Photography: Zoe London (Unless credited otherwise.)
For me this Fashion Week was a bit symbolic as it was actually my tenth season headed into the mania, and while I feel like it’s second nature, it’s still nervy, and my heart races with excitement. I’m at a point now where I begin to recognise designers traits and signature styles, to which I was lucky this season to be able to cherrypick the shows I saw. I only did three days this time around: Friday, Saturday and Monday. Here’s my diary entry from each day, showing a bit of each show, what I thought, and what I learned. Let’s go!
It’s the end of the week but the start of a new fashion calendar, and for me a fairly busy weekend ahead. No where near as busy as previous seasons, however, which for me is perfect. My first stop of the day is at the brand new home of Fashion Week – 180 The Strand. It’s a mere stones throw away from Somerset House, sorta begging the question why was the historic landmark not used, but with the hubbub of the circus massively died down – I think I get it. It’s an old abandoned warehouse meets sorta old office building, full of partially renovated areas out back, and plenty of space. My first show for this season is a quick pit stop backstage at Ashley Williams, a young designer who never disappoints.
Ashley Williams first burst properly onto the Fashion Week scene with her first solo catwalk debut in only 2015, as part of Topshop’s NEWGEN – promising to give way to new and emerging young designers. Just one of the many things I love about London in particular. She has been around in the fashion circle since 2013, however, and in more recent years Ashley has very quickly became a cult favourite. I was invited backstage with MAC Cosmetics, to which the team was headed up by another young makeup talent – Isamaya Ffrench. Using MACs Retro Matte Lip in Kabuki from the Make Up Art Collection (sadly limited edition!) she created a soft grey eye look. Yup, a matte lipstick on the eyes. Genius!
Ashley Williams’ inspiration relies heavily on a natural girl feel, and Isamaya really complimented this. It was never OTT, or too much against some of the brighter catwalk colour elements. Using just a lip balm on the lips, the Bold Lash Mascara and a Black Kohl Eyeliner, it was a ladylike look with a soft young finish. So wearable, and so inspiring. I didn’t have time to stick around for the show unfortunately, but I did take a good peek through the rails of the clothes – and loved what I saw. Yellow is in guys. Here’s a couple of catwalk pictures from the show that I can’t take credit for.
After a quick shoot with Joe Galvin, I dashed over the road to Freemasons Hall, home of Fashion Scout. An initiative again brought up to showcase the best in alternative and perhaps unheard of designers. I was here to see an old favourite of mine – Mark Fast. I’ve been keeping a close eye on Mark since I first saw him back in 2012, here’s a link to an old blog post of a catwalk I saw back then. I loved the use of real models, mixed with floating, elegant pastel dresses of dreams. Benefit Cosmetics invited me along backstage and to watch the show, and there was no way I was missing this one!
The ever amazing, warm and smiley Lisa Potter-Dixon was heading up the show for Benefit, and beneath the hot glow of the selfie ring lights used to help illuminate the sometimes dark Freemasons Hall, she showed me how she was using an eyeliner brush saturated in water, then dipped into the new coral Galifornia box blush to create eyeliner. Again, same as Ashley Williams, proving makeup is as multipurpose as you make it. Lisa called her look ‘a girl frozen under a rainbow’ and with pastel, highlightery tones filling the cheeks and skin, I saw what she meant. She wanted to create a makeup look that purposefully clashed with some of the clothes, to help show women that you really can wear any makeup you feel like, and not to feel obliged to match it to what you’re wearing. The lips were also custom blended for each individual girl.
With my brain ticking at the prospect of this amazing almost-neon blush eyeliner about to hit the catwalk, I headed round the front to take my seat. After a few photos with the photographers (new to me!) the show began. Again, sticking to his signature of flowing, intricately detailed dresses, the show was an absolutely beautiful soiree of the best evening-wear i’ve seen in a long time. I really adore his shows, in my eyes he’s truly one to keep an eye on.
A quick stop for a drink and I was straight onto Le Kilt, once again at 180 The Strand. With Thom Walker for MAC Cosmetics at the helm, within a few minutes of walking in I was beyond besotted with the eyelashes used. I wanted to see Scottish born brand Le Kilt – by Sam McCoach – as it’s a fusion heritage brand of history and personality. With plenty of – yup, you guessed it – Kilts on show, it presents a wearable and enjoyable almost grunge way of wearing it. I adored it before, and I knew i’d adore it again.
