that this was going to be chaotic, then you are correct. It was chaotic, it was stressful, and it makes me tired thinking about it again.

We had two different model pools (A & B) showing the designers garments and I had only really dealt with B, but obviously this last show was so huge it included everyone who was working backstage. I did have trouble as I was helping designers that I hadn’t done fittings with, so I didn’t know how to fit the garment to the model in such a short amount of time. But I survived and soon it was time for all the garments I had helped fit, Sam Dada’s collection and Vaishali’s. This was exciting as I felt very helpful as I knew what I was doing. I was most inspired by Charlotte and Isabel as they are former FCOT students. This was really exciting as I got to see the progress they had made during the last few years and hopefully what I can be in the future as well. Due to there being so much to do during the last show, it did mean it went really quickly and before I knew it, we were done and packing away.

I really enjoyed fashion week from all the ups and downs that occurred. I think it was an amazing experience that was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity and now from seeing this I can’t wait to jump headfirst into the industry, into the world of fashion.

So, I agree that London Fashion Week isn’t the most organised, but I don’t mind that. It’s such an exciting place – it’s small and cool.

Thank you to Christina. For those interested in studying Fashion and Textiles with us, click here to find out more.

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