Even on the sunniest of days there is a persistent haar that permeates London. People weave through the backed-up traffic as exhaust pipes spurt out their dirty fumes, with heads down and headphones in. No wonder all those Asians go around with masks on, I think, as I make my way through the throngs towards Kings Cross tube station, consciously trying to breathe as little as humanly possible.
It’s Fashion Week, darling- an event renowned on the global stage for its lavishness and glamour. Yet here I am feeling anything but glamorous as I try to keep up with the flow of commuters surging through Kings Cross. The one rule is you do not stop. If you end up at the wrong part of the station you must keep walking, hoping that somehow you manage to negotiate your way and are not trapped in some constant loop, like a more hellish version of Dante’s Inferno.
“So where’s the fashionistas at?’ I ponder as I am squeezed between exasperated businessmen. I am more than conspicuous with my holographic skirt and vibrant red hair amongst the office crowd.
As we arrive at Embankment, the stop for Somerset house, I finally see the fashion posse arriving, incongruous against the dull, bricked walls of the tube station. I have no idea where I am going, so I slyly follow the trail of good-looking people and hope they have a better idea than I do.
Unleash the Choos
We meander past the Thames until we reach our Mecca: Somerset House. I slyly kick off my flats and replace them for the Jimmy Choos waiting patiently to make their appearance from my bag, then click-clack through the gates.
“Can I take a picture of you?” a photographer asks.
Inside-Alice squeals with delight at the thought of being papped at LFW, but Outside-Alice plays it cool and gives a subtle nod of consent. I walk on and into the courtyard, where London’s glamourazzi have assembled in their masses.
In the middle of the courtyard a large tent has been erected. It closely resembles the stages at music festivals apart from the fact the outward walls are reflective so we can admire ourselves gliding past. It is a real September sizzler and the sun bounces off its mirrored walls. A horrible image of ants under a magnifying glass springs to mind as I watch people scurry beneath the reflected rays.
I stand and pretend to have a plan. I have no plan. Literally no clue what is going on. But I must look like I am supposed to be there as a woman comes over to me and tells me how much she loves my shimmering skirt. It turns out she is from Google Glass and she asks to take a picture of me wearing the new specs. I put them on and awkwardly flash a smile as she takes the photo using her own magical glasses. Awesome.
My next stop is to collect my press pass and without question I am duly handed a lanyard with ‘Alice Cruickshank, UK Press’ printed in bold black letters. Could this be the pinnacle of my life? I think so. The only problem is I don’t know what the press pass actually means, so I continue my wanderings, hoping for a clue.
Like, Totally Alexa Chung
It turns out the situation is this: throughout the bright and echoey rooms of Somerset House designers have their showcases, where samples of their spring/summer designs are available to peruse. They are all sat with their fashions, ready to answer any questions. Of course the designers are very friendly- after all, the aim is to find buyers to stock their styles. I feel a bit of a fraud as they welcome me in, but before long I’m strutting round like Alexa Chung, taking an obscene amount of photos on my iPhone. That’s what fashionistas do, right?
Across the courtyard I am transported into girl heaven- the accessories hall. Decadent jewellery hangs from orbs and occupies glittering cases; hats and headpieces fitting of a science-fiction film are jauntily positioned on mannequins’ heads, but the real show stealers are the shoes.
The first to catch my eye are the creations of Julian Hakes. They are more art than fashion, a bizarre shape that engulfs the foot like a twisted vine. Julian permits me to try them on. Would I wear them out? Probably not. But they would most definitely take pride of place on my mantelpiece, or serve as my glamorous little secret while I’m at home hoovering.
I exit through the courtyard, stopping for the odd photo. As soon as I am back on the street the weapons of torture also known as my Jimmy Choos are thrust back in the bag where they belong and I slip into my sandals. I am exhausted. Off to Pret for some lunch, I think, then back on the tube.
Back to my ordinary life.
Well sometimes wearing flat shoes and munching a sandwich just isn’t that bad after all.