With a backstage room overlooking the city of London, the vibe at Le Kilt was unlike any other show i’d seen that day. It was so relaxed, so happy and so stress free, I even got a few minutes to talk to Sam herself. Almost often unknown of. There’s something so lovely about that aspect of home-grown fashion week shows that must be hard to lose as you grow, whilst battling the demon that you truly want to grow, and get bigger. Anyway, the eyelashes were out of this world, complimented with a soft blown out eyebrow that extended beyond the natural shape. It was gorgeous, and totally not something i’d seen before.
With Bumble on hair duty, head stylist Chris Sweeney – the man who has done every single Le Kilt show to date – told me he was inspired by these little Baretta clips he had found in one of those ropey sorta pharmacy shops you find in small towns. He grabbed as many as he could, and this sorta vintage clip in the side, set with Cityswept Finish (my fave) as well as Strong Hold Finish Hairspray, kept the low side parting in place. He explained he wanted a girly – but wrong – look, inspired by Sam’s Mother and Grandmother, but messed up a bit for a new era of woman. It just finished off the clothes absolutely perfectly, and the string quartet playing in the very tiny room, the whole show felt so intimate, so homely, and so achieveable. I truly adore Le Kilt.
The order of the day for today was just the one show – but boy was it a good one. A show i’ve been backstage for before many times, but never front of house. I was just giddy with excitement in the car on the way to the tanks in the Tate Modern – for I was about to witness my first ever House of Holland show in the flesh. A total dream. I find Henry a really interesting dude, from this sorta very smart, very in tune fashion house, to his hilarious and welcoming socialite persona, he’s a great person to watch at fashion week, and the show always turns heads.
I was to enjoy the show with The Body Shop, who very excitingly were taking over on makeup duties, and invited me along as their guest of honour to enjoy the show. Having been at fashion week with The Body Shop from the very start, it was a total privilege and I absolutely couldn’t wait. After a short delay, the show began, with models stomping in flame adorned Texan boots to the sounds of Dolly Parton and in the circular catwalk around the 50s Americana motel signage.
There was pastels, and cow print, and even cowboy hats. It was a Texas dream and I found myself gasping and gazing in such awe at how cool and effortlessly the pieces just fell together. Henry has such a true eye for fashion like that, and it left me so inspired. Of course the fabulous clothes were one thing but The Body Shop really excelled themselves with the makeup. A total departure from anything you may associate with The Body Shop, it was a bright orange and blue eye by Ciara O Shea, their head of global makeup artist. Starting with great skincare, she used mostly the Vitamin E range to make a perfect base in the bright lights. The All-In-One Concealer and Lightening Touch were used to even skin tone, with the Fresh Nude Foundation locking it all in place. Really though it was all about the eyes, and a new product was on show – the Eye Colour Stick, which she used in the shade Bali Sunstone. The Striking Eye Definer Crayon Kohl in Purple, Pink and Green finished off with a little Blue Lash Fibre Mascara on the bottom lashes made a colour combination that just truly popped off against the clothes. I left this show with my face full of heart eye emojis, and with a new found love for orange and blue eyes, as well as Texan style.
I skipped Sunday this year so it was straight on to Monday, with another busy day ahead. Once more I headed in the morning to 180 The Strand with extreme joy in my eyes for what lay ahead – cult faux fur brand Shrimps. Founded by Hannah Weiland with an ethos to refuse to use real fur, she’s made faux fur the talk of the town. Her coats are absolutely to die for, and i’ve lusted over owning one for a couple of years since I first met the brand. I was only about to make my lusting way worse however, with a glimpse at AW17. But first, again I was invited by MAC Cosmetics, and I couldn’t wait to check out the makeup.
Using a brand new In Extra Dimension highlighter-y meets blush Strobe Blush shade called in The Pink, it was applied all round the eyes for a soft baby pink shimmery look. When offset with the gentle faux fur, it was a totally girly dream that I fell for immediately upon seeing. You know I just adore pink eye shades, and now i’ve added a new Baby Spice look of dreams to my must-try list. With all the models stood in a circular fashion, against a white faux fur backdrop, the new coats and clothing items were so covetable the rest of the room couldn’t help but swoon in unison. Shrimps is one of the coolest young British brands out there, and it should be added to your radar if it’s not already.
Time for a spot of lunch before another quick fashion shoot with Joe and then on to an incredibly inspiring friend of mine – Clio Peppiatt. I first met Clio about a year ago at a dinner party where we were sat together, and she’s just the most warming, welcoming and interesting person. I loved hearing about her designs and what inspires her, and i’ve been entranced by her sheer talent at teaming together 90s fashion in a modern way. You may have heard of her before, as she spent some time dressing Charli XCX in custom pieces for her tour a couple of years ago, and you will adore her style if you haven’t seen it before.
The presentation took place in the vaults underneath the RSA just off the strand, and with a pumping mix of old garage tunes and modern club bangers, the models were invited to drink, dance and enjoy the Love Rat Ball. It felt grungey, it felt modern and it felt vintage all in one, I just don’t know how she does it. She really inspires me to mix up textures and layer sheer over soft, and faux fur over well, everything.
After Clio’s rave, I then hopped into a taxi (my fresh new Doc Martens were definitely rubbing) back to 180 The Strand for my last stop of Fashion Week. Boy was it a goodie! That’s right, Ashish. Those of you who are old school around these parts will know i’ve been going to Ashish almost every season, and almost every season it nearly kills me with how good it is. Primarily working with sequins and always pushing a brilliant message, I hoped and prayed Ashish would take AW17 to the political levels I was so desperately waiting to see from fashion week this year.
I was kindly invited along by L’Oreal Paris, who were creating the wild, colourful hair using their brand new launch – Colorista. Here they were using the 1-Day sprays, in the shades Mint, Pastel Blue, and Grey Silver. Sprayed over models hair, almost haphazardly and in whatever way it fell, head stylist Ali Pirzadeh – the most exciting and interesting dude ever – sprayed with awe and wonder at how great this product really is. Colorista 1-Day Spray is a metallic finish, and totally unique to any other hair spray in colour out there. It’s got this most amazing luxe looking finish, and doesn’t leave the hair chalky or too thick with product. Ali actually was so keen to see how it would look over my navy hair that they couldn’t resist but spray some in my hair! It looked beautiful and I totally felt like this hair was so achievable at home.
The catwalk this season was a yellow brick road, firmly placing Ashish’s pure political statement in gold glitter right in front of our eyes. God was I glad to see this show. I got almost tearful as a rendition of Radiohead’s Creep was performed, as real people models of all race and background sashayed down the catwalk in tops and dresses featuring slogans such as ‘You Are Much Lovelier Than You Think’, ‘Love Sees No Colour’, ‘As Often As Possible, Be Gentle and Kind’ as well as ‘Pussy Bites Back’. Makeup was again by Isamaya Ffrench for Maybelline, who explained to me backstage that the idea was an almost haphazard natural looking Mexican wrestler, with the thick face paint almost covering the face – to not draw attention to race or background, but instead show that we are all together as one. The entire show was everything I needed from Ashish, and filled my brain with power, knowledge and inspiration to lend forward to my wardrobe.
So there we go! Bit of a long read but if you know me you know i’m very passionate about writing and storytelling, and to me Fashion Week is merely an extension of the two, formed by fabric and brought to life for mere minutes, but immortalised in style for the full season ahead. I adore seeing catwalk to high street and the trends being born right in front of my eyes, because there are things you see you know kids will immediately replicate and take to the streets.
I know some people go to fashion week to be seen, but I really couldn’t care less about that. From my days at Uni carefully dissecting fashion week catwalks from days gone by to being able to attend myself, for me it is all about scribbling down as much as possible, taking in as much as I can, and trying to put it in words going forward. If only you could see the state of my iPhone notes right now full of scrawly notes that only really make sense to me! I hope you enjoyed coming along with me this season and taking a glimpse into the shows I saw, and i’d really love to know what you thought in the comments.
Oh and by the way, my outfits from each day are to follow